Sometimes finding information isn’t easy because we’re asking for it in the wrong way or the wrong place.
My friend had a question about whether our favourite local sushi bar freezes their fish before serving it since freezing lowers risk of getting infected with worms. Ewww!
So I looked up the phone number, called them up and asked to speak to a manager. Now, this restaurant isn’t known for its eloquent or articulate staff, and it quite showed in my conversation with the woman who answered the phone. First she wasn’t sure how to answer my request for a manager – went away then came back saying he’s not here. Fine, so I asked her my question. I had to repeat it a few times (and rephrase it) because she couldn’t understand me. She went away for a few minutes; I could hear her talking to a man in the background (not in English). They had quite a conversation then she came back, said manager wasn’t here and she didn’t know the answer. I couldn’t help but laugh during some of this because it was really absurd the difficulty of getting a simple yes or no – I mean the chef should know! (there was a bit more to the exchange but that was the gist of it)
Perhaps they were afraid I was doing some sort of exposé on sushi. I mean, I have a friend in Public Health here so I suppose I could ask her for her ‘personal opinion’ on the place (she can’t actually give out specifics on places). Anyway, the lady on the phone did say maybe I should try another number – by which she meant the one to the other location.
I called the second location immediately, and my call was answered by a man who was more fluent in English. I asked him my question and he answered me right away – no hesitation, and of course my follow-up question had him say it again and that was it. Maybe he was blowing me off, but whatever, at least I got an answer. So I spent a few seconds with him to get a response, and several minutes with the woman with no response. (Certainly happens that way with database searching too, doesn’t it?)
I have absolutely no problem with anyone who has an accent – it makes no difference to me since I know with patience I can understand anyone’s accent, but the problem is with the speaker’s own comprehension and skill – if she can’t take a phone call, why is it her responsibility? I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on the gal, she probably could’ve taken a reservation just fine (though I’ve had problems with that before too).
It’s just like libraries; I guess that’s why we have subject specialists so that when patrons talk to us in the ‘foreign languages’ of business or nursing or law, there’s someone there to help interpret the question and get to the right source. Unfortunately subject specialists aren’t available all the time so all staff have to learn a little about everything just to get by.