Lament not, fellow IndianWed, 25th Apr '07, 12:35 pm::

I am at work right now, on hold with Dell, trying to renew the warranty on some servers we purchased last year. I can easily whine about how awful the overall support nightmare is, having talked to over twelve people in the last two hours. But right now, I want to sadly talk about something that has been bugging me for years now - the pitiful tone and the lamenting language of the average Indian call center employee.

Having lived in India for the first twenty years of me life, I am well-aware of the social constructs, language barriers, and job market woes. So I have nothing but utter respect for the hundreds of thousands of hard-working, honest call center employees. I have a few friends in Delhi that work for outsourcing firms and many of these kids are brilliant. I am hurt every time I hear anyone stereotyping and insulting them online and offline, just for being different and hard to comprehend. I had a strong Indian-accent when I first came here and I still have problems being understood sometimes. Being packed in a cubicle with 3 others, stuck on a phone with irate customers for ten hours a day is not an easy way to feed your kids. So I understand how difficult things can be.

However, what drives me crazy is the pathetic "Sorry Sir," "Thank you very much Sir," "Please wait Sir" language that these folks are forced to use. It makes me ashamed to think that my people, even after sixty years of Independence from the British, still have to portray a public image of servitude, inferiority, and desperation when interacting with non-Indians.

The blame lies not with the workers. It lies with the management, often-times Indian, that enforces these scripted rituals of verbal enslavement. The employees maybe humble yet proud Indians but since their paycheck relies on them using these "Sir, Sorry Sir, Please Sir" interjections, they have to behave like dismal Third-World outcasts. What angers me the most is that these are well-educated, highly-skilled, respected people forced to behave like servants for some mythical foreigner 8,000 miles away. When I interact with people here in US, this is they behavior they expect of me. I'm sorry but if anyone expects me to be a sorry little Indian boy, you can bet they'll be my personal dartboard for a long, long time.

If you have ever called customer support and have been frustrated because it is hard to understand the person at the other end, realize that they have the same problem understanding you. All I can say is speak clearly and respectfully. It's not their fault your cellphone battery doesn't charge. What right do you have to insult a complete stranger solely because they sound different? You certainly wouldn't pull that on a cop with a different accent, so why are these hard-working individuals fair game for insolence? If you truly want to retaliate against the company, stop buying their crappy phones.

Now if this message ever reaches a call center employee, I have just one single request for you. Please Sir/Ma'am, be proud of yourself Sir, and boldly refuse to use the Sorry lines that your Respected Boss Sir Kindly Requested you to use Sir, Thank You Sir.

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