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I’m Just Telling You, You Gotta Have The Paperwork

, , , , , | Working | July 15, 2020

I upgrade laptop computers for civil servants. When I took the work, I had this image of public sector employees being rude and entitled and was delighted when the opposite turned out to be true. I had never met so many people delighted to be of help.

It was too good to last. The rot set in slowly, with people doing exceptionally human things. Not reading important information. Panicking because they hadn’t read the information.

My most recent shift begins with two clients who want things done their way. I don’t have that kind of authority. I get handed a work order, and I’m prohibited from helping anyone until I have that paperwork.

Me: “Hello, I’m [My Name]. I’m here to upgrade your laptop.”

[Client #2] starts raising her hands and waving them frantically.

Client #1: “You’ll have to come back when I’m finished with this.”

Me: “Can you tell me when that might be?”

Client #1: “I really couldn’t say.”

[Client #2] continues to wave her hands, still sitting at her cubicle.

Me: *To [Client #2]* “Did you want something, ma’am?”

Client #2: “I need to take my computer home for the evening.”

Me: “That’s fine, go ahead. But if it’s not there, we don’t know when the upgrade will happen.”

Client #2: “Okay, wow, I’m just telling you. I can’t be at my desk tomorrow; I have to take this computer home.”

Me: “That’s fine. I’ll just tell the coordinator that.”

Client #2: “But I need a computer tomorrow. I guess it’ll have to be this one.”

I finally figure out that she thinks I can just give her the laptop I’m carrying. That’s not so. Each laptop is configured with the software the client is authorized to have, and every one so far has been different; there’s no “standard.” I haven’t told [Client #2] yet that I can’t do anything for her at all until I or another of our team is assigned her work order.

Me: “And that’s fine.”

Client #2: “Can’t you upgrade my computer now?”

Me: “Well, that takes about an hour, and—”

Client #2: “That’s fine. I’ll just wait until it’s done, and then I can go home.”

There were all sorts of reasons that was not going to work, and the paperwork was the least of them. I’m not in any sense a team lead, but we try to be as helpful as we can. If I got her details, I could ask my coordinator if he could dispatch a team member specifically with her paperwork. So, I got what my coordinator will need.

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have explained to [Client #2] immediately that every client is assigned a team member specifically, because when I got called away, [Client #2] was kind of huffy about it. When I came back a few minutes later, the team member who was assigned to her had arrived.

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Has a customer ever tried to cross you and lived to regret it? What happened?

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