A glimpse of my alter ego, "work rachel"
As the receptionist at a pretty big energy company, I get a lot of calls. Most of the time I have exchanges with normal, rational human beings who generally fit into 3 main groups.
Business types: know exactly who they want to talk to, and they don’t waste time. These ones are usually courteous, but not friendly. they’ll often wait to be transferred without saying thank you and will treat me like I’m mentally disabled if I ask them to spell someone’s last name.
Sales: They give the impression of false friendliness. Sales calers open up with “Hi there, I’m so-and-so from some supply company, and how are you today?” and usually want to talk to the person with “the most authority in purchasing” whatever product their company sells.
Land Owners: These are normal people who own royalties or interests, and these are my favorite ones because they’re almost always friendly with me. I can tell they don’t fit in the first two groups right off the bat because they’ll 1) speak with a thick drawl, 2) mumble a little, 3) be really polite. These guys will tell me their life story if I let them.
Then, I get the exceptions to the 3 groups. Some nutcase will call up 25 times in 5 minutes asking to be transferred to the same person over and over again, that kind of thing. Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a guy whose caller ID came up from a TINY town in North Dakota. He had bad signal, or something, because he was breaking up a lot, and practically yelling.
Me: Good afternoon, [the company I work for].
Mr. ND: Yeah, uh, where you at?
Me: brief pause… (do I know this guy?)
Mr. ND: uhh, Denver?
Me: Yes sir, this is the Denver office. How can I help you?
Mr. ND: UH, I wanna talk to Richard SomethingSomething. (it definitely started with A and ended in SON, and probably had a CH, and 3 syllables, but I couldn’t understand him, so I looked up all the “Richards” in our company. Nothing even remotely close.)
Me: I’m sorry sir, I don’t have his name in my database. Could you-
Mr. ND: He’s a CONTRACTOR.
Me: Oh, Ok. I only have numbers for permanent employees. Do you happen to know who he’s working under?
Mr. ND: I wanna talk to Richard (Archenson? Alendachson? Alfunderchson?). I’m gonna sue you guys because a’ him.
Me: Sir, I’d like to put you through to him, but I’ll need some more information first.
MR. ND: Look, I don’t wanna talk to ‘im! He’s a terrorist.
Stephen (his comment when I told him the story): Sir, perhaps you should call homeland security.
Me: (GAH! You just asked to talk to richard a?ch?son whatever) Well who do you need to talk to in order to resolve the issue?
Mr. ND: I wanna talk to the “big cheese” (spoken with an air of disdain).
Me: I can put you through to our president’s assistant.
Stephen: Dick Cheney?
Me: One moment, please.
MR. ND: Fine.
I went to transfer him, but it went right to her voice mail, and I don’t want this guy calling back with a threat on my life, so I was going to put him through to someone else, but he hung up. (bummer. I was really enjoying our conversation.) He was only on hold 15, maybe 20 seconds. Anyway, North Dakota didn’t call back. Maybe bitching at me made him feel better, gave him some sense of satisfaction. The truth is, this guy wasn’t actually that bad (just bizarre), but as the receptionist, I AM the company. I’m not viewed as a person; I’m a corporation, so it’s ok to call me and yell at me and curse at me because someone in accounts payable is on vacation and isn’t answering their phone.
Please, readers, don’t be jerks. Treat receptionists with respect. Not all of them deserve it, but they all deserve the benefit of the doubt, and none of them deserve to be treated like crap.