a call to tech support 

In the early 2000s, Mike and I were working on a critical problem with a Sybase database. The problem was critical enough that we were calling Sybase tech support at 3:00 in the morning. Since it was so early and since Sybase was an international company, we were working with someone from Sybase’s British office.

When the tech support guy, let’s say Jerry, put me on hold I said to Mike “Jerry’s accent sounds familiar.”

Mike said “He sounds English. You sound English. That sounds familiar.” Mike thought that all English accents sounded the same. But in this case, he was right.

I said “No. He sounds like my relatives.”

At the end of the call, I asked Jerry “If you don’t mind, can I ask you about your accent?”

Jerry said “I’m English.”

Well, duh. Jerry sounded a bit defensive. If he was where I was from, then he knew that our accents weren’t highly regarded by the rest of the Brits. In fact, our accents were often mocked.

I tried another tack. “You sound like my relatives. I’m from Durham.”

“Oh! I’m from Consett.”

“I’ll be darned. My aunt Ann and her family lived there for a while. It’s about 15 miles from my home village of East Rainton.”


I don’t think there’s any special significance to this but it’s the only time I’ve come across someone from my neck of the woods who wasn’t related to me.

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