by Ross Sharp

The Company has a Vision.

A Global Vision.

One World. One Way. One Company.


To this end, over the last couple years, the Company has been engaged in a series of “restructures”, to streamline processes and procedures and systems – addressing “cost efficiencies”, they call them – so that the Company may better serve its key “clients” and “shareholders”, etcetera and so on and so forth.

You know the drill.

A decision was recently made, for example, to outsource and centralise the Company’s network and desktop support services.

To India.

New Delhi, to be precise.

Where, once upon a time, some odd error message popped up on my screen, or I could not access a particular application or whatnot, I would wander across the hall to the office that held our local support people and I would say, “Hey James, do you know why X is happening when I try to do Y?”, and James (for that was his name) would say, “Give me a minute and I’ll come over to have a look”.

And then he would come over to “have a look” and, ten or fifteen minutes later, he would say, “Okay, that’s fixed”, and it would be, and I would say, “Thanks James, you’re a star” (for he was), and I would then carry on with my work.

Last week, as I was trying to do Y and X kept happening, I emailed details of this problem, complete with screenshots, to our new “support” people. Our “support” people in India. Or New Delhi, to be precise.

A couple hours later, my phone rang …

“Ross Sharp”, I answer.

“Ros? It (indecipherable) from (indecipherable) which (indecipherable) (indecipherable)” comes a faint and faraway sounding voice.

“What?”, I say. “Um … what?

“You have (indecipherable) issue (indecipherable) (indecipherable) java (indecipherable) logon please?”

“Um? What do you want?”, I ask.

The reply is the same. Indecipherable. However, I glean from the words “java” and “logon” that perhaps I am dealing with our new “helpdesk” people.

In India.

New Delhi, to be precise.

Yes. Yes I am.

“Can you (indecipherable) (indecipherable) (indecipherable) sign in (indecipherable) Lync?”, I am asked.

“What?”, I ask.

Their reply is the same, and I am becoming irritated with myself for being unable to understand what the blazes they are saying. However, I latch onto the words “sign in” and “Lync”, and realise they are asking me to activate our instant messaging software so that they may remotely view and take control of my desktop.

Clever me.

I do this.

They take control of my desktop.

For the next ten minutes, there is silence on the phone, and I watch as they move a cursor around the screen, doing nothing with it, just moving it around. I have a few browser windows open, one for Facebook and another for The Guardian Australia. They click on them, one at a time, and nothing further happens for a few minutes.

I ask “What are you trying to do?”. There is silence. The cursor moves around the desktop.

“Tell me what you’re trying to do, and I’ll do it”, I offer. There is silence. The cursor continues to roam.

“How much longer will you be?”, I ask.

“We (indecipherable) (indecipherable) minute.”

I have been on this call for twenty minutes now.

The cursor moves. It does nothing else. It just moves, hither and thither. It is a wildebeest, a pointy, pixelated wildebeest, migrating from one corner of the screen to the next. This is all gnu to me.*

I have been on this call for twenty-seven minutes now. I am becoming agitated and irritable.

“What are you trying to do?”, I ask once more, exasperated.

“Just (indecipherable) (indecipherable) (indecipherable) (indecipherable) more.”

“I have to leave”, I say. “I have to leave soon.”

The moving cursor moves.

“No, no”, I say at last. “I have to leave. I have to leave now. Now”.

“Oh, we (indecipherable)”.

“I am leaving now, do you understand? Now”.

I take back control of my desktop, disconnect the messaging application, and hang up the phone.

The call lasted thirty-four minutes.

Nothing happened.


Not quite.