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Unfiltered Story #150953

, , | Unfiltered | May 14, 2019

(I’m a part-time receptionist at a very popular historical archives. All of the full-time employees are trained as reference archivists, and take a shift sitting at the reference desk to answer questions and fetch materials for researchers. This week, there is a conference for activist organizations and we’re all extremely busy, because although another department is technically in charge of the conference, several of my coworkers were involved in the planning. On the first day, the activists take a tour on the archives, and on the second day they have an optional two-hour block built in their schedule in case they want to come study materials relevant to their causes. About an hour into this block, I get a call from one of the women in charge of the conference.)
Caller: Can I speak to [Coworker 1], please?
Me: I’m sorry, she’s not in right now. Can I take a message?
Caller: I need to talk to the archivist who is working with the activists. It’s supposed to be Coworker 1.
Me: Her shift on the reference desk was earlier today. [Coworker 2] is helping them now; I can transfer you to her.
Caller: Why isn’t Coworker 1 there? She’s supposed to be with them. Who else is there besides Coworker 2?
Me: No one, but I’m sure she can help you with whatever you need.
Caller: There should be multiple people helping them! Coworker 1 should be there!
Me: There’s only about ten or fifteen people here, and many of them are studying the same collections they looked at yesterday, so Coworker 2 can manage by herself. I’m sorry, but no one else is available right now.
Caller: They were supposed to be there!
(We go back and forth for almost five minutes as she insists that she can only talk to someone who was directly involved with planning the conference.)
Caller: Oh wait… Coworker 1 just walked into the room. She came to join the conference. I guess I’ll talk to Coworker 2, then.
(Relieved, I try to transfer the call, but I realize that, while we were talking, the archivist left in order to get materials for one of the researchers.)
Me: I’m so sorry… Coworker 2 has stepped away from the desk. Would you mind being put on hold, or can I take a message?
Caller: Can you just tell the activists who are there that they’re missing the ice cream social? It started fifteen minutes ago and they’re late.
(I was completely speechless for about fifteen full seconds. I managed to say “sure,” hung up, and went on my break.)

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