posted by Joe Anaya on May 20th, 2013

I am for globalization and world wide economic interconnectedness. And I get a chuckle out of Matt W’s rants on his tech support struggles. So, here’s a little moment that Matt can add to his collection of anecdotes.

I had some trouble with a piece of software and needed some technical support. So, after patiently pressing 1, then 3, then 2, then 1, I finally get to a live person. The gentleman on the line speaks English with a distinctly Indian accent. I tell him my problem and he asks a clarifying question, which to me indicated that he’s a detail oriented person and has a handle on what I’m experiencing. So far, I’m feeling pretty good.

He says he just needs to confirm my identity by asking one of the security questions. It’s my wife’s account and because she has no patience for tech support, I simplify the process by just saying I’m her. Now, after being together for some 20 years, I know her mother’s maiden name, her best friend in grade school, her first pet’s name, etc., but there’s always a chance I might not know one of the answers to her security questions. But I say, “Go ahead.” He asks for the location of a particular event. “I know this one! Kings Road,” is my excited response. Now the trouble begins.

There’s a long pause, and tech support falteringly asks, “Excuse me?”

“Kings Road.”

Another long pause. “Can you repeat that?”

“Kings Road.” Something’s clearly wrong. I can hear him typing and making little frustrated guttural noises. I’m starting to second-guess my confidence. I know it’s Kings Road. Could it be something else? Think, think. No, I’m positive the answer is Kings Road.

Yet another long pause. Finally, he replies, “Can you spell that please?”

“Sure. K-I-N-G-S, second word R-O-A-D.” I can hear him typing. During the next long pause, my mind wonders, “Is the ‘s’ in KINGS singular possessive or plural possessive? Are there possessive apostrophes in passwords? Do all languages have apostrophes? What language do they speak in India? I think it’s Hindi. Is that a language? I’d like to go to India. ‘Gandhi’ was a good movie. Man, that Ben Kingsley can act.”

More typing and guttural noises. “I’m sorry sir, was that K-I-M-J-F?”

“What?” In my head, I’m trying to order the letters I heard into a word I knew, which I’m not particularly good at anyway. (My son could unscramble my wife’s “secret” message for N-A-P T-I-M-E faster than I could by the time he was 4 years-old.) “Uh, that’s not a word,” is my faltering response. Is it? No, definitely not.

“I’m sorry sir, can you please spell it again?”

I start again, “K as in–” So, this is the point in a typical conversation where I would use words to indicate which letter I’m talking about. But I realize under normal circumstances, I use people’s names like, “K as in Kelly.” But a guy who has apparently not heard the word KING may not know Kelly. So, what to do? In a transcendental moment of inspiration or racism, I rattle off the following:

“K as in Krishna,
I as in India,
N as in Nehru,
G as in Ganesh,
S as in Shiva.”

His response was, “Oh, KINGS. I understand.” He didn’t seem offended, maybe he was just relieved that he could proceed with the call or maybe he was impressed with the ugly American’s knowledge of words an Indian might know. I like to think the former. But either way, thanks to the help of my high school World Historical Problems teacher, my college Comparative Religions class and Sir Ben Kingsley, my (or my wife’s) identity was confirmed and he quickly fixed the software problem.

File Under Mr. Cool