There is, i realise, something of a rhythm to misgendering. And its mostly nowadays on the phone.
Still, unexpectedly, it has the power to upset, to disturb and in this instance, to reduce me to tears. Why?
The usual script, i find, is a cold call that starts with some oik ringing up and wanting to speak to me or to the householder or to some presumed occupant or to some combination of all three. I identify myself and often, nowadays, we get on with the call: if i’m tired, though or its late, i know my voice pitches down and that leads to a predictable and irritating exchange.
“Jane”, i give them. Then the challenge, in varying degrees of subtlety. Either they need to know how to spell it: puh-lease (but at least they are being sensitive); or they riposte “James?”.
Sometimes one correction is enough: other times, we’ll play the exchange twice, thrice even.
Then, if i’m lucky, there’ll be a muted “sir” inserted at some point in the conversation. That’s an intersting one since often, i’ve noticed, it is so habitual that the speaker doesn’t even notice they’ve done it. Nowadays, i always correct that – moving to an official complaint if they then persist. So far is understandable. Beyond so far is just rude.
Which is where some survey company just went on behalf of my bank,Nat West. A guy phones, explains he is doing a survey, knows enough detail for me to be convinced he is carrying it out on behalf of who he says he is, and starts to inquisit. We play the game, as above, with him trying both “James” and “sir” within about a minute of each other. Still, we’re sorted – or so i think.
First off, he wants me to confirm that i recently visited a particular branch. Then, how long i was queueing for. I suggest 3 or 4 minutes. He goes off, ostensibly to ask advice: i find this amusing. FFS. No-one can remember whether they have queued for three minutes or four, and i say as much. To this point, on my side,things are relatively light-hearted…though i have a sneaking suspicion as to why he had to ask advice.
Then its on to the next question: whether i’m very satisfied or extremely satisfied with something. Still cheerful on my side, he sounds grumpy. Then: “can you confirm you are Miss Jane Fae”. What?
No. He’s clearly had that confirmed already. He can’t, surely, be taking exception to my lightness of tone? And he absolutely should not be using voice cues to question my identity. But apparently he is.
The survey is finished. I terminate it. I speak with the guy’s manager. I complain, ridiculously apologising for causing them hassle: but it shouldn’tjust be left. Somewhere along the way i’ve gone from happy, cheerful, enjoying my morning to pissed off and crying.
Yeah: its over-reaction. Or maybe not. If the company security is not up to tghe job and security is important to them, they should be improving their security – not challenging people personally.
I shall wait and see how my bank responds.