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My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

India: the rant rising

Around our house, we have a name for customer service people from India who we end up talking with on the phone: Priscilla. If I tell my wife or sons that I had a long talk with Priscilla today, they know exactly who I'm referring to. In the past it's usually been representatives of CompuServe or Delta Air Lines. And it's always frustrating.

These people are taught how to interact with Americans . . . sort of. They are fed some warm and fuzzy catchphrases that if you're lucky will jibe with the time of the day you have called them. They are coached in losing their delightful accents, and sorry to say, they probably have to stuff a good bit of their IQs to deal with the folks who call. But some things still just don't get across.

Mostly with me it deals with my name: Bob. Not a hard one. Pronounced almost universally through the contiguous United States as "Bahb." When I’m speaking to Priscilla or her boyfriend, usually it comes back to me as “Bawp.” Kind of like the Ramones when they’re singing “Blitzkreig Bop.”

OK? So why "Priscilla"? Because invariably these obvious South Asians do not have names that go with their country like Aruna or Swaminandahili or well, anything else that’s fourteen syllables long with a vowel for every second consonant. After their scripted spiel, it’s always, “This is Priscilla” or “My name is Oliver Wendell Douglas” or “Hi, I’m Joseph.” And they will meet every one of my requests perfectly and I will leave the phone happy. I was actually told exactly those words one day. I hope they have since discarded that script.

So, I’m on the phone with Joseph one day, and he has my account information in front of him as I’m reciting my name, rank, and serial number. Over the thousands of miles and dozen time zones, I can tell that Joseph is having trouble processing the information. He stops me and says, “You say you’re name is Bawp. So who is Rawbert?”

Quickwitted as I was that day, I put on the friendly downhome American voice and say, “C’mon, Joseph. All your friends call you Joe, don’t they? It's the same thing."


I really like my current Internet provider because they are 24/7, and they are almost literally right up the street here in Bristol. The best time to call them is about 4 in the morning. You have their undivided attention, they always know the answers, they don't give me any guff for being an idiot (because you're always an idiot when you're calling), and not a freaking one of them is named Priscilla.

1 comment:

moi said...


Moi's lifetime allegiance to Apple was just about loosened last year when I had to call Apple Care for the very first time in the history of my universe. Seems all their folks are either Priscillas or play her on T.V. Luckily, I have a husband who is wise in all things related to anything technological and he usually has the problem solved long before I find myself settling down for the long haul with a bottle of scotch and a 38.