I work in the technical support field.
Having worked as an ambulance dispatcher in the past, I now put things in perspective, and regularly tell myself that no matter what goes wrong with what I do, nobody will die at the end of my call (or else things will have gone AWFULLY wrong).
But less pressure doesn’t mean less irritation. Au contraire!
It is amazing how people can “not listen” while on the phone. I mean, listening is one of the 2 functions of a phone, right? Listening and talking, the two bases of communication… (Don’t bother sending me messages mentioning your intelligent phone functions beyond “listening and talking”… My only phone is stupid to the point that it is grounded at home)
And “not listening” people seem to have some particular difficulties when it comes to colors.
First example… Our terminals are connected to a network (ideally). On the terminal screen, a certain option displays a series of 14 dots, which can be green (preferably), yellow or red.
Vert, Jaune et Rouge!
Personally, I find those 3 colors pretty easy to deal with, and unless you are colorblind, I expect the following question to be easy to answer to;
- Avez-vous des lumières jaunes ou rouges à l’écran? Quel(s) numéro(s)?
- Do you have any yellow or red light on the screen? Which number(s)?
I did mention yellow and red there, right? I have been asking this question regularly, trying to put some emphasis on YELLOW and RED without sounding weird, but it just won’t do… About 75% of people start telling me which dots are green… Not that I don’t like green dots, don’t get me wrong. I have my own, at home, which I like a lot. But it just gets on my nerves a tad to see how not listening the person at the other end of the line is. And we’re not dealing with complicated colors… I mean, if you can’t get around with green, yellow and red, please tell me you don’t own a driver’s licence!!
My second example has to do with more complicated colors, but it makes the “not listening” even more obvious, and intriguing. When retailers have a problem printing a lottery ticket, they have to send us a form by mail. The form is turquoise, and here is the speech I give dozens of times a day;
- Parmis vos papiers de Loto Québec, vous avez un formulaire turquoise, qui s’appelle “régularisation”. Il vous suffit de remplir le formulaire, joindre la copie du billet mal imprimé, et déposer le tout dans l’enveloppe à la fin du formulaire.
- In your Loto Québec papers, you have a turquoise form, called “regularisation”. You just have to fill it up, join the copy of the ticket that didn’t print well, and put it in the envelope joined at the end of the form.
And here’s where the magic happens. Retailers, in their fear of losing money, go treasure hunting in all their closets and desk drawers, looking for the mysterious turquoise form. I pretty much all the times help them by rephrasing, and telling them that the form is “de couleur bleue-verte”… a greenish-blue color, even though I know it is in vain….
- Madame, je suis désolé. Je n’ai aucun formulaire mauve!
- Madam, I’m sorry. I have no purple form!
How is it ever possible to mistake turquoise for purple? Turquoise et mauve… It doesn’t sound alike at all… it doesn’t look alike either… And we are not talking about a nutcase once every blue moon. No, I’d say that around 50% of people end up telling me they don’t have the dang purple form.
It amazes me. I wonder what in people’s brains associates the two colors when confused by the frantic search. There has to be a link, because no one ever tells me, “Sorry I can’t find your yellow form”… or “Where can I find that pink form you are talking about?” Nope, purple is planted in people’s minds when they are looking for turquoise…
Useless thinking and wondering… I know… But that kind of things just get me thinking and wondering. I guess I’m just weird like that!