The closest thing we have to Bartleby the Scrivener in the year 2015 is Ronald Dillon, a NYC Health Department employee who works for the agency’s IT help desk and literally won’t stop talking like a robot.
DNAinfo has been covering his low-key refusal to do his job like a normal person since 2014, when Dillon was suspended for 20 days without pay after insisting that his robot voice, which he’d used “on at least five occasions,” was actually a normal voice. He’s not a “people person,” Dillon said. That’s right—he’s a robot. See?
His vibe threw off the callers, though:
One confused customer who spoke to Dillon later called back and told another Health Department worker that she thought “there was a new automated answering system and had hung up when she heard ‘the robot’ answer the phone because she needed to speak to a human about her issues,” the decision says.
Now, Dillon has been suspended for another 30 days, although the Health Department has yet to approve the disciplinary recommendation made by one Judge Addison, who sounds a bit anti-robot to me.
Judge Addison said in her decision that Dillon “stated in a slow, stilted and monotonous voice, ‘You have reached the Help Desk. This is Mr. Dillon. How may I help you?’” After the introduction, Dillon returned to a regular tone and speed in conversation, the judge said.
The Health Department also presented an email from a senior director at the agency who complained to Dillon’s supervisor that Dillon also spoke in a robotic voice to him during a customer-service call on March 18, 2014.
Addison determined that Dillon talked like a robot in both instances despite “being instructed by his supervisor, both verbally and in writing, that to do so was unacceptable and unprofessional.”
Honestly, Ronald Dillon—you do you.
The key to this situation seems to be, as DNAinfo reports, the fact that Dillon has a math degree and an MBA, and had never worked in customer service before being ordered onto his help desk post three years ago.
Whatever his motivations, I stand with Ronald.
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Image via Pixar.