Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s a combination of factors. Book deadline clenching like a fist (though nearly done now, thank God, just final tweaks), my mum moving house so various boxing up etc to be done… and just to improve matters enormously, my internet’s stopped working. The people who work in Virgin Media’s Mumbai call centre are my new best friends. We chat daily. They think someone might be able to drop round and fix it in a few days’ time. Maybe a week. They aren’t sure if he’ll be able to fix it. Who knows! How we laugh.
It’s bizarre to think that the internet didn’t exist a few years ago. How did I get so quickly to a place where it breaks down and my entire working life stops? Not to mention my social life, which was consisting, due to book edit, of online poker and the odd email. Now I’m marooned. When Virgin say they can’t send someone to fix it immediately, it feels like dialling 999 because your arm’s been chopped off, and the ambulance people saying “We might get there between 12 and 4 on Thursday.”
In the short term, I am filled with rage and hatred towards Virgin for not having enough technicians, not offering a better and faster service, and putting those nice people in India in the position where someone slightly less try-hard than me might start shouting at them because, through no fault of their own, there’s a slight language barrier, an irritating time delay, they aren’t allowed to give out direct contact numbers for the technical support people who might be coming round, and they can’t help with questions like “Are there independent technicians in London that I can hire separately from Virgin?” because they are thousands and thousands of miles away and they don’t know where to buy a pint of milk near me, never mind get your modem fixed. I’m sure they’re all very nice. But people have got a bit internet-hooked, now, and get a bit hot and scared and frustrated at the idea of being without it for days and weeks at a time.
Part of me thinks it might even be dangerous at a time when (as I’ve discovered after that Observer column a couple of weeks ago) the BNP actually seem to have more than three people who take them seriously, for Virgin to create a scenario where Indian people are OBLIGED to give bad news on a crackly line to people who just want to speak to an engineer within 50 miles. It’s really hard not to find yourself thinking that those jobs could have been given out locally and, although the news would still have been bad and the technical back-up still slow and shit, at least there wouldn’t be the time delay which makes everything so much trickier to communicate. It’s not because they’re Asian, it’s because they’re far away. But I bet that, at some subliminal level, it doesn’t help the culture for the principle of a giant call centre and a series of mechanical button-pressing options (which everyone hates anyway) to be combined with the idea of work going abroad when people are short of money here. It’s like wishing there were more white traffic wardens, which I always do. It seems so harsh for people who suffer prejudice anyway to be stuck with the jobs that always make people SO INCREDIBLY ANGRY.
But maybe in the long term the lack of internet will be good for me; with the principle of immediate news/information/communication delivery completely removed, perhaps I shall learn patience and how to live a more peaceful and old-fashioned life…..