Has ‘menu’ become a four-letter word?

Oct 30, 2012 | 3 comments

I remember when the word “menu” brought to mind all the pleasant (and pretty much out-of-the-ordinary) experiences of going out for a meal.  It used to be that a restaurant meal was a BIG DEAL.  Certainly when I was a child, in the forties and fifties, going “out” for dinner was unusual, even for the adults.

For one thing, we didn’t have a lot of ‘disposable’ income.  For another, there just weren’t that many restaurants around.  But when we did go out, pouring over the menu and considering the possibilities was one of the pleasurable parts of the entire adventure.

To some extent that’s still true, but nowadays the experience has become more complex.  There are so many choices and descriptions that I’m often filled with uncertainties and angst when I should be salivating with anticipation.

But it is a menu of a different sort which really makes my teeth grit and my stomach clench these days.  It’s the “Please listen to the following menu” when I dial almost anything other than a residence.  Pharmacy, bank, school – it doesn’t seem to matter who I am calling, there is a menu to contend with.

Yesterday I called 411 to get a phone number.  Not only was there a menu, but before the requested phone number was released, there was a commercial!  It was urging me to get a credit card.  Good lord!  I guess I should be thankful that it wasn’t a political announcement!

I can only surmise that “they” have had luck with this technique which is, in itself, a sad commentary on what we have become.  I couldn’t help but wonder if I had needed to call 911 instead of 411, my emergency would have also been put on hold for a commercial.  After all…  talk about a captive audience…


  1. Kathleen Shaw

    Phone menus are annoying, to be sure, but what I really, really, really hate now are the “robocalls.” I’m on the “do not call” list and still get ’em. And did you know that the political ad robocalls we receive during the election season are exempt from the “do not call” list??? My friends have now learned that, during election season, the phone will probably go to voicemail because I’ll be dag-nabbed if I’ll run to the phone to intercept a…robocall.

  2. Linda J

    The 4-1-1 service and those commericals are twp of the worst things about TracFone, in my opinion.

  3. Stephanie Frieze

    How timely, Sydney. Today I had to call Puget Sound Energy. I had received a robo call which gave me a menu and when I selected on I was told that it was a non working number. So I looked up the number and called them. I really wanted to talk to a human. Five menus later I was told that they wouldn’t talk to me about our account because Dave’s name is on the account, but not mine. I guess HIPA laws apply to the gas bill. I told this woman that I was mad about all the menus, but if she was going to insist on talking to my husband she was going to get an earful because he was going to plenty upset after five menus. I called him and his reaction was “How will they know I am Dave?” I have no clue, but he waded through all the menus and seemingly has solved our gas problem. It’s getting so I don’t like telephones of any sort.


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