By Hannah Reich Berman

As of this writing, I am awaiting a callback from the makers of my rental car. In frustration, I am also chewing on what is left of my fingernails. The latter is due to telephone troubles. To be more precise, I should refer to it as people problems. Whatever it is, I am about to explode.

Last week I received a recall notice on my auto. Apparently, water from the air-conditioning housing unit could leak onto the airbag control and cause a short circuit. In some instances the airbags could become disabled or might inadvertently deploy. Blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada . . . the letter continues on and gives the possible consequences in both events. The operative words here, in order of their appearance, are “could,” “some,” “might,” and “possible.” In plain English, nobody is too sure of anything.

Nevertheless, as I am cautious, and as I often have grandchildren in my car, I am attempting to do the “responsible” thing. The problem is that nobody is making it easy for me. It seems that dealerships for my auto open and close more often than the sun comes out to shine. There was one on a street located less than ten minutes from my house. It is gone! The next I heard, another one had opened just a few miles from where I live, about a 15-minute drive. This was also acceptable, but, sure enough, now that I need them, I called the listed phone number and learned that they too had closed their doors.

For a few days, it appeared that if I wanted to attend to this possible problem, I would have to do a good deal of traveling. That wouldn’t be an issue but for the fact that it might take up to three hours to do the repair. And the three-hour estimate was only if they were not busy! Unfortunately, I have never heard of an auto repair dealership that was not busy. My first thought was that this might be one of those rare times when I would actually regret not having an iPad or a smartphone.

But luck was with me. Sometimes it pays to kvetch. I complained to a friend about the situation and she gave me a gift–the gift was the information that a new dealership opened just last month within ten minutes of my house. Hooray! Happily, I called information, got the number, and made the call. And that’s when it all fell apart for me! Twice I was put on hold. Two more calls to the same number and I was supposedly transferred to the correct department but never reached a soul. My third indignity was when I was disconnected from the call altogether.

I’m not sure how many teeth I may have cracked as I gritted my choppers, but I’m fairly certain I did some damage. Finally I called back and I shrieked! The poor soul who had the misfortune to answer my final call may never hear well again. She didn’t get a chance to say much because I was determined to let her know that this situation was outrageous and that if I came into the dealership (which I was actually considering) I would raise a ruckus like no one had ever seen! She may have believed me, because she took my name and phone numbers and promised that someone would get back to me.

But I am less than hopeful; that may just have been a ploy to get me off the phone. I plan to give it two days–that seems reasonable to me–and then I will do as I threatened. I will descend on them and refuse to leave until they assign an appointment time for me.

All of the above is in addition to the fact that I, who often need tech support for help with my computer issues, always seem to have my calls routed overseas. There’s no point in actually making a list, but if I had to hazard a guess I would say that currently I have new friends in India, Hungary, and Romania. I’ve never been xenophobic, but with help from my Internet service provider I am getting there! Whom would it hurt if someone in Kansas came on the line when I called for help? But it has never happened.

The closest I’ve ever come to feeling that I was speaking to a person close to home (what I consider home) was when a female technician came on the line and had an accent that was familiar to me. Tech-support people are generally friendly souls, and this gal was no different. While trying to help me solve my problems, she chatted with me and, while exchanging personal information, I learned that she was talking to me from Israel! That was a pleasant experience, but those are few and far between.

Lately, telephones, or rather the people who answer them, are giving me a massive headache. Even the recorded messages are annoying. And that is with having made some adjustments. I learned not to let it bother me when a recorded message informs me that if I want to speak in Spanish I should “press two” (or “pulse el número dos”). What I do mind, however, is a recorded message that lets me know that if I want to speak English, I should “press three.” What??

The last time I checked, I was living in New York, and I never heard that New York ceded from these United States. I was educated in this country, and my classmates and I were taught that English is the spoken language in America. So why should anyone have to press a button to hear English? Let someone who does not speak our language press a button. Someone seems to have forgotten that English is our language. That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.

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