I Don’t Work Here, Does Not Work Here, Part 15

, | Right | September 17, 2014

(I am a PhD student. It is 7 pm on Friday night, and everyone is down at the pub, except for me. I have just come back from an experiment. To my great surprise one of my coworkers is still at her desk.)

Me: “Oh, you’re still here.”

Coworker: “I’m about to go. A guy called your phone just now, looking for Mr. ‘No-One-Who-Works-In-Our-Office.'”

Me: “Huh. Must have got the wrong number.”

Coworker: *suddenly looking pained* “I tried to tell him that. But it was really weird. He said he would call back in a few minutes, though. I think you better wait to speak to him. Anyway, I’m off. See you Monday!”

(I get on with some paperwork. About 20 minutes later, the call comes.)

Me: “Hello, this is room [Room Name]. You’re speaking to—”

Caller: “Hello. Please pass me on to Mr [Name].”

(I don’t recognize the name.)

Me: “Ah, it is you! You called before. I’m afraid you got the wrong number—”

Caller: “This is about my son. I want Mr. [Name] to send me the financial statements for his enrollment. It is a very urgent matter and I want them immediately.”

Me: “Yes, I’m afraid you have the wrong number. There’s no person by that name in this office. I think my colleague was trying to tell you before—”

Caller: “So, he is out? In that case, I will give you my son’s name and student number and you will tell Mr [Name] to telephone me as soon as he returns. My son’s name is—”

Me: “I’m afraid I can’t do that for you. I have never heard of that person, so I wouldn’t be able to pass anything on to him. It sounds to me like you want to get admin or accounts or someone like that.”

Caller: “That’s right. I am calling international accounts.”

Me: “Erm, I’m afraid you’re not. This is one of the PhD offices. You have the wrong number. Actually, hang on, let me find the right number for you—”

(I pull up the university search page to find the right number for him. I am quite new myself and know that it can be a confusing system, especially since it sounds like English is not the caller’s first language. Before I can get it for him, however, he starts shouting.)

Caller: “How can I have the wrong number? HOW? I cannot understand how this can happen.”

Me: “Maybe you wrote it down wrong? Or pressed the wrong button? I don’t know how because, well, I’m not you. But I’m trying to get the right one for you.”

Caller: “Mr [Name] told me to call this number. How can he tell me the wrong number? What sort of institution is this? It is completely unprofessional! This is how things are run in this country. Every time I call it is like this, some excuse to waste my time. I called only two minutes ago and was speaking to Mr [Name], and he told me to call this number back. He wouldn’t give me the wrong number. You are just trying to slack off work! You are lying so you don’t have to help me!”

Me: “Erm, I don’t know what to say to you except that you definitely have it wrong somehow. There are only six people in this office and he’s not one of them. And you didn’t call this office two minutes ago because I was here and the phone didn’t ring. Unless you mean about 20 minutes ago, in which case you would have called [Coworker], who is a girl and is definitely not the guy you’re looking for. It sounds to me like you simply got the wrong number somehow. I’m sure he wouldn’t have given it to you deliberately, but maybe he made a mistake. It’s pretty easy to do.”

Caller: “So, are refusing to help me?”

Me: “I’m not sure that I can, really. But I’ve been trying to find the right number through the university website for you so—”

Caller: “I don’t want to call again. You will write down my son’s name like I told you and find out about his accounts for me.”

Me: “I beg your pardon?”

Caller: “Write down his name and find out the information I want. Then call me back straight away as this is a very urgent matter. I will give you my phone number. I don’t want to call back here again. I am overseas and it is too expensive and have been wasting too much of my time and money already!”

Me: “But they’re closed. It’s 7:30 on a Friday night! And—”

Caller: “So do it on Monday morning! But do it first thing and call me as soon as possible.”

Me: “And I don’t even work in accounts!”

Caller: “What?”

Me: “I don’t work there. There I do not work. Work there, I do not. I am a student. I am not responsible for helping you find out about your son. They don’t pay my wages. I don’t work in accounts! This is not an accounts office!”

Caller: “You… don’t work for accounts?”

Me: *relieved* “Yes! That’s what I’ve been trying to say!”

Caller: “THEN WHY HAVE YOU BEEN WASTING MY TIME?!”

(He hangs up. Another coworker walks in to find me still gaping at the receiver.)

Coworker #2: “You look like you need a drink.”

Me: “You have no idea.”

 

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