Day 51: Telephones

I have to admit - I have not been in a mood to write all that much today. Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel blah - find it difficult to be motivated. Well, it's been like that just about all week for me. I'm really trying to figure out how to change my attitude, because this is not a great place to be. Sure, I'm getting my work done - but I'm spending 20%of my time figuring out how to stay motivated.

It's okay - everyone has days like this. I keep trying to tell myself that it's perfectly fine to feel this way. Again - I'm in a foreign country, away from familiar people/places/things, and I'm readjusting. Some sense of imbalance is in order. I'm hoping this weekend will help me with that. Also, having a good night sleep would also probably help as well - I've been woken up just about every night this week thus far by someone in the US at work. Nothing major - but an interruption in the sleep cycle kinda bites.

One of the challenges that I'm having with my team is that of interacting with Americans via the phone. What typically happens in the US in a phone handshake (similar to TCP/IP - geeky, I know), is the caller rings up a line, the person on the other line picks up the phone, says hello or something like that, the caller then returns a response with an introduction or other small talk (e.g.: hi, this is James from Asurion - how are you today?), a brief reply again by the receiver of the call, and then right to business - I'm calling because of XXXXXX.

For some reason, the same concept is lost here. Anytime that I have a phone call with someone in the Philippines - let's say that I'm receiving a phone call - there is at least 4 or 5 random "hellos" on the call. Let me demonstrate.

  1. Phone Rings
  2. I pick up phone. "Hello?"
  3. Caller: "Hello?"
  4. Me: "Hi"
  5. Caller: "Hello?"
  6. Me: (Slightly confused): "Hello"
  7. Caller: "Hello?"
  8. Me: (Irritated): "Hello??"
  9. Caller: "Hello" (awkward pause) - "I'm trying to reach XXXXXXX"
  10. Me: "This is he, what can I do for you"
  11. Caller: "Hello?"

It takes about 30 - 45 seconds to get a conversation going. What's the problem here? I'll have to dig into this and understand the handshake for typical phone conversations - but it is painful to be on a phone call like this. I can only imagine how the folks in the US feel when getting called by the NOC team. We've done some coaching on this point, so it's better - but instead of saying "This is how to do it" - it would be nice to understand what the Philippine handshake is and the differences.

In other news - I had Gas delivered to my apartment! Gas! I have a stove that is partial gas (3 of 4 stove elements). However, in the Philippines - natural gas delivery as a utility is not a common practice. What is common practice is to have a giant LPG tank in your house hooked up to the various appliances that require it, and to have it periodically replaced as necessary. Essentially, my stove is hooked up like a giant Gas Grill. In my apartment.

That's all I have today.