Friday, September 15, 2006

bikes, phones and football

Best time of year

It was a great week for riding... well, really for doing anything outdoors... we're getting into my favorite time of year now. Summer is more or less over, but we're seeing highs in the 80s and 90s. And it will cool off a bit in October and November, but it's still a great time of year in north Texas. The first two or three days behind a cold front -- clear skies, cooler temperatures, a light breeze -- are the absolute best time of the year to be doing anything outside. Gotta love it!

Here are a few photos from my recent bike rides:

UP 8320 southbound at Keller. September 12, 2006.

CEFX 3183 northbound at Roanoke. Sept 12, 2006.

A common sight in our neighborhood:

a FedEx jet on approach to Alliance Airport. Sept 12, 2006.

Southbound BNSF freight north of Haslet. Sept 14, 2006.

Adventures in phone-based customer service

So the other day I had to call Dell Financial Services to take care of a problem with the account I set up when I ordered my new desktop system. After negotiating a maddening series of touch-tone phone menus, I was connected to a real, live person... who was quite obviously answering my call in an overseas call center. In a thick Indian accent, she said that her name was Linda and that she'd be glad to help me. Now, I know that the call centers assign these people fake, American-sounding names to make callers feel more comfortable. (Would you feel more comfortable explaining that you missed a payment to someone named "Mike" or someone named "Tejveer"?) But who the hell do those people think they're fooling... has anyone in America named their daughter "Linda" in the past 30 years?

I could hear many other voices in the background (it was obviously a crowded office) and I had to ask her to repeat herself a couple of times because I was having trouble understanding her. I struggled to keep my patience and to remain polite; am I wrong to expect that someone working on behalf of an American company answer my call FROM AMERICA? She was likely performing a job that someone here in the U.S. had done just a few years ago. And for God's sake, these people have access to my social security number and all manner of personal information about me!

But my conscience got the better of me... this young lady exhibited a good attitude, and seemed genuinely interested in helping me. At one point, she told me to log on to the Dell Financial Services website, and seemed surprised that I was able to do it so quickly (yes, I was sitting at my computer when I called). I can only imagine what impression these people must have of Americans ... here we are with luxuries that most of us take for granted, and she's stuck working a night shift in a crowded office answering our angry phone calls. I didn't want to contribute to any preconceived stereotypes (however accurate they might be) of Americans being arrogant, angry, and rude.

If I came away from that phone call with anything -- besides hopefully getting my account fixed up -- it was with the renewed realization that I should count my blessings and not take my lifestyle for granted. I understand that the standard of living in India is improving, but it's still probably a far cry from what we enjoy here in the states. I answer calls for a living, too... but I'm talking to train crews, yardmasters and track workers who are ALWAYS pleasant and courteous (yeah, right). And when my 8 hours are up, I get in my truck and drive to my nice home where my biggest worry is whether the kids are gonna get their toys picked up on Sunday before the football game comes on. God help me the day my job moves overseas...

Speaking of Football...

... did anyone bother to remind the Cowgirlz after last week's loss to Jacksonville that there are FOUR QUARTERS in football? They looked great in the first quarter, out to a 10-0 lead with Owens making a couple of catches and Jones looking good both rushing and receiving. And the defense showed that the pre-season hype was well justified. After that, it just kind of all fell apart; they allowed 24 unanswered points and Bledsoe finished the day with three interceptions. They'd better come prepared to play the full four quarters against the Redskins on Sunday. If they start out 0-2, it's gonna be a long season.

Whiskey's World Series of Pop Culture (installment 3 of an occasional series)

3) Name the comedian / actor who played the character "Stickpin Quinn" on the 1980s MTV game show "Remote Control".

To play, respond via email or by posting a comment in the "comments" section below.

No one responded with the correct answer to number 2... the answer was "Private Resort".


nr: Jack Kerouac - On the Road

np: David Garza - the 4-track manifesto!


Blogger Bayou said...

Either Sandler or Leary...I cant remember without looking it up.

6:33 PM  

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