Changing the world

Finding myself faced with any problem without Adam here to help me, has for a long time been something that I have simply prayed wouldn’t happen. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but I was heading through life quietly just hoping. There is so much about life that most people can deal with without thought, but not me, not any longer at least. I used to be one of those people who could think on their feet and have things fixed, before, most others even noticed there was an issue. After all, it was my job to keep an entire company functioning, so keeping a house functioning should even now be simple. Adam only leaves me on my own for the time he is working, it’s a handful of hours each day, so what could go so wrong, so urgently, that I had to fix it there and then. Outside of burst pipes and structural failure of the building, not much you would think. Well, there are probably not many, that are going to get my interest quite as fast, as either losing the TV signal, or the internet going down. It was one of them that got my attention this morning, the internet went down, yet again. I have been having problems for weeks. It’s been flicking in and out of service, but never for more than a few minutes. This morning, it went down, nothing, for nearly an hour.

Having spent over 15 years of my life working within a call centre environment, you would think that dealing with a call centre operative would be second nature, well, it appears even those things that came so easily, no longer do. There is nothing in this world more likely to wind me up, than someone who treats me as an idiot, or someone who doesn’t listen to me. Today, I was faced by both. I know they have their scripts and I know that they have to go through a set process, but some are just plain thick, and I’m sorry if you work in one of these places, but there is no other word, for some of your compatriots. To make things even worse, our internet supplier has outsourced this job to the Indian subcontinent, which does mean it is hit and miss as to how clear their accent is, and their mastery of our language. The woman I spoke to first today, was wonderful, but when I called back later, I was faced by the complete opposite and that’s where my health comes into all of this.

As I have explained before, telephones cause me huge problems. The fact that I can’t see the person, means my understanding them is hard work and as I become stressed, I begin to stutter and my brain drops more and more words. So there I am, with someone who isn’t giving me time to talk, far less think, and I can’t fully understand when he speaks, plus I’m stuttering and going silent as I desperately try to find my next word. This is not a recipe that is going to go well. Within minutes, my other favourite action to stress appeared, I found tears rolling down my face. At that point, I was pleased we couldn’t see each other, but as we all know, once our tears are flowing, our noses block and we start to sniff and snuffle. Now let’s get technical about PC’s, routers and the internet, shall we. Well, that was what I wanted to do, but the idiot on the other end of the phone, wouldn’t allow me to, as according to him, I didn’t live at my address. Let me just say, that we have lived here for 17 years and used this very company for 8 of them, but I wasn’t giving according to their records, the correct address. Silent or not, I swear the world could hear my screams that were going on inside my head. I kept asking him to slow down, to listen to what I was saying and that I have a disability and he wasn’t giving in any direction. After ten minutes of this, I almost exploded and asked to speak to his manager. He didn’t like that but passed me over eventually. Chalk and cheese. The manager listened, spoke slowly and fixed the issue on their records when it came to my address. I would just like to say the same for the internet, but so far, I can’t.

I know that companies these days set time limits for handling calls, that each operator is driven to be fast, to the point and when it comes to security accurate, but someone, somewhere has to get the message through to these companies, that they have customers who just can’t comply to their rules. That some people need more time, that we can’t always do as they ask and just occasionally, there can be errors in their records as well. I for one, know perfectly well as both an operator from many, many, years ago, from being a line manager and finally an operations manager, not once has anyone trained their staff to handle people with medical conditions, that simply make their scripts impossible. That at times, they have to go off script and work with the customer, and especially to listen to their customers. I also know just how easy it would be, for these huge companies, to have a small number of staff who are actually trained, in how to engage with customers with speech and memory issues. Especially when they claim to be a communications company. I for one would have absolutely no issues, with making a declaration that states that I need to speak to someone trained in this way. Once that declaration was made, then we could be supplied with a number to dial, that would take me to one of these trained few. With the growing number of elderly people, who as we know in time develop exactly the sort of issues as many with chronic conditions have, the need for this sort of service is forever growing.

I am very aware that here in the UK, a large numbers of companies now have staff who are trained as, “Dementia friendly”. Their shops and branches where this training has taken place, have a sticker on their doors. In a world where increasingly our only point of contact is by phone, this service needs to be expanded and apply to call centers as well.


Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 21/04/2014 – The day it happened

It may be Monday but I am not alone, Adam has taken a weeks holiday, well to say taken it he was more pushed, as he still had holiday’s that he had to use. I don’t remember him ever having to be pushed to take time off when he was working for BT, he couldn’t get out of their doors quick enough as far as I remember. I suppose how we react to work has a huge mix of reasons behind it, but I have watched Adams view of it change over the past 15 years, unlike me, he wasn’t forced to work as a child, although I do believe he did have a paper round at some point, but when we met he was like many of his age, unemployed and happily living off the bank of Mum. When we got engaged I told him straight away that the wedding wouldn’t happen until he was fully employed and apart from a couple of weeks here and there, he hasn’t been unemployed since. I am sure our attitude to work changes as we mature and there is a point somewhere along the line were we stop even thinking about having…..