Does Your Pen Say “ACME” On The Side?

, , , , , | Working | March 19, 2019

(I work for a nonprofit agency that runs professional licensing examinations. We still use paper applications, and among our rules is that the applications are signed or we will reject them. Although the instructions state they have to be in black or blue ink only, we are willing to accept any color ink, or pencil, or even crayon, as long as they are signed. One Friday afternoon, a young lady calls. I’ve had a long week but am feeling silly and mischievous when I pick up the phone.)

Caller: *speaking timidly* “What happens if you sign the application in red ink?”

Me: *falling victim to a wicked urge* “The application explodes.”

Caller: “Uh… uh… It blows up? Really?”

Me: “Try it and see!”

(She was dead silent for a few moments, and just as I started thinking that I went too far and started to apologize, she exploded in shrieks of laughter. Once she regained her composure, I apologized, as I really shouldn’t have done that, but she dismissed it, and thanked me as she had been stressing out over little things and needed a good laugh. She asked my name and extension so she could reach me again if needed, and she did call back a few times, always with intelligent questions and always sounding glad to hear my voice. The day before her exam she called me again, and I could tell she was feeling nervous, so I cracked some more jokes, gave her a pep talk and what advice I could give, and told her she would be fine. She passed with flying colors and called me to thank me for helping put her at ease. I told her it was all her own doing, and she said that while I really shouldn’t have cracked that joke when she first called, she was so glad I did. I don’t work there anymore, but that remains my favorite memory from that job.)

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