The answering machine

Lewis stood on the doorstep wondering why Mr Jones was taking so long to answer. Eventually, the door opened.

"Oh hello Lewis. I am sorry to keep you waiting. Do come in." Mr Jones was already walking down the hallway into his sitting room. Lewis followed, closing the door behind him. "I've been on the telephone for ages already this morning. It's all very frustrating."

Lewis thought he had better not mention the reason for his visit. He could tell by the look on Mr Jones' face that something was troubling him. "What's the matter?" he asked.

"I've been trying to get through to the hospital to change my appointment to see the specialist about my hip replacement. They sent me this letter but every time I try to ring, a machine tells me that I have several options and should choose one. I can't seem to get it right. I just want to talk to someone to change my appointment. I can't wait until next February!" He said waving the letter in the air.

"Perhaps I can help," said Lewis. "May I see it?"

"Certainly. I'm not sure what you can do though." Mr Jones collapsed into his armchair. After reading the letter and glancing up at a sad-looking Mr Jones, Lewis thought he had better do something.

"Let me try and speak to someone. May I use your telephone?"

"Go ahead," said Mr Jones.

Lewis dialled the number and waited to hear the options given by the automated answering service. He pressed a number on the handset and waited once again.

"It says on here that you can contact them via e-mail," he commented, pointing to the hospital letter.

"I've heard them mention that on the radio," said Mr Jones, "but to be honest I don't really know what they are talking about. All these new words, and new ways to communicate! It's all too complicated and confusing. Why can't you just ring up and speak to someone like we used to do? I really donít know what to make of it."

But Lewis was no longer listening. He was speaking to the doctor's secretary and when Mr Jones stopped talking and listened, he could tell from Lewis' tone that he was having some success.

"Thank you for your help," said Lewis politely. "I'll tell Mr Jones now."

"The lady has brought it forward to next month because they have a cancellation," said Lewis replacing the receiver. "I'll just write it on your card."

"That is good news. Thank you for your help. You came at just the right time." Mr Jones was smiling once again.