Do you have to deal with bureaucracy often? This can be city, county, state, federal, or various other government-related agencies. Then there are private sector insurance companies, internet service providers, medical, and many other companies one may be required to deal with on a regular basis.
SpeakerphoneThe speakerphone is the main key. One simply turns the thing on and then goes about their business while waiting for a human. My longest wait so far has been over 45 minutes. I was amazed at the amount of work I got done during that time. Needless to say, this described procedure will not be appreciated by the cell phone battery and/or will wreak havoc on any time-measured service plan you may be using. If you have to routinely deal with these kinds of bureaucratic calls all the time, then a Lifeline phone service plan is your best bet, preferably landline; it is amazing how many people qualify for this service. You may even be able to tie in a DSL or broadband internet service plan along with it at an amazingly low price.
Whatever your phone and plan situation is, the next two steps still apply.
PreparationHave a blank sheet of paper and pen ready before making the call. Try to write down all your thoughts and questions before making the call. In fact, you will even think of more thoughts and questions to write down after you have made the call and are waiting for that elusive human.
Interaction.When a human finally answers, get their name. Then explain your situation and begin going though your questions and thoughts list. Be sure to check off each thought as you mention them. Be sure to write down the answers to the questions you've asked. Be sure to write down the inevitable new thoughts, questions and answers that come to mind during the conversation. If a future appointment date and time is involved, repeat it back to them so as to confirm it.
Most people just pick up the phone and try to wing it. Please don't do that. Invariably they remember after the call that they forgot to volunteer an important piece of information or to ask a crucial question.
Good Luck! It Can Be Done!
And as a side note, don't even try contacting bureaucracies on Mondays.