By Ellen Zionts • For the Courier-Post • June 8, 2010

I spent years teaching my children the right way to speak to people.

Now they have to teach me the right way to speak to machines.

I wonder if texting were invented before the telephone what would have happened? We'd all be phoning each other saying how marvelous it is to hear the human voice. The impersonal text is much easier to misconstrue.

My son's pet peeve is credit card companies. He said, "They make you put in all of this information, like your card number, birth date and then when you finally get a live person, they ask you the same stuff all over again and waste your time."

I said this to a clerk who was torturing me by asking me six ways to verify my identity, when I called to pay my bill:

"Listen, babe! If anyone wants to pay my bill you don't have to concern yourself about their identity. You have my permission to let anyone pay my balance who is so inclined."

Then there is the company I love to hate, my cell phone provider. I don't understand why there is this computer screen you have to put your life story into to get a human to call your name. Five clerks and one floor person should be able to talk to a customer without the computer screen as a buffer.

Yesterday I walked into an empty store early to turn in my broken phone. I was pointed toward the screen machine. I said, "I refuse. I refuse to use that thing when I can just talk to you like a person."

The manager came running from behind the counter to help me. It felt real good. It felt like Woodstock.

I think in light of the Goldman Sachs fiasco and Wall Street bailout, we need to start raging again.

After viewing the congressional hearings which clearly showed how all of us who bought stock that was rig rated or houses that were inflated or pension funds that were deflated have a case. If I were more adept at social networking, my rage against the machine movement might just take off.

I don't have Credence Clearwater Revival or Country Joe to tell my side of the story now. All of the old bands with social conscience are retired, dead or releasing their old song catalogs for TV commercials. I only have the bygone memories of when music changed the world before we had to download Lady GaGa to our iPods.

I even need my adult children to help me with that so I do not erase any of the cyber music I already bought.

I have the aptitude and the words, but I can't cast a net over the Net.

"The answer (really) is blowing in the wind."

My voice is a cry in the cyber-wilderness. But will anyone hear it?

As for getting a human on the phone, my son solved that for me, too. Try gethuman.com