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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Invisible me

I know. After a certain age, us older folk become invisible. Or at least I did, once I started being called Aunty. The eyes of staff in stores, restaurants and showrooms would kind of pass over me to a younger, more hip-looking person behind me. The barista would rather talk to and serve an attractive twenty something even though I was before her in line. It was almost laughable how no one bothered to pinch my bottom anymore in Italy.

At a recent wedding I attended at a hotel, I was having lunch with the wedding party in one of the main restaurants. As lunch was buffet-style, we all had to help ourselves to the food. Twenty-year old Sarah came back to our table, wailing, “Help! All the footballers are staring at me.” It turned out that the visiting Vietnamese football team was also having their lunch there. After I got myself some food, I came back and said, “Sarah, none of the footballers looked at me.” That’s right. We’ve become invisible.

I get it, I really do. I may not have hit my dotage, but I’m regarded as the older generation, less attractive for sure, not so into what’s new and trendy, and hardly keeping up with the times. What really galls, however, is just because I need glasses to read the bill, or didn’t quite catch what others are saying, that people tend to assume I am an idiot, slow on the uptake.

Let me give you an example. I go to the counter of a mobile phone service provider and have a question or complaint about my phone. On occasion, I see an eye roll from the attending staff, followed by a louder than necessary and barely concealed disdainful explanation of what I need to do. My friends have also encountered this kind of reception.

Is this just a bad attitude on the part of the younger generation who have no patience with their elders? Does it reflect on inadequate training or just a general insensitivity? Just because I’m older, does that mean I don’t have a functioning brain?

That’s why I’m always pleasantly surprised by the call centre staff of Telekom Malaysia, particularly those in technical division of Unifi. When I call up, it’s usually because of a problem with my internet connection. In the language of my choice, they patiently take me through the trouble-shooting process, often waiting on the line for ages while I fumble around with cables, knobs and switches, answering my clueless questions and providing solutions. I don’t know what kind of background these people have, but it obviously demonstrates that the training given to them is of a higher calibre than most other telcos. So kudos to TM, keep up the good work!

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