Friday, February 07, 2014

Talking Points

You think that I don't even mean
A single word I say
It's only words, and words are all
I have to take your heart away - "Words", Bee Gees 1969

Did she go to work or just go to the store
All those things she said, I told you to ignore
Oh why can't we talk again
Oh why can't we talk again
Oh why can't we talk again
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone - "Hanging on the Telephone", Debbie Harry, from The Nerves - 1978

Comfort, Texas
I have a friend. She is a really good friend. An American friend. I really like her. I will call her X.

I have been friends with X  now for many years. I usually argue with my friends. It is just how I am.

My excuse for the arguing is that I really care about them (on my side),and they are very annoying (their side).  X  knows she is annoying, and I think it is because we are at one on this point, that the friendship has continued for so many years.

X is special. I don't have many American friends. Also she is "centered" as they say on the West Coast. Well, here as well. And in OZ. But I think it started on the West Coast. Being centered as opposed to self-centered I mean. X is both. I don't think she can see the difference between "centered" and "self-centered". I fact I doubt she has even thought about centeredness - in terms of her own behavior, that is. And as for me, I am impressed!

Last evening X called me. X is the only person I know, who puts people on hold when SHE initiates the call. "I haven't got a lot of time," she told me when I picked up. She was in a pharmacy and was asking one of the workers about the different body exfoliates.

All I could hear was her discussion with the pharmacy person,  interrupted by "I am still here, just be PATIENT!" Then I heard the cash register ring and she said "I am getting on the train to the East Village now," and the phone went dead. That's what it's like having X as a friend. There is no point in saying anything. It is a put-up-or-shut-up sorta thing.

I was at X's house last week, when  she got one of those annoying calls. You know the type. When someone who you have never heard of, from a company you have never dealt with, calls and says, "Hello Kate (or whoever you are). And what sort of day are you having today?"

I usually answer something along the lines of, "Who are you? " Or "I'm busy!" Or "This isn't Kate; she is in the hospital. with a terminal illness."

X just snapped at the caller, "If you can't say what you are calling about in one sentence, then I'm not interested."

I can't do that. I am  more passive aggressive, or so I have been told. Sometimes I just put the phone down and go to the bathroom. By the time I get back they have gone.

But there ARE times that I rise to the occasion.

Like today. I took a call. "Hi can I speak to Eric?" it asked. "No!" I answered in a very firm voice. "He never wants to talk to you again."

Last week I had a call from a young woman with a name like "Madison" spelled wrong. It was about ten in the morning on the East coast, even earlier in the morning on the West coast."

"Good afternoon," she said, "my name is Madison and how are you feeling today?" "It isn't afternoon," I said. "Well it feels like afternoon," she replied. And then, "I would like to talk you about retirement villages."

I hated her. I hated her before when said about the retirement villages - I hated her when she didn't know what time of day it was. "I am not interested in talking to someone who doesn't know what time of day it is," I answered,  and - well you can't "slam the phone down" anymore. So I just double clicked the home button on my iPhone and went upon my way.

Ten days ago I needed to call my bank in Australia. Now I have an excellent phone service in New York. It costs me nothing to call OZ, but  the Commonwealth Bank of Australia doesn't know that.

Mid Town NYC
I had been in a prickly mood all morning. It was around 11:00 am in New York - 3:00 pm in Sydney when I came off "hold" and the Men at Work musak. Wanting to get back to whatever I'd been doing, I went straight to the point, and explained that I was calling from New York and it was quite expensive to be on hold, so I hoped we could get to my question.

Being Australian, the customer service person was called Janelle and not Madison. "Oh what's it like in New York?" she asked. This was coming from one of my own people so I didn't snap her head off. "It is very cold,"  I answered." "And what is it like to live there?" she said. I tried to summarise 18 years of living in NYC into one sentence.

"Jeez," Janelle said, "I want to go there one day How did you get there? D'you think I'd get work?"

My tolerance limit was reached. "I am calling about my bank balance and I really can't give you a travelogue on New York City," I said, in a nasty voice, thereby justifying all of the expats-are-annoying-especially-the-ones-in America thing, and undoing my attempt at being a nice person. The line went dead.

I guess Janelle wont be coming to New York anytime soon. As for me, I am going to take politeness classes from my friend X.

She's nailed it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You, take politeness lessons?
Why, you live in New York and should keep a little edge, Kate. Or even if you live in Oz and bump into lots of twenty-somethings. I have found that in Arizona, the twenty/thirty somethings are kinda mellow. Don't need much of an edge here. But in six weeks, it's back to latte-land in the North West - Seattle. Better sharpen up my repartee. But then, I'm pretty deaf (too many jet engines and propellers in my youth) so maybe it won't matter. Since I'm totally cell, I don't seem to get any marketing calls. Dunno why.
Maybe I oughta start a Seattle Newsletter. Get my daughter's 'social media' hack to promote it. Hmmmm, a good intention which will probably fall by the wayside as we decorate our empty condo and besides, who'd wanna read it? Not enough spice.
Took a two hour drive up the 'super slab' to Tempe yesterday - about an hour and a half north and investigated Ikea's line of bookshelves. They weren't bad and didn't look at all cheap as a lot of Ikea's stuff has in the past. I know, it's all made by slave labor in the frozen Russian tundra, but the Yank stuff is really spend. What to do?

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