JournalismPakistan.com November 2, 2013
They came from London to this terrific job in the Gulf and the first day he went to work and his wife called his office and was told by the operator that he wasn't in his cabin.
"Not in his cabin," she said. "Not in his cabin, but that's terrible."
Anguished by the response she called a friend and said, "Bob has been given a Portocabin, can you believe it; they said to him in the interview he would have a proper office, now they have put him in a makeshift."
The friend laughed and explained that 'cabin' meant office in local telespeak.
Actually telespeak can be quite confusing for those who are not initiated in it.
Like a friend of ours who also called her husband and was told he could not be disturbed.
"Why ever not," she said, " Is he taking a nap?"
"He is in a meeting."
"Then why would he be disturbed, is there a problem, besides which, I am his wife, I do not disturb him."
In telespeak, disturb and interrupt mean the same thing.
Another favourite is: "He has left."
I am so sorry to hear that, I talked to him only a week ago, what happened, a run in with the boss, perhaps.
"Left," can mean left for lunch, left for the day, left the company, left the country, take your pick.
About nine of every ten operators and secretaries will respond: "Sorry, he is not in his seat?"
Well, where is he then, under the table, hiding in the water closet, behind the couch?
An option on this one is a more dramatic: "He's gone."
You almost feel like sending a condolence message and as you begin to commiserate you realize he has only gone out of the office.
A very common telespeak torture is from the office operator who moves you directly from the ringing to music.
Now, you wait while listening to the plink, plink, plunk. Finally, you get this hello and you have to ask if this is The Tip Top Trading Company.
Well, can I speak to the MD.
(Hold what, lady.)
Back comes the music, followed by a second voice saying, Hello?
Is that the MD's office?
Can I speak to him?
Out of what…sorts, money, patience or just the office!!!!!
Okay, I'll call later, thanks.
You are welcome.
The last sentiment beats everything, seeing the runaround you got.
I had this experience the other day when I called an office to speak to the GM.
"Can you put me through to the boss."
"I beg your pardon."
"I cannot, he has gone."
"Oh, I am sorry, hope he has got a better job."
"The one he has gone to, imagine it is a better deal."
"I didn't know the boss had another job, where is he going?"
"You tell me, you're the one who said he's gone."
Fraught with danger, this sort of stuff.
But nothing to beat the operator who said, honest, she did: "I am sorry you cannot speak to him, he passed away from the office 20 minutes ago, do you want his mobile number?"
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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