Want a long distance connection? Make one! Strike up a conversation with tech support and customer service reps.
Now days most tech and customer support jobs are remote. Everyone is from somewhere else. Why not take a minute and learn a bit about a fellow citizen and their hometown. I sprinkle in the asking while I’m learning why my Macbook Pro won’t share pictures with my phone (not very polite those machines), or my Visa bill has an unexplained service charge.
By asking fellow humans about their whereabouts, I’ve learned about swamp animals in Florida, the nice weather and scenery in Taos, New Mexico. I already knew about Taos, but it was fun to remember it for a minute while the man was describing his town. Also how hot it’s becoming in Phoenix, Arizona. Sometimes on a Friday, I venture away from weather questions and ask about weekend plans.
And I don’t only talk to people in the U.S. I’ve struck it rich in conversations with people from the Philippines, Central America, some of the islands. Once while straightening out a false charge on a credit card bill, the customer service rep’s government had recently elected a new president. I’d just read or heard about the new official. So I seized the chance to ask the Visa rep what he thought of the new president.
Here’s how I start a conversation:
“May I have your first name please,” the customer service person says.
The rep asks how she can help. He begins to provide assistance. Then during a lull moment, and there always is — I’m restarting my computer, or they’re checking identifying information — I grab it and say, “Can I ask you a question?”
And no one’s ever said, “No.”
Then I say, “Do you mind my asking what state or country I’m calling?”
And they tell me. Next I ask my other questions, “How are things there?” If I heard of a storm in their area, I inquire, “Has your city been affected?” If I know of a tradition or famous animal in that state, I ask about that. Some day, if the moment arises, I might ask about job safety or climate changes or political leanings.
My best story involved an alligator encounter. I was talking to technical support from Costco. We’d been on the phone for at least 30 minutes. It seemed we were nearly starting a friendship. After learning she lives in Florida, I asked her if she ever sees alligators. She does. Once on her way to the trashcan, one surprised her, and she had to fend it one off with an umbrella.
“How’d you do that?” I asked.
“I pushed at him with the point.”
Was she fibbing me? Maybe, but I didn’t mind.
I know we are told not to, but I talk to strangers. Any chance I get, I start a conversation. And I learn a bit more about people inside and outside my country, and where they live and sometimes even a bit about their lives. And then two more humans that day share a moment and connect across a phone line.
Strike up any interesting long distance cross-state or international conversations lately? Try it sometime and report back here!