Outsourcing--it finally makes sense
Most of you know that I used to live in Grand Forks ND. North Dakota has some wonderful senators and a fantastic representative. Yes, there is just one. His name is Earl Pomeroy, and he happens to be my daughter's best friend and former roommate's cousin, which helps if you need something from DC in a hurry. In case you haven't heard, or don't remember, the number of representatives is based on the population of the state. Enough said. I'm not sure, but Rhode Island probably has more representatives than North Dakota does.
One of the senators is Kent Conrad. He holds a special place in my heart. After the Great Flood in 1997 in Grand Forks, Ivan's military medals were lost. I don't know if somebody in Winnipeg ended up with them, but it's possible. I have often said that things are so backwards in North Dakota that even the river flows the wrong direction! Anyway, Sen. Conrad helped me get replacement medals for Ivan for his last Christmas. It meant the world to him.
The other senator is Byron Dorgan. I think he's my favorite of the trio. Why? I don't know. Maybe it is just because when I contacted him (through Mission Socorro, the charitable organization Ivan and I ran in the Red River Valley for over 30 years) to help a person who was having problems with things like Social Security or Medicare, he always came through.
Anyway, a couple of years ago Byron Dorgan became a fellow author. The subject is "Outsourcing." You know what that means: sending our work to foreign countries because it is "cheaper." I happen to agree with Sen. Dorgan very strongly on this issue. We have massive unemployment in our own country, so why should we be paying the wages (even if they are lower) for people halfway around the world?
One of my biggest gripes is when you try to call a technical support person. You dial a toll-free phone number, and then you try your dead level best to make them understand you, and vice versa. I have learned one little trick; if you punch the number they suggest if you speak Spanish, you might end up with a Spanish-speaking person in the US. I have no idea if they are here legally or not, but if you are bi-lingual in Spanish/English, the call usually goes through much faster. But for some reason, if you choose the English option, it seems like the majority of technicians are someplace in India.
I have nothing against the Indian people. In fact, I have a couple of very good friends who are from India--a long time ago. But when I want an answer to why a certain software program won't work the way they tell me it should work, I want somebody that I can understand, and who can figure out what I'm talking about.
Well, today is Memorial Day. I was volunteering at the Amberg (WI) Historical Society's Museum complex as a tour guide from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Shortly after noon two cars pulled up in front of the museum and a group of foreign-looking young people got out and made their way into the main museum building. They took their time in there, and then they came to the old town hall building where I was giving the tours. The first young man came in, and I asked him where they were from. That is a common question, as the museum gets visitors from all over the country. He replied, "I live in Chicago, but I'm originally from India." Yes! It was that same accent I had heard on all of those technical calls! I asked him what he did in Chicago, and he replied, "I am a software technician--you know, a troubleshooter."
I couldn't help it. I just had to ask. "You mean when I call that toll free number because I can't figure out your software and I get some guy that, when I ask him where he is from, answers 'India,' and it is really you--sitting at a desk in Chicago?"
The poor fellow. I thought he was never going to quit laughing. But at least I felt a whole lot better, knowing that at least some of those calls are going to people right here in the good old U.S.A.!