Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Line Sirkit

A few years ago I worked as a customer service representative at a large, world-wide computer company. I don't really want to say which one it is, so for the purposes of this blog entry, we'll go ahead and call it Hell.

I first started at Hell during the summer of 2006. The group of newbies I was hired with were in a training class every day. For the first week we spent our days in a classroom, learning applications and procedures. The next week we were put on the phones, taking calls from irate customers who had all kinds of computer issues. Not technical ones, just customers needing help tracking their Hell package, or exchanging their Hell Computer.

My very first phone call. I was incredibly nervous to take the phone call, but I lined up my notes in a neat stack, did a quick review of my opening script (Thank you for calling Hell, my name is Julie, how may I help you today?) and accepted the first call.

Now first of all, I was so nervous I stumbled over my opening lines and could feel myself blushing furiously. All during training we heard all kinds of horror stories about furious customers, bomb threats, screaming callers, and complicated issues. I just knew that my first call would be a doozy.

And it was.

The lady who was calling Hell that day was incredibly polite. Oozing with sweetness and Southern charm. And when I say Southern, I mean Southern. Picture the deep swamps of Georgia, then go a little further South. Little more. Little more. Yep, that's where she was from. Very, very strong accent, a lot of ya'lls and yes'ms. She spoke incredibly fast and I was getting very flustered as I was sorting through the information I had on my notes and scrambling through the complicated computer system.

I took a deep breath and asked her to please explain the problem again. She, again very politely, said "No probm ma'am. The som'n som'n line sirkit and ya'lls som'n som'n, k ma'am? So I kulled the please and ya'lls...." I was lost. I calmly placed her on hold and then took off my headphones and shot a panicked look around the room. I found my trainer and explained what was going on.

"I can't understand this lady! She's talking about a line SIRKIT or something? Help!"

I got back on the phone with my trainer by my side and asked the woman to repeat the problem slowly, explaining that I could not understand what she was saying because of her accent. She laughed and again blathered on about a line sirkit with little pause for breath. I was near tears now. I started to think she was talking about something related to the circuit board, which would be a technical problem. I started to direct her towards Hell's technical support team, but she insisted it was not a technical problem.

This went on for about twenty more minutes. Her talking about line circuits, and me confused and unsure of how to help her. I asked her if she was talking about a computer part. She said no. I asked her if something was wrong with her computer. She said yes. I asked her how we could fix the problem. She said "I need a new computer because line circuit."

Wait, line circuit?

Then very sloooowwwwlllly she said "Ma'am lass nigh' there was a big stome (storm). There was thunner and LINE and all a suddn, LINE CIRCUIT. Now my computer's broke."

"Ooooooh, there was thunder and lightening and lightening struck it?"

"Yes'm. Line circuit."

I think this is where my deep loathing of the word ya'll was founded. Hearing that word sends shivers down my spine. It reminds me of the day I cried over the southern woman calling Hell's customer service about her line circuit.


Corey~living and loving said...

oh me oh my....I see it can go both ways now. I always hate it when I call customer service and I can't understand THEM. thanks for giving me some perspective.

Kyle and Samantha said...

You are sooo FUNNY! I had to let Kyle read this (: whenever I call HELL customer support the employees always seem soo nervous (even though I am soo nice!) I couldn't possibly imagine what company you're talking about!

Jen said...

OMG Jules....I have tears streamin' down my face...Andrew is asking me what's so funny! Totally brought back memories of working for UHC & having southerners calling...some of those calls! Too funny :)

Millicent said...

Great work.

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