Hadji vs The Hardware Guys

May17/ 2003

Which would you rather do … (1) call a software technical support # … (2) visit your local hardware store for a whatchamacallit?  …Not even close, #3 wins by a landslide and #1 being a distant 3rd in the voting… Sucking out a pig’s brains is perceived as “more pleasant” than enduring the living hell of a Calcutta call-center… There IS a reason that Lowe’s and Home Depot hire English speaking floor personnel.

   We had a fine holiday season in BL Land.  Kid enjoyed her 16th consecutive Christmas with the tree in the same spot and every family tradition carefully recreated “just like we always do it”.  16 years out of 16 is pretty darn impressive in our mobile, rootless society.  The Mizzus and I think that stability may be our most everlasting legacy to our daughter.  #2 is a porcelain “piano baby” from Mizzus’ Grandmother Hunter … #3 is a lever-action Winchester 30-30 given to moi on my 16th birthday.  Don’t laugh. Have you ever tried to scare off a burglar with a porcelain piano baby? 

   Anyway, we had quite a nice traditional Christmas completely ignoring all the secular attempts to deny us the comforting pleasure of our chosen religious traditions.  Best EVER was Kid playing “Mary” at age 5 in a Kid’s Living Nativity Scene and placing her flannel “binkie” in the manger for Baby Jesus.   

   OK … enough nice happy talk … I’m PISSED!  On Friday I noticed my Norton Anti-Virus subscription was about up, so I began what seemed an innocent procedure to upgrade and resubscribe.  Dante’s descent into the utter depths of Hell had to be more enjoyable.  Unless his trip to Hell India-call-centerpassed thru India … which has become synonymous with Hell for anyone seeking tele-support for anything. 

   My congratulations to Symantec.  Their customer support geniuses have planted more booby traps, land mines, tiger pits, and life-sapping time bombs within their system than the Viet Cong put along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  By the time one actually gets “Hadji” or his sister on the line, you have climbed up and down more “phone trees” than you can count.

   I confess to no idea “how telephones work” but Symantec apparently has a sensor that alerts them which “customers” are the most frustrated by the time they actually get to the “phone center”.  Those customers are automatically given to the operators with the very thickest accents.  Mahatma Ghandi couldn’t understand these people and what’s more, even Ghandi would lose his patience trying to.

   Look, I have dealt with these Indian call-centers for several years, like everyone has.  I simply hit TILT this time.  AAARRRGGGHHH!

   Now I AM a compassionate fellow.  I have this image of these poor (and I mean “poor”) souls chained to their headsets with cruel overseers standing over them with bullwhips.  Think Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom. If an overseer hears a single word in decipherable English, the entire cellblock gets their rice ration cut in half.  

   My standard opening line is “I am mad as hell but I know it’s not your fault.  Please help me.”.  Their response is unintelligible, I bang my head on my desk, and begin a 20 minute exercise in total futility ending in “How do you say ‘F*** it’ in Hindustani?”  I realize it’s not Hadji’s fault but Mr Symantec ain’t nowhere to be found. He’s back in San Jose processing my credit card order.

   I am sure Symantec employs 1,000s of Indians who speak fluent English.  They are all assigned to the Norwegian call-center.

   I am at that cusp in life where I like to think I can still learn new technology but in truth I’m at the mercy of these horrid companies that really don’t care if I leave them for a competitor’s product.  The labor cost of these Calcutta call-centers must be so low that 50% of their customers are pure profit.

   Luckily for me, my compu-guy “Doctor Danny” has several other anti-virus products to recommend as have several readers.  I know not what lies ahead but by damn I AM THROUGH WITH SYMANTEC!  Dip that in curry powder and stick it up your butt Hadji.

By contrast… go into just about any hardware store in America.  I know the Ace folks say they give better service than the “big box” guys but I find both are outstanding.  I have an Ace and a Lowe’s about equi-distant from BL Manor – six versus half a dozen.  

   I passed thru my Black & Decker period some years ago.  I managed to maneuver thru those stressful years keeping all my fingers, toes, and vital organs.  I did develop a more colorful vocabulary by always forgetting “measure twice, cut once”.  

   The Mizzus and I were living in San Antonio when Bob Vila came to me in a vision and said I was killing the reputation of home handymen everywhere.  The next day I took my entire Black & Decker tools of ignorance collection to my office and left them outside my door with a “take me, please” sign on them.  I hope they found a nice home with a patient man who could keep track of “a chuck”.  It was Year One of my 21 year union with the Mizzus … we reflect each anniversary about how that single act may have saved our marriage.

   Since then my “projects” are confined to some wall painting, hanging a few pictures, and installing a new shower curtain once a year.  I did learn a new handyman skill just last week.  Santa left me a truck full of laminated flooring for my Fortress of Solitude.  I called Hank The Handyman to install it but I discovered I was psychologically well-matched to rip out the existing carpet and pad.  Who knew that “tearing stuff up” was a handyman skill.  Bob Vila would be proud.

When I go to a hardware store these days I go directly to the Help Desk.  Countless hours of aimless aisle roaming ala Hansel & Gretel finally drove me to that unmanly habit.  Apparently Hadji and Hardware don’t go together.  The Hardware Store people speak and understand American English spoken in an Eastern North Carolina dialect.  

   Even better, I can use phrases like “whatchamacallit” and “thingamagig” and they immediately say “Aisle 14, on the left hand side”.  And by damn if the 3/8” thingamagig” actually IS on Aisle 14, on the left hand side.   

   Better yet … when I get to Aisle 14, there is usually a kindly gentleman wearing an employee vest in the vicinity who asks politely “whatcha planning on doing with that?”  I tell him and he responds “You could use that but I suggest one of these, and a roll of that duct tape.  Do you have sheet rock anchors?”  I have collected enough sheet rock anchors to securely hang a Buick from our living room ceiling (but I’m pretty sure that violates my blood oath agreement with Mizzus and Bob Vila’s ghost that I made back in San Antonio).

   It gets better.  I try to schedule my hardware store visits on weekends when the Sobret hot dog wagon guy is set up right outside the Exit doors.  “Two with chili and yellow mustard and a Pepsi, please.”  The entire experience is Swagger-friendly from the get-go.

   Now if we can just get Lowe’s to develop computer software … I wonder if the Hardware Guys in Calcutta speak English or Hindustani?  Does Hadji have to call a support-center in Shreveport and speak to a disletic cajun with a lisp when he needs to “upgrade”? I hope so.  Better yet … I want Hadji to visit King’s Barbecue in Kinston and try to order a barbecue plate with a side of brunswick stew, collards and banana pudding with sweet tea … hehehehehe!


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