I don’t get many phone calls here, so a few days ago when the phone rang and a male voice with an accent said something I didn’t understand about ‘technical support’ and ‘your computer’ I kept listening a moment. But other than those two phrases I couldn’t cypher out a word he was saying.
“Excuse me. I can’t understand what you’re saying. What do you want?”
Another long string of words including the two phrases, unintelligible. My hearing isn’t all that it might be. I can’t understand what store clerks or waiters are saying half the time when I’m in town, so I nod yes, or no, as the mood strikes me and take my chances.
But this guy had something to say that might be important, and he called to say it. Seemed prudent to me to focus my iron will and patience on the job of knowing what it was. I tried several possibilities.
After I’d interrupted him three or four times asking him to speak more clearly, more slowly, though, he said, “Never mind.” Spang broke the connection.
I’m reasonably certain the man was in India. I shot a couple of phrase of Gujarati at him I remembered from Peace Corps training and he shot some back at me I couldn’t understand any better than I understood his English.
Remembering it, I recalled a story I read a while back online:
A PACKED commuter train sped hundreds of kilometres across India in the wrong direction before passengers finally realised it was pulling into an unfamiliar station.
The train left the southern town of Tirupati on Wednesday for the eastern city of Bhubaneswar, where it was due to swing north to its eventual destination of Varanasi, a city in northeastern India, The Times of India reported today.
But bewildered passengers noticed something was amiss yesterday when it chugged into Warangal – a central Indian city on an entirely different route some 980km west of its intended stop at Bhubaneswar.
The express train had managed to cross three of India’s railway divisions and travel hundreds of miles without anyone noticing it had lost its way, The Times reported.
The mistake was believed to have arisen because it was given an incorrect destination code, compounded by the fact it was a special service and many of the staff were unfamiliar with the route.
By hindsight, I don’t know whether the guy thought he was talking to someone in the US, Australia, or the UK. I can’t for the life of me form an opinion about whether he knew something about my computer it was important I know, or wanted to tell some train pilot in New Zealand he was going backwards and another one was coming at him 90 miles an hour the other way.
This brave new world’s getting a bit complex for a 20th Century man.
Today on Ask Old Jules: Old Jules, what scripture do you use most in helping you fight your demons?