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I Would Like to Speak to the Manager

Nightlight

Overture: “Happy Go Lively” by Laurie Johnson. On the left half of the stage is a pristine white office room. On the right half, we see the burned down remains of a living room, with only a small side table still standing. On the table sits an old rotary phone. The OPERATOR sits in the office, and the CUSTOMER sits on a burnt stool in the living room.

CUSTOMER angrily dials the phone. There is a pause, before the OPERATOR’S phone rings. The OPERATOR picks up the phone with a fake smile.

OPERATOR

Hello. This is customer service. How may I help you today?

CUSTOMER

Hello. Yes, I would like to file a complaint. The toaster I ordered exploded and burned down my house.

OPERATOR

Oh no! That’s terrible. First, you will need to give me the 16-digit personal identification code, your four-digit product verification code on the certificate of authenticity that you received with your product, and the official purchase edition number written on your product.

CUSTOMER

What? What are those!?

OPERATOR

You will need to take all of those things and fax them to the number listed on our website.

CUSTOMER

I don’t have a fax machine. I don’t think anyone does. Also, my house burned down.

OPERATOR

Yes. We will wait for your fax. Thank you.

CUSTOMER

Well, can I file a complaint through your website?

OPERATOR

Yes, we have a website. Please go there.

CUSTOMER

Can I please just file a complaint with you?

OPERATOR

Do you have your 16-digit personal identification code?

CUSTOMER

I already told you I don’t!

OPERATOR

Then no.

CUSTOMER:

AAAAAAAGHHHH!

OPERATOR

Transferring to AAAAAAAGHHHH department. Please hold.

“Happy H. Christmas” by Maniacs of Noise begins to play.

OPERATOR

(As the music stops)

Welcome to the AAAAAAAGHHHH department. Unfortunately, there has been a mistake. Please select a new department. For billing, press 1. For sales, press 2. For tech support, press 3. For a hilarious and amusing story, press 4.

A very long time passes.

For the complete soundtrack of both the movie and the Broadway production of Sweeney Todd, press 13,216. For the nearest free trade door knocker manufacturer, press 13,217. For complaints department, press 13,218.

CUSTOMER sighs very loudly and violently spins the dial on the rotary phone.

OPERATOR

Okay, please hold. Thank you.

“Happy H. Christmas” by Maniacs of Noise begins to play once more.

OPERATOR

Hello! This is the complaints department. What can I do for you today, valued customer?

CUSTOMER

I have a complaint regarding terrible customer service. Also, are you the same person?

Because this sounds like the same person.

OPERATOR

(Suddenly speaking in a German accent)

No. I am not the same person. Why would you think that?

CUSTOMER

Are you sure? Because you sound like the same person I was just talking to, only

with a German accent. And I still have a complaint.

OPERATOR

(Still speaking with a German accent)

Shall I transfer you to my superior?

CUSTOMER

Okay. Fine. Whatever.

A different terrible, obnoxious song begins to play.

OPERATOR

(Russian accent)

Hello, this is management! Management is testing out a new robotic help cyber-bot. It is still in the learning phase. Please be patient.

CUSTOMER

I don’t think I’ve got much patience left. And you are definitely still the same person.

OPERATOR

(French accent)

Non. What is it with you and your false accusations? I’m a different person!

CUSTOMER

Well for starters, you keep changing your accent.

OPERATOR

(Southern accent)

I do not.

CUSTOMER

Can I just talk to the robot? Please?

OPERATOR

Fine. Whatever.

There is a long pause. CUSTOMER sighs heavily. OPERATOR exits stage left and is replaced with an advanced-looking ROBOT, played by someone wearing a plain, white mask that features a blank expression.

ROBOT

Hello! This is the management support robot! What can I help you with?

CUSTOMER

Customer service.

ROBOT

Could you repeat that, please?

CUSTOMER

Tech support.

ROBOT

I think you said, “Deck fork.” If this is correct, press any diagonal sequence of numbers.

If this is incorrect, press the function key.

CUSTOMER

What?! What’s a function key?! I don’t have a function key!

ROBOT

I think you said, “I don’t have a function key.” If this is correct, press the function key.

CUSTOMER

This is insane! Why don’t you just have normal customer service?!

ROBOT

Uh-oh! What can we do to make your experience better?

CUSTOMER

I don’t know!

ROBOT

I am still in the learning phase. Please be patient.

CUSTOMER

They should have waited until you were done with the learning phase to let you take calls!

(Beat)

This ought to be against the law!

ROBOT

I think you said, “I shot my grandma.” Shall I call 911?

CUSTOMER

No! No! Don’t call 911! This is a disaster!

ROBOT

What can we do to make your experience better?

CUSTOMER

I haven’t got a clue.

ROBOT

I think you said, “My baby’s in the barbecue.” If this is correct—

CUSTOMER

No! No! Just shut up! I just want to talk to the complaints department!

ROBOT

Okay, redirecting to the complaints department.

CUSTOMER

(Relieved)

Yes! Finally!

ROBOT

Uh-oh. There’s been a glitch. Restarting. Shutting down.

ROBOT exits and is replaced by OPERATOR.

OPERATOR

Hello. This is customer service. How may I help you today?

CUSTOMER slams the phone down and storms off stage right. OPERATOR sets down its phone, turns to face the audience, and shrugs.

CURTAIN CALL. Music: “Window Gazing” by Ivor Slaney.

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