Sunday, December 20, 2009

Press 1 for English

I came across a group on Facebook called something along the lines of "Why Should I have to Press 1 for English?" and it just pissed me off.

But because there's an entire group of people on Facebook who apparently need an answer to that question so badly that they've organized, I thought I would help them out and tell them the answer.

The reason you have to press 1 for English is because the company, organization or whatever that you are calling has clients, customers or whatever who either don't speak English or prefer to conduct their business in their native language. Now, before you start raging against people wanting to conduct their business in their native language, remember that you want the same thing, so badly that it apparently pisses you off that others don't see the advantages of conducting their business in your language, too.

But maybe that's not why they are pissed off. Maybe the anti-1-dialers simply don't like it when companies provide reasonable service to their customers. If that's the case, why are they even calling?

Or maybe they just plain don't like pressing phone buttons. Well, if that's the new white man's burden, I suppose they should be congratulated for displaying the intestinal fortitude needed to reach the company's automated answering system in the first place. I mean, that requires dialing, like, 10 digits. After that flurry of activity, I can see how pushing one more button must seem like carrying a piano up Mt. Everest. And yet they find the strength to soldier on. It's that kind of dedication and refusal to quit, even in the face of the most daunting of odds, that makes me proud of my fellow Americans.

Or maybe they just don't like automated answering systems. I'm right there with them. And for that unique inconvenience we can thank the executives who decided to buy computer systems to answer their customers' calls instead of paying humans to do it. But I doubt that's what their beef is about, because the Facebook group I saw wasn't called, "Why Should I have to Press 0 to speak with a human?"

Perhaps it's not all that service or all that dialing or all that time wasted listening to a computer pretend to interact with them that has these patriots so salty. Perhaps the real issue is that the "press 1 for English" message is an automated reminder that some God-loving, red-blooded American has lost a job to a God-loving, red-blooded foreigner. Well, to them I say, if you're angry about American jobs being shipped overseas, thank the CEO who decided that he could save a few bucks by laying off Americans and shipping their jobs off to (insert country name here). Don't blame the customer-service rep. for taking a job. She has to eat too, and it wasn't her idea to ship that job overseas.

Besides, when was the last time you declined a job because you felt someone in another country deserves it more?

Blaming foreigners for taking jobs that corporations have shipped to foreign countries makes about as much sense as blaming foreigners for speaking foreign languages in foreign countries.

And maybe that's the real issue here. But I hope not. I can understand anger about jobs being shipped overseas so that a corporation can avoid paying an American a decent, living wage and instead exploit the poor in other countries. (In this coutnry, we have these pesky laws about things like the minimum wage, working conditions and overtime. So companies avoid them by shipping jobs overseas, where they are free to pay their workers almost nothing and treat them essentially as slaves. But Republicans oppose those oppressive laws, so don't worry: One bright, shining day, you too may be able to work 100 hours a week in dangerous, deplorable conditions for poverty-level wages). What I can't understand is baseless, ignorant xenophobia. What I don't understand is buying into the lie that the working class in this country is being exploited and suppressed by those who are even poorer than they are.

Do the homeless have the power to eliminate jobs and slash wages? Are undocumented immigrants living like kings in gated communities, making more money in an hour than most people make in a year? Are families facing foreclosure having their mortgages paid off by the government, or is the government simply handing trillions of dollars to giant banks and getting nothing whatsoever in return? If the poor in this country are exploiting the working class, they are doing a really shitty job at it, because they have almost nothing to show for it.

Know your real oppressor, people.

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Blogger Luis said...

I suspect it annoys people for the same reason it annoys me.I understand it, but it does annoy me, but more for the wasted time than anything else. When I am abroad and dial the phone, I must speak the local language to get what I need. I speak Spanish, Italian, some French, but of course would be in a bind anywhere else in the world. Here we make allowances for those who do not speak English(although it is primarily Spanish that is at issue here for the Press 1 people), but I would be trying my best to learn the language of the country in which I was living. I suspect that immigrants apparent unwillingness to learn English is also an issue for those who dont like the Press 1 issue.

I enjoy your site, although I am not always in agreement with all you say. Thank you

12/26/2009 04:17:00 PM  

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