“Is your last name Italian?” says the amiable tech support guy, whose youthful intonation leads me to believe he might be still be in high school.
Look, kid, I’m thinking to myself, I have been on the phone with umpteen of your colleagues today trying to solve this Internet problem. I don’t at the moment care to engage in idle chit chat.
“Yes,” I say.
“That’s really cool,” he says, with infectious enthusiasm. “I thought it looked Italian, but I can’t tell why.”
“A lot of vowels,” I volunteer, half sardonically.
“Oh, wow!” he says, as though he has just discovered a solution to global warming.
“How much longer?” I inquire, in my best baritone radio voice to indicate, not so subtly, that I am still irritated.
He explains that he needs to text me a file for me to approve and we’ll be up and running in no time.
I wait, with as much patience as I can muster at this point. But he will not allow the wait go in silence.
“So, have you been to Italy?” he asked.
I can’t believe I’m having this conversation. But before I can even muster an answer, he is rambling.
“I’ve been watching all these documentaries,” he says. “It looks so cool. I’m saving up. It’s on my bucket list. I live in Portland. It looks like the weather is really different there. I was thinking of Venice but maybe Rome?”
A lot of thoughts are going through my head. Is this a new training technique for tech support people? Is this really a kid who wants to go to Italy or a trained actor of some sort? Is he really in Portland or is he in Bangalore?
The text file comes through and I click the approvals.
“I see it on my end and you’re good to go!” he says.
“OK,” I respond. “And good luck with your trip to Italy. I highly recommend going. It’s a beautiful place.”
“Oh, hey, thanks a lot!” he says, as though as he has made a new best friend for life.
And we disconnect.
I shake my head, wondering if that conversation really just happened. Maybe the kid is high-fiving his colleagues, having pulled it off again: turning a disgruntled customer into a satisfied one with an Oscar-worthy performance.
On the other hand, if I get a postcard of the Basilica di San Marco one of these days, I will not be surprised.