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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

So I won't be doing any play-by-play announcements

I always thought I had a decent speaking voice.

I mean, I'm no Ronald Coleman or Alexander Scourby, or on a lesser scale Morgan Freeman. So, in order, I won't be narrating Shakespeare, the Bible, or Driving Miss Daisy II.

But when I speak I think people can understand what I'm saying. I pronounce. I enunciate. I don't slur my words...before 1 a.m. I make speeches to groups and no one complains.

Don't get me wrong. I've heard myself on the radio and it makes me cringe. If I'm having the slightest allergic fit I can be a little nasally. Otherwise, I'm OK, I think.

Imagine my chagrin, when at the grocery last evening I stopped by the deli and asked for 1/3 of a pound of my favorite turkey and the butcher dude sliced me one and a third pounds. I assumed he either didn't hear me clearly or I hadn't spoken clearly.

So I asked him.

"Oh, I really didn't hear the amount you said," he answered. And I started to feel a little better, till he continued. "But I didn't have to. This is voice activated. It listens so we get orders right."

With that he gestured above his head, and damned if there wasn't a little digital reader board, sort of like they have by the drive-thru cash register at fast food restaurants. Sure enough, it read one and a third pounds.

Has anyone else ever heard of that? Voice-activated order thingies at the grocery store deli?

Anyway, apparently the machine did hear me say the larger amount.

I must sign off now and go do my "how now brown cow" exercises.

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  • thats creepy. next thing you know... computer generated phone sex operators.

    oh what a world.. what a world.

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 3:40 PM  

  • "Anyway, apparently the machine did hear me say the larger amount."

    Of course. The machine must be made by the same people who make the deli scales that make the deli workers ask: "It's a little over [what you asked for]. Is that ok?" My husband swears they're trained to ALWAYS make it "a little over".

    Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite celebs ever. It started when I was about 4 I think, watching him on Sesame Street.

    By Anonymous Freddie, at 3:56 PM  

  • He lied to you and you believed it. Voice activated? That's funny. I gotta meat that guy.

    By Blogger mist1, at 4:37 PM  

  • i never heard of that? voice activated to get your deli meats?
    i don't like the way i sound on an answering machine!

    james~ thats the spirit!!! my husband brought home the tree... that was his contribution. (hee hee) what is it with you guys?charlie brown trees are the best! happy holidays to you and your wife :)

    By Blogger acaligurl, at 4:54 PM  

  • Maybe there wasn't enough Bryant Gumbel in your voice for the computer to recognize it properly.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 5:09 PM  

  • lmmfao!!! hahaha bryant gumble. hahahahahaa



    By Blogger Yasamin, at 5:19 PM  

  • That's pretty funny. Now you will be able to make one of those awesome 12 foot long sandwiches for your next party. And I'm definatly coming to it. :)

    By Blogger Erica Putis, at 5:33 PM  

  • Wow. Next thing you know you'll be asking a voice response system a question when you call your insurance company (instead of speaking to a live person,) putting your hand on a scanning device at your workplace (instead of punching a clock,) and breathing into a device to start your car if you're prone to drinking (instead of having your spouse smack you silly.) Modern technology. Learn it. Live it. Embrace it.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 5:41 PM  

  • James, what frustrates me is that, like my father who has a sub-bass voice, I have an abnormally deep voice but rarely use it. What comes out is a little squeek, begging one's pardon for my existence. I rarely use The Voice and people ask:

    "Excuse me, Sir? What was that about your bagina?"

    And that's from the machine.

    By Blogger Matt, at 6:32 PM  

  • Yas, that is creepy. Between that and 2014, who knows what's next.

    Freddie, I think the machine was shady, just like those scales. Very very fishy. And Morgan Freeman was on Sesame Street? I had no idea. I thought he just narrated grown-up film.s

    Mist1, why do I suspect you really did mean "meat" the deli the guy. Seriously, he wasn't BSing me. I saw it. They have a voice activated/voice recognition thingie that records deli orders. Apparently it protects deli workers from being accused of over-filling an order.

    Acaligurl, I'm coming around. By the time we have kids I'll probably end up wearing a Santa suit.

    BD, ha ha ha ha hater! Kidding. But that's cold. I have my Gumbel. I just reserve it for black tie events.

    Erica my next party will indeed feature a 12 foot turkey sandwich. And if you happen to be in Miami, you're invited. Now, I have to go back to the deli and ask for a half pound of ham. That should get me enough to make a 30 foot ham sammich.

    Yas, again, don't encourage BD. He'll give me crap all night.

    Sarc, that sounds too Star Trek for me (and I love Star Trek). I swear I'm gonna start a movement that says we should revert back to low tech days.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 6:36 PM  

  • This weekend I was (literally) yelled at by a fast food manager because I ordered a #9 and she said I ordered a #3 (something I didn't realize until she put the wrong food on my tray). She swore I was wrong and just stood there staring at me. When I explained that I don't eat red meat, and I didn't want the #9, she sighed, rolled her eyes, and then turned around and barked my order. When she gave it to me a few minutes later, I asked for my change -- since what I paid for was considerably more than what I wanted. That opened another can of worms altogether.

    But I'm fairly cerain there's no voice-activated ordering machine there. That's kind of creepy, though in this case I would've appreciated having something to back me up.

    (And for the record, I wouldn't worry about the machine not getting your order right. I know voice activated phones are notorious for getting things wrong, for example).

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 9:31 PM  

  • A 1/3 pound of turkey? For some reason that seems very odd to me. Much more so than the voice activated order thingie. Why not just get a 1/2 pound?

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 12:37 AM  

  • Grizz, the amount of turkey is more weird to you than the fact they have a voice recognition thingie in the deli?


    If I get too much turkey I won't eat it all before it spoils.

    If I get too little...

    Since I go to the grocery every three days or so, I've figured out 1/3 of a pound gives me 2 - 3 decent sammiches. That way I use it all, there's no excess, and nothing goes to waste.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:46 AM  

  • hmmmm VERY interesting. I have never heard of such a thing either but I WILL be looking for them now that I know. Oddly enough the vision I am having cause it is late(me being wierd has nothing to do with it) is as follows.....

    I walk up to the counter of the deli just as some kid playing with a cart runs over my foot. In suprised pain I utter "awwww farg me!" then spend the next 45 minutes running around the store trying to escape the machine which is trying to comply with my order.

    weird? guilty your honor guilty.


    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 12:54 AM  

  • The rain in spain....

    that is weird about a voice recognizer....I hate calling companies that have voice recognition because, inevitably, it screws something up because of background noise. I hate when a machine asks me to repeat myself.."I'm sorry, I didn't understand. Can you repeat that?" That's usually about the time I start cussing.

    By Blogger Claudia, at 1:07 AM  

  • For what it's worth, here's my experience with automated voice response "phone hell."

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 6:24 AM  

  • I've never hear of that. I miss the days when Burger King used to use microphones to call an order back to the cooks.

    I also have major issues with the self check out lines at grocery stores, but I won't get into that right now.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 7:25 AM  

  • I'm with Freddie. Morgan was da bomb on Sesame Street.

    I'm a little disturbed by the dehumanizing at the deli counter. What kinda grocery store was this?

    By Blogger Christina_the_wench, at 8:08 AM  

  • James, yes the turkey tripped me up a bit. I found it difficult to concetrate on the weirdness of a voice activated deli because all I kept thinking was, "A 1/3 poound of turkey?"

    That is very financially prudent of you. In contrast, I usually buy 1/2 pound of deli meat, eat a couple of sandwhiches and then a week later, I end up sticking my head in the refrigerator going, "What's that smell?"

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 9:06 AM  

  • testing... testing 123.. sibilance...

    just testing if i can see comments on beta. why is it i can see yours but i can't see mine? god hates me.

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 9:30 AM  

  • Diction and command of the English language are so important to me. I am instantly turned off by someone who doesn't speak or sound properly.

    By Blogger Fairmaiden327, at 9:41 AM  

  • You prompted me to check it out James. Morgan Freeman wasn't on Sesame Street, but The Electric Company. They were always on, one right after the other, on PBS when I was a tot:;cast

    By Anonymous Freddie, at 10:11 AM  

  • You just reminded me that I need to post about my friend who played a prank on her coworkers concerning the "VoiceMaster 4.0," a software update that allows you to commmunicate orally with your PC.


    By Blogger Matt, at 10:46 AM  

  • See, Fairmaiden, the speech thing is one of my paranoias. So the machine definitely tripped me up a little.

    Grizz, I'm glad you understand my frugality (AKA cheapness) now.

    ThirdWorst, I hope they gave you your change. I feel for anyone who has to work fastfood. But I hate it when they cop attitude like you put them there.

    Briliant, that could make for a sci-fi/horror script, sort of a follow-up to Ghost in the Machine?

    Sarc, read your link. That was both hilarious and frustrating.

    Claudia, I have problems w/my cell phone's voice activation sometimes. But that usually works well for me 'cause if I'm not having a bad allergy day my voice is pretty consistent.

    Capt., you have me curious about your self-checkout story.

    Christina, I don't want to name the store, in case they don't have a sense of humor. Rhymes with Snublicks.

    Freddie, you have me really curious now. I have to go to that link and see younger Morgan on the Electric Company.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:40 AM  

  • It WAS Electric Company. Thanks, Freddie. Either way, he is still rocks.

    By Blogger Christina_the_wench, at 11:56 AM  

  • What the hell's the plot of Driving Miss Daisy 2? ;)


    By Blogger Steven Novak, at 12:07 PM  

  • I have Matt's problem. I have been told repeatedly -- and far it from me to judge myself on this one -- that I have a deep baritone late-night jazz DJ phone sex operator voice. It routinely fails to register on answering machines, like a vampire's reflection in a mirror. It can be pretty frustrating when trying to navigate some ill-begotten voice recognition system, I assure you.

    I shudder to think what I would get if I visited your Publix deli counter, James.

    By Blogger mkh, at 6:25 PM  

  • Steven, I'm guessing that plot would be written by the same folks who did Shaving Private Ryan.

    And MKH, you and Matt may have solved what went wrong in the deli. I too suffer from the baritone ailment.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 7:46 PM  

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