An automated shoulder to cry on


"Hello. You've reached the Crisis Hot Line."

"Oh, thank God! Look, something's really bothering me and I think I might . . . "

"To discuss general feelings of despondency, please press 1."


"For alcohol and drug problems, press 2."

"God! You mean this is a recording?"

"For marital problems, press 3."

"It is a recording! I don't believe this."

"For financial difficulties, press 4."

"This is crazy! I've never heard . . . "

"If you've recently been implicated in a sex scandal, press 5."

"Please, isn't there someone I could talk to about . . . "

"To deliver a rambling, semi-coherent harangue against 'the system,' press 6."

"Listen, pal, I'd like to deliver a smack upside your big, ugly . . . "

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"OK, there, 3! Marital problems."

"If your husband is a cheating low-life, press 1. If your wife is an amoral little tramp, press 2. If your husband goes drinking with his buddies and plays golf all the time and leaves you stuck with the kids, press 3. If all your wife does is nag, nag, nag about how there's never enough money and how the two of you never do anything together, press 4."

"Actually, my problem is . . . "

"If your mother-in-law is driving you crazy, picking, picking, picking at every little thing you do, press 5."

"No, it's not her, it's . . . "

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"OK, I pressed 4! But it's not really that she nags me, it's . . . "

"If the two of you have considered marriage counseling, press 1. If you've thought about calling a lawyer, press 2. If this is nothing more than a lot of empty 'beer talk' emanating from poker night with the boys, press 3. If you'd like to confront your wife with your complaints, but know you're too much of a weenie, press 4."

"Hey! Who you calling a . . . "

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"There! I pressed 5, 5!"

"If you wish to speak to someone with a calm, soothing voice, press 1. If you wish to speak to someone with a strong, no-nonsense demeanor, press 2. If you wish to speak to someone who is nonjudgmental but may be wishy-washy and vacillating when it comes to advice, press 3."

"No, that's not who I . . . "

"If you wish for us to call your mother, press 4."

"My mother! Ha! She wouldn't . . . "

"If you wish to speak to any available counselor, press 5."

"Yes! There, I hit 5! Lemme speak to someone!"

"We're sorry! All our counselors are busy at the moment! Please hold for the next available counselor. While you're waiting, don't forget this weekend's big 50 percent off sale at R&T; Jewelers, located on the second level of the Cranston Mall. All 14-carat gold jewelry, diamond earrings and men's rings up to 60 percent off! Open Friday 10 to 9, Saturday 10 to 6 and Sunday noon to 5. Major credit cards accepted."

"I have the worst headache . . . "

"Still holding for the next available counselor! While you're waiting, please, sit back, relax, and listen to the song stylings of Mr. Mel Torme!"

"I . . . have to lie down now."


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