Earlier today a customer fired a policy number at me without giving me chance to make a note of it. I asked her to repeat it a bit slower. She did the same thing. I explained that she had a strong accent and I again asked her to repeat it a bit slower. A simple request I thought. The customer then had a go at me.

‘What do you mean by strong accent?’ She spat. ‘What are you saying? This is discrimination!’

‘You have a strong accent,’ I explained, ‘and you are speaking quite quickly. I am not able to catch what you are saying.’

‘What do you mean strong accent? What are you trying to say? Are you critisising where I come from?’ She asked, along with saying something else that again I couldn’t make out.

‘No.’ I answered. ‘I don’t care where you come from, or where your accent is from. I didn’t catch the number you gave me, and I am trying to explain why. I am saying that you have a strong accent and could you repeat the number a bit slower please as I was not able to get it?’

Maybe I am being a bit naive here. I thought this was a reasonable request and reasonable explanation. This customer, howerever, kicked off about discrimination.

I don’t give a damn where someone is from, but if they speak sofastthatIcan’thearorunderstandwhattheyaresaying, then I am going to ask them to repeat it slower. Why should someone see this as discrimination? If I don’t understand what is being said I am going to ask for it to be repeated. If I had said ‘can you repeat it without an accent’, that would have been prejudice.

I began to wonder if this particular person had a problem with something else. Was she hiding something? What was her real problem?

With some of the things that have happened in the country in the last few weeks, I’m beginning to wonder if there is a hidden agenda going on here. Maybe it’s time that British people started screaming discrimination/prejudice at the slightest thing. Maybe then we’d get things done the way we want them done and not how other people want them done.

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