The phone bot, the cashier, the mechanic and the dog

The Leaside Observer

“Is it me? It must be me.” These are my thoughts after a series of conversations, all within a few days of one another. Defeated and weary, I present them to you:

The Phone Bot

Like many of my fellow Leasiders, I have been hit with the Vacant Home Tax. If that weren’t punishment enough, I also received a penalty of $21.24 – a number so random, it appears to have been pulled from a bingo ball hopper. Three dial attempts and several mind-numbing prompts later, my “conversation” begins:

5 minutes, 14 seconds: “We are currently experiencing greater than normal call volumes. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in priority sequence.”

7 minutes, 17 seconds: “Your call is important to us and we appreciate your patience. Please select a music genre to listen to while you wait. For Rock, press 1. For Country, press 2. For Hip-Hop, press 3. For Electronic and Ambient, press 4.”

18 minutes, 5 seconds: “Your call is important to us. We apologize for the delay and appreciate your patience.”

31 minutes, 2 seconds: My coffee has caught up to me, but I figure I have enough time to sneak a pee break.

Click. “City of Toronto revenue services, how can I help you? Hello?…Hello?” Click.

The Cashier

The lines at Longo’s, this day, force me to use the dreaded self-checkout. I grudgingly start scanning. First up, a jar of kefir. A $2 deposit appears under the price. I call the floating “cashier” over.

“What’s this deposit for?” I ask.

“Oh, it’s for the glass jar.”

“So, I just bring back the jar?”

“Actually, no, we stopped taking them back,” he explains.

“So, why charge a deposit?”

“Because it’s for the glass jar.”

“But a deposit implies I will get money back if I bring back the jar.”

“Yeah,” he shrugs.

“What about my jar of pickles; is there a deposit on that?”

“No. You’re good with the pickles.”

The Mechanic

Like every spring, I drop my car at M&S Auto to have my snow tires swapped out. I ask them to check my rotors because I can feel a vibration when I brake. Rick informs me that they’re under warranty and the dealership should replace them. The dealership shall remain nameless to protect the guilty.

“We did a brake check and your rotors are indeed warped. Normally, we’d charge you because it’s caused by the driver.”

“How so?” I ask.

“Because the rotors heat up from braking and when you drive through water, they can warp.”

“So, normal driving.”

“Well, you have to avoid puddles,” he says.

“Like the one currently at Laird and Millwood, under the railway bridge?” I ask.


“Or the one at the entrance to your dealership?”


The Dog

My watch is reminding me it’s time to “stand up” from my computer. A perfect excuse for me to make another coffee. I catch Jerry sitting at the front door, looking back at me.

“What are you looking at?” I ask.

A tilt of his head indicates the obvious, “You, ya dummy.”

“You want a walk?”

One bark and a spin. Finally, an intelligent conversation.

This article was guest contributed by David Crichton.