LAST WEEK I was in Austin, Texas. Home to a million bats – not all of which are evil, it seems. The atria are fantastic!
So I get to Austin TX airport on my way to Dallas and decide I’ll have a burger and a beer at the bar just opposite my “gate”.
You cannot buy an alcoholic drink there without showing a picture ID. Heck, I’m old, but the guy on my right was about 75 and he had to show his photo ID too.
I foolishly thought that America didn’t have ID cards – we still don’t in the UK despite the efforts of the fascists. I don’t have a driving licence, I had a passport at the bar. I have an NUJ (National Union of Journalists) photo ID. It’s recognised by the Metropolitan Police.
Maybe I should have flashed that. So much for freedom and justice.
AN INDIAN GUY we met today used to work at a Call Centre here in Ole Bengaluru, in a vast hall containing 500 employees all committed to the night shift in India calling America to sell bank accounts to punters.
His name is not Mark Spencer but that is the name he was given. He had to make 400 calls in an eight hour day to America and according to him the worst place to call from Bangalore is Texas.
He has a vast command of the range of swearwords he heard in his incarnation as Mark Spencer and gave a harrowing account of life in the call centre trenches.
The employees were forbidden to answer calls of nature while they were on the phone to potential customers, but sometimes the need was so great they ducked under the desk to fulfil it. Old people they called were the easiest to sign up because old people say yes to every question. Later however, they would receive an irate call from son or daughter saying rude things.
The offer letter from HR to a candidate was couched in the nicest of language but omitted to mention that no Indian holidays were available. Instead, they had to learn about important American holidays such as Halloween.
Mark Spencer only lasted 15 days selling bank accounts to America. He said that where he worked, no employee was allowed to answer back to abuse. The Microsoft call centre, however, is quite different. There, a line in the sand is drawn so that if someone badly abuses an employee, she or he is allowed to answer back in kind. One of his colleagues, for example, asked him to spell the word m***********. Was m**** his first name and f***** his last name, he wondered. He was instantly terminated and escorted from the premises in the Call Centre never to lighten its doors again. μ