About Me

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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I don't *think* I'm Prejudiced

Just to be clear: I do like a good joke. I don't get offended easily, and I enjoy humor of all tenors, be it religious, ethnic, sexual...whatever. I really don't consider myself to be a prejudiced person. Every element of humanity drives me nuts. Equally.

However, I DO live in America. I hate that there is so much outsourcing of the service industry, and when I have a problem, I end up talking to someone who I can't understand at all.

I can't understand them because of a few reasons that convene against me. Namely, (1) they don't speak English (or American: I kind of like to think that there's a difference, but I'll muddle through on English) well enough for (2) my old ears to hear "loudly", or (3) my mumble-hearing ears to discern (you mumble, I can't understand you...speak clearly, and we'll be fine).

I think that telemarketers in France ought to speak French. Telemarketers in Italy ought to speak Italian. It follows that telemarketers in America ought to speak American (or English, if they must). If you're going to call me to ask me a bunch of questions, you bloody well better speak either English or American.

Why the hell do credit card companies hire the unintelligible to call prospective customers?

>phone rings<
Against my better judgement, knowing that there's no one on the other side of the phone that I want to talk to,  as it is neither my wife nor is it me on the other side, I answer the phone.

"Halloe? Mumble mumble, heavy accent, mumble?"
"Oh, saorrie.  Mumble mumble, heavy accent, mumble?"
"Get the hell off of my phone, remove the marbles from your mouth, and don't bother calling back."

I've had non-English speaking folks call up looking to speak with "Rhina Carlone".

"I'm sorry, there's no one here by that name."

Speaking more slowly and carefully: "There's no Rita Carlson there?"

"Well, there is, but that's not what you said the first time."

"Well, I'm sure that I'm not the only one to make such a mistake."

"You damn well are, dipstick. That's not a 'mistake', it's a different friggin' name. Get the hell off of my phone."

I am continually irritated by the fact that we here in the glorious US of A bend over backwards to teach our yutes Spanish, so that they can communicate with Spanish-speaking folks more easily.

What the frick is that?!?! How about teaching folks who move here English (or again: American)?!? I'm kind of thinking that if I were to move to Spain, I should have to learn Spanish. If I move to Germany, I should have to learn German. Why the hell should I have to learn the language of folks moving into America?

I've heard people suggest that it's about keeping a culture alive. That culture is still alive where you came from; go back there and live in it. OR, come here and live in THIS culture. Learn our customs, and our blasted LANGUAGE.

My lovely wife is an RN. She reiterated to me a story where she had a Spanish-speaking patient once when she was on the labor and delivery floor. This woman was having a baby, and she had a bunch of punk-ass kids (like early 20's) there with her, and not one of them spoke English. She had a bit of a hard time communicating with the young lady to try to assess her status and get her the medical attention that she and her baby needed.

I call them punk-ass kids, because my wife knows a tiny bit of Spanish. Enough to know that all those punk-ass kids spoke perfect, fluent English, but they were getting a ton of fun out of seeing the crazy gringo nurse having trouble communicating with the patient. It was a game to them, and they were laughing at her.

I wonder how funny it'd have been to them if the mother or baby had died because of a lack of communication? I hate stupid people. Playing games when people's lives are on the line. Assholes.

In our high school, the kids can choose between Spanish, French, and American Sign Language (which I think is very different from English Sign Language). To hell with Spanish or French. How's about offering Latin? That's a language worth learning. Thinking on it, I bet it'd be easier to find out what language any given kid wants to learn, and buy them Rosetta Stone in that language. I bet it'd be more cost effective too.

My message of the night:

  • Learn the language of the land in which you live (when in Rome...);
  • When I call the bank, I DON'T want an automated message asking me to hit "numero dos para Espaniol"; I'M IN AMERICA...I WANT IT IN ENGLISH (or, you know, American);
  • If you're a company manning customer service phones, direct calls to folks who are native speakers of the language of the callers (call comes from Poland: rout to a Polish-speaking rep);
I traveled to Toronto once on business, and you can sure bet that I spent time learning to speak Canadian. Eh?

Am I being unfair here?


  1. No you are not being unfair.
    My particular pet peeve is calling for assistance with the internet when it goes down on me. (which it does with alarming regularity...like...every windy day.) I always end up with a tech from far India or Botswalia Land or some such other place. They speak softly and carry a huge accent. It has gotten to the point where I don't need to understand them any more...they always tell me to do what I have already done anyway....the problem is at the POST people..the POST. Strange, they have no problem understanding me (except for the POST part of course).
    The other problem with the techs from the far away lands is that they have a different attitude toward women and they are safely protected by a phone and many many miles. Sonny, if I could get my hands on you, you would not be garbling at me like I had melon seeds for brains.
    The older you get the more these communication problems annoy you.

  2. I agree we speak American and people should learn it coming here. My family did, in fact, my grandfather forbade anyone to speak Swedish in his house- his own parents, even. Communication is vital. Outsourcing to places where people make 30 cents an hour needs to stop, too. We're getting hosed in many ways with that practice.

  3. As an IT guy, I have to deal with lots of vendors, almost all of which have outsourced IT support... Thank god for online technical support chat.

  4. So where did your ancestors come from and did they speak English.

  5. I'm of Irish descent; my guess is that my ancestors spoke Gaelic, and some extremely heavily brogued version of a mix between Gaelic and English.

    Matt, I also thank technology for chat and e-mail, especially for technical support.

    Austan: Kudos for your grandfather for having such foresight. I don't think that I would have gone that far, but it's absolutely necessary to be able to communicate with folks in the neighborhood (especially "back in the day").

    Delores: You make a good point when people talk softly; my worst-case scenario is rapid speakers with heavy accents (or even without! My ears hear kind of slowly!)

    Be good, folks.

  6. On this website you can find a variety of tools that can help you prepare English language exercises within minutes. And its all FREE! COPY/PASTE or write the text you want to use in to our generators. Tools for english language

  7. Ummm...thanks...?

    Do you think that you might be able to send this message out to the telemarketers and service industry?

  8. I moved to Canada from northern England, and believe it or not, nobody understood me. I now speak Canadian, eh. ;)