Unfiltered Story #57206

The Netherlands | Unfiltered | June 18, 2017

I fill in for the receptionist, who has fallen ill. I usually work on a different floor, so I don’t know everything. I’m also terrible with names and faces, which I have no trouble admitting. There work about 500+ people in this company.

Visitor: Hi, I have a meeting at 1 o’clock. *it’s now 12:50 in the afternoon*

Me: All right, who do you have the meeting with?

Visitor: I don’t know.

Me: …Okay, but I don’t know either. You really don’t have a name?

Visitor: *with a big smile* No! We talked on the phone and I couldn’t hear his name.

Me: Well, if you don’t know the name I can’t really call for you. Don’t you have an e-mail from him or so?

Visitor *now giggling* No. But he works at [floor with about 200 employees!]. I have an internship-interview.

Me: …All right. That narrows it down to 200 people and you said it was a ‘he’… I can try the secretaries, in case they know anything? *I call them, but no one answers.* I’m really sorry, I can’t reach anyone, and I can’t really send an e-mail to everyone in this company asking if one of them has a meeting with you. That won’t really make a good impression for you.

Visitor: Oh, but I can wait and see if he picks me up.

Me: People usually pick someone up when they know they are here. That’s why we call them.

Visitor: Oh, then I will call him around 1 or so.

*I look at my clock, it’s 4 minutes to 1 now*

Me: Well… since it is practially 1 o’clock, you could try calling him now?

Visitor: Oh, all right!

*She calls and connects easily. She hangs up*

Me: Well, who was it?

Visitor: …. I don’t know, I couldn’t hear his name. But he’ll come pick me up and then you can see it for yourself!

Me: Ah, but I don’t know all 500 employees by face, unfortunately…

Visitor: What, you don’t work here 5 days a week?!

Me: No, I filled in and I usually work on a different floor. But even if I did work here 5 days a week, I still couldn’t remember everyone. It about 500 employees, and soon 500 + 1.

Visitor: Oh, we’ll have to wait and see if I get the internship!

My collegue came picking her up and as expected, I didn’t know the name. However, I picked up the first name and looked through our online list and saw a picture that resembled. Now I remember, I do know that man! I carefully inquired with the man how the talk went and since it’s an obligated internship, we’ll probably see more of her soon…. I just wished I rememberd her face…

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  • Matt Westwood

    If you don’t get the name when someone says it, I recommend the technique: “Just so I’m completely clear, can you spell that for me, please?” People appreciate being asked how to reproduce their name accurately.

  • Amy Susan Fisher

    Working at a hospital 25 years ago, as a medical transcriber, I was part of the clerical team, along with the receptionists and file room clerks. The clerical supervisor got it into her head to cross-train us in the different clerical areas. It was a disaster. I was put at the reception desk without any training and no idea what to do. I had to put all calls on hold until the real receptionist came back from lunch. They tried to train another receptionist as a transcriber, but it’s such a specialized job that she failed at it because her command of English just wasn’t good enough, and she refused to learn any medical terminology because it was “too hard”. The file clerks didn’t do very well outside the file room, either. We finally told the supervisor that cross-training us was a bad idea, and she evaluated the results and agreed with us. Whew.

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