Sunday, December 30, 2007

"I" as in India: New year, new computer

Lately, every computer I touch dies a miserable techno death. It seems that I posses a super power--one that could potentially paralyze vital informational systems all over the world. If I were truly evil I could wreak some major havoc with this new found power but the only people I've inflicted any harm upon are myself and my hubby. I've been through 3 computers in the past couple of months. Two of which are on loan (oopsie). So, against my better judgment, I decided to shell out for a new laptop--what's a girl to do?

After about twenty minutes of research on the top notebooks out there, I found what seemed to be the best fit for me. I has some specific needs that weren't included in the package so I figured I should speak to an actual human in order to ensure an accurate order--and maybe even haggle a bit:

Computer Rep (CR): Hello welcome to (insert name of giant computer company/monopoly/megalomaniacs). My name is Brittney. How may I be of service to you today?

PhDini (PD): Hi, um, Brittney. Is that really your name? (Feeling rather vulnerable to begin with, when forking over thousands of dollars, I like to talk to people I can quasi-trust. Given the CR's strong accent--and clearly not a French one--I just couldn't believe that her name was Brittney.)

CR: Yes, mem (I'm guessing she meant ma'am), it is.
PD: Really? Huh. Where are you Brittney?
CR: Um, the United States of America, mem. I am where you are.
PD: Mhm. Really? You are where I am. Where exactly would that be? (Hubby looks confused as he listens to my side of the conversation.)
CR: In the United State of America. Mem, is there something I can help you with today?
PD: Ok, whatever. Yes, I need a new laptop.
CR: Ok, have you purchased a (insert overpriced crap computer brand here) previously?
PD: Yes, and it died. I was using it without a problem for 2 years and it just decided that it wouldn't start anymore.
CR: Do you have a protection plan?
PD: I had the basic plan that comes with the computer for the first year. So, I guess that's a no.
CR: I see (sounding rather smug).
PD: Yep. Not so smart on my part. But had the computer actually lived up to the hype that the company pushes on us, I don't think I would have needed it.
CR: Excuse me?
PD: Nevermind.
CR: Ok, mem. Can I have your name please?
PD: Sure. It's PhDini.
CR: PhTini?
PD: No, PhDini. P, as in Peter. H, as in, um...Harry? D as in dog. I as I don't know...
CR: I as in India.
PD: Yes, I as in INDIA. That came rather quickly to you, Brittney. Indeed, I as in Innndeeeyah.
CR: Um, yes. Ehem, so then it's N, as in Nancy.
PD: Right. And then in India.
CR: Thank you, mem.
PD: Are you in India, Brittney?
CR:, mem, I am not. I'm in the Unites States of America.
PD: Really? (Could my finely tuned intuition be failing me, too?)
CR: Ok....(sigh)... I am in India. I am trained to say that I am where you are. To increase the trust. My name is Rumia, Ok?
PD: I knew it!! Why didn't you just say so. I trust you way more now. I know everyone outsources these days, I just wish we'd all be honest about it.
CR: Ok, mem. So which computer do you want? (Rumia is clearly annoyed now.)
PD: Which computer? Right, um. Oh, man. I totally forgot!
CR: I am sorry, mem. You forgot?!
PD: Yes, I did. Maybe I can pull it up on my husband's laptop, which is still immune to me. Just wa--

Oh well. Suffice it to say, I royally pissed off Rumia. I do feel bad about that. It's not her fault her company makes her lie to unsuspecting customers. It's not her fault that they force her to use a tainted, uber-American moniker. Nor is it her fault that her employer likely makes her give up her evenings with her family to take accent-elimination courses. I really wish Rumia the best of luck in her accent-elimination endeavors.

I'm actually not altogether opposed to outsourcing. After reading about how you can outsource your life in Esquire, a friend of mine hired an assistant in India to do personal assistant type of stuff (emailing, phoning, making reservations for him). I haven't followed up on how his arrangement has been going but in the face of a new year, with many many new tasks to be completed, I can see how it would be nice to get a little help from a friend abroad. How does this relate to psychology? Well, aside from the implications of tricking customers into feeling comfy with outsourced salespeople, I think perhaps that much of the negativity my brain absorbs from my clients may well be wirelessly streaming into my computers and killing them--not so softly, I might add. But I'm a scientist. A researcher, in fact. So this is just a hypothesis. Obviously, there is no causation with correlations. Just coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

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