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    Big Brother Is Not Watching You

    | ON, Canada | Extra Stupid, Technology

    (I work in a call centre that handles calls exclusively from American customers. Since we’re located right on the Ontario-Michigan border, we often tell customers that we’re located in Northern Michigan to avoid having to explain how the company manages to serve Americans properly.)

    Me: “Thank you for calling [insurance company], roadside assistance. How can I help you?”

    Customer: “You have a weird accent. Where are you from?”

    Me: “I’m from Northern Michigan, ma’am. How can I help you?”

    Customer: “Oh! That’s where I am! You must be able to see me, then!”

    (I assume she means on our program’s mapping system.)

    Me: “I don’t have your location listed here, ma’am. If you’ll answer a few questions, I can get that information from you in a moment. Is your—”

    Customer: “You mean you can’t see me?”

    Me: “Not yet, ma’am. First I have to get some more information from you and then I can bring up a map of your location.”

    Customer: “No, on the cameras! Can’t you see me on the cameras?”

    Me: *confused* “What cameras, ma’am?”

    Customer: “They’re right there! I’m waving at it! It’s just on top of the traffic light!”

    (I realize she’s talking about the traffic camera that takes photos of vehicles that run red lights. I spend the next 10 minutes trying to explain that. Eventually, she accepts I can’t see her.)

    Customer: *resigned* “Well, I guess if you can’t see me, I’ll just call my husband. He can change my tire…”

    (She hung up before I could explain that we could set up service. About 20 minutes later, I heard my coworker explaining to a customer that traffic cameras are not a country-wide surveillance system. It was the same woman. She hung up on him, too!)