Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wacky Telephone Treats


One of the best things about secretarial work is answering the telephone. This is odd, since I hate to talk on the phone in my personal life. In fact, I go to extraordinary lengths to avoid calling people, and usually wear my friends down with text messages instead. I'm a total guy - I'll call to find out when and where to meet, but chitchat drives me nuts.


But at work, it's fun. It's like busting open a wacky telephonic piƱata to see what sort of treats fall out. Usually, it’s people who want me to buy stuff, or they want me to put my boss on the line so he can buy stuff.

Even better are the people who mangle my name. Come on, people, “Shannon” is downright pedestrian (especially when you consider I was raised by hippies who could have named me Moonbeam Rainbow). However, I usually get addressed as Sharon, Janet, or, just a few moments ago, Hannah.

Even better than the name-manglers? Con artists. When I first began receptioneering, the typical con call was to ask the make and model of my printer, followed by an effort to sell me toner re-inkers or swampland in Florida.

Scams have gotten better over the years. Best of all are the people who wish to “verify a listing.”

I spent a week doing battle with the "American Yellow Pages." As an American and frequent user of phones, I can verify that this company does not, strictly speaking, exist. However, this did not stop a very strange woman from calling me repeatedly, asking to “verify my listing.” I patiently did so, despite her very irritating habit of screaming into the phone (I am a bit hard of hearing, and I still had to hold the receiver about a foot from my ear). Then she asked for my credit card information. Yeah, sure, and after that I’ll wake up in a bathtub full of ice, one kidney poorer. I refused, she persisted, I hung up.

Moments later, she had her “supervisor” call and ask to speak to my supervisor regarding my poor manners. I suppose this was a great intimidation tactic, except that my “supervisor” was just me, with a very bad phony French accent. "Bonjour, Yeeellow Pages Americain!" French Me “fired” the Zee Real Me forthwith. It was the most fun I've had at work while sober.

So, in case you were wondering exactly what your secretary does all day, the answer is: talk to really annoying people so you don’t have to. Yeah, you’re welcome.

12 comments:

Lemmonex said...

The mangling of the name thing never ceases to amaze me. "Lemmonex" is actually fairly common butchering of my last name, which is a joke among my friends. It is so off base, it is comical. What is even more stunning, is there is a fairly famous athlete that shares the same last name as me. Bizarre.

Susan said...

Even better is when people call me and try to get me to come and talk to them about some great job (i.e. headhunters). They can be very flattering and entertaining people, and a great way to waste 15 minutes of your day.

Dana said...

I'm the same way about phones, except that years doing telephone customer service and working on the assignment desk ruined any remaining desire to talk on one, even at work.

If you ever want to have a really good time (and make crappy money) get a job working at the assignment desk of a TV station. There are endless posts to be written about the folks who call there to get info they can't be bothered to look up online (phone numbers, scores for the Masters when you work for an ABC station, etc.) and folks who think we should send a crew to their home forthwith to do a story about the family member that stole their kids or the government agency who refuses to give them benefits. In Raleigh, we had a woman who would call and want us to send a car over to pick her up at the hospital because the police wouldn't do it. And that's not even touching the people who count the stories we do about Bush and the stories we do about Obama and then call to tell us how clearly biased we are. Tons of fun and very amusing when you aren't doing it every day.

Shannon said...

Lemmonex, I don't know how anyone can mispronounce "Armstrong." Really. :)

Susan, should I be worried that headhunters no longer stalk me? Actually, it's nice to have my phone ring a bit less often.

Dana, come ON...you're leaving out your most awesome phone-centric job, ever! Please please please tell...

Mike said...

I think my favorite con is where the caller says they're sorry they weren't able to make our meeting last week (when there was no meeting scheduled,) but they'll be in the area tomorrow so can they reschedule for then? I often wonder who decided that lying was a good way to get someone's business.

Shannon said...

Mike, that's a good one. Usually sales reps just hang up when I answer the phone. It's pretty annoying.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

I didn't think secretary was the appropriate term to use now - Executive Assistant, Executive Adminstrative Assistant -- etc.......

I don't have one - I do all my own crap - I don't like to bother out admin people at all because if I can do it myself, I am going to do it myself - they love me :-)

Shannon said...

My title is Admin Asst, but I actually sort of like being called a secretary. It's retro.

FreckledK said...

Can I just check the model number on your copier?

Shannon said...

FreckledK, only if you can take a moment to verify your listing!

Ibid said...

When they ask for the make and model of your copier/printer act like you're about to go get it and then say "what company did you say you're with, again?" They always hang up on my when I do that.

They called me at home once. "I don't have a printer."

Shannon said...

Ibid, I usually just spout random numbers and see if there's an appropriate toner for it.