No-One Noon

, , , , | Right | March 9, 2021

Due to budget cuts over a decade ago, the town I work for closes its town hall to the public at noon on Fridays. Fridays also happen to be one of our busiest days of the week, with a lot of residents trying to get things done before the weekend. Our closing time is rigid, but we won’t kick anyone out who is already in the building, and we will let those in who are walking up the walkway toward our building when we go to lock the door. This is one of those doors that locks from the outside, but you can leave without having to be let out.

One Friday, in particular, was very busy. It was going to be a nice weekend, so residents were lining down the hall wanting to get tag sale permits, among other things. At 12:01 pm, I locked the door, looking down both sides of the walkway to make sure I wasn’t shutting the door in someone’s face. Seeing no one, I walked back into the office to continue my closing procedures and help the residents still inside.

Around ten minutes after we technically closed, I noticed more residents in line who definitely were not there before. Perhaps they had been in a different part of the building, so I shrugged and continued working. Around twenty minutes after closing, I noticed yet more residents. I walked into the hallway to see what was going on and where they were coming from.

As it turns out, whenever someone left through the doors, the next person waiting outside grabbed the handle before it closed and let in a few more nearby. I even had a resident storm up to me, angry that she had to keep letting people in because the door was locked and we should have maintenance check on why the door kept locking. I explained to her that the door was locked because we were closed, and to please stop letting people in. She was very confused but walked away when she was done. It took us about a half-hour to finish helping everyone without new people coming in.

Our hours are clearly posted on the door, our website has our hours on it, our Facebook page has our hours listed, our voicemail lists our hours, and every letter and bill we send out have our hours on it. Our hours changed close to fifteen years ago. I’m not sure how to make it clearer.

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Not The Brightest Streetlight Bulb

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: publicchunder | December 8, 2020

I work in the call centre for my local council. I take calls about school places, roads, grass that hasn’t been cut, and things like that. Occasionally, we get people trying to put in insurance claims against the council for things like tripping over uneven paving slabs, burst tyres due to potholes, etc.

Woman: “I just reversed into one of the streetlights on a public road.”

Me: “Okay, no worries. If you can let me know where the light is, I can put a report through to our engineers. They’ll go have a look at the damage and assess if it needs repairing. Thank you for letting us know!”

I assume that will be the end of it.

Woman: “I didn’t call to report the damage to the streetlight. I called about the damage to my car.”

Me: *Confused* “What exactly are you asking of us?”

Woman: “I would like you to send me some information in the post about how I can put in a claim against you for the damage to my car! It’s your fault the streetlight was there in the first place! And I’d like to take legal action against you for your negligence!”

Throughout this whole conversation, she failed to accept that there was no possible way the council would accept liability for damage to her car because she drove into a lamppost, as there was no possible way the council was responsible for the damage purely because we “put the streetlight there in the first place” as she claimed.

I transferred her to a supervisor, as she refused to take no for an answer. It was probably one of most “What the f***?” phone calls I took in my short time working at a call centre. Every now and then I wonder how far she got with that claim in the end.

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Their Stupidity Is Your Bounty

, , , | Working | October 31, 2020

I applied for a government-sponsored work placement scheme several years ago — thankfully they don’t exist anymore because of abuses of the system — and my employers pulled some strings to get me on a different scheme so they could employ the two best candidates for free. (See abuses.)

I had submitted all relevant paperwork to the Department of Social Protection — AKA the employment office — in plenty of time, had good contact with the scheme representatives, and was officially working and getting paid for a month when I got the following phone call.

DSP Worker: “Hi, [My Name]. We’ve been told that you’re going to be taking part in a [Employment Scheme #2] position. Do you have a start date for it yet?”

Me: “Uh… A month ago? I started officially on [date].”

DSP Worker: “Oh!” *Pause* “We’ve actually been paying you at the post office since then. You’ll have to collect it by [date].”

I got paid double for four weeks and nobody saw the error or tried to make me pay it back. I still don’t really trust the local office for many other blunders that weren’t in my favour.

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The Museum Does Not Serve Whine

, , , , | Right | October 16, 2020

I am a press information officer for a large city. When you work in the front lines of government service, you deal with who I call the “regular whiners,” who are constantly complaining.

They show up at EVERY Municipal Council meeting and complain to the Council, invariably going over their allotted time. They denounce the Mayor (whoever the incumbent is), the Council (whoever they are), and the whole boiling setup.

I get the spillover calls, and the most frequent caller is this one woman. She gets forwarded to me by the mayor’s office every four weeks to complain about… something, but it is invariably something I can do nothing about.

One of our museums is holding a major evening event, long-planned, long-advertised. Five hours before the event, she calls to complain.

Caller: “This event will mess up traffic in my neighborhood! Please move the whole thing to another date.”

I am stunned by this bizarre request.

Me: “For that, you should complain to the museum’s leadership.”

Caller: “Do you have their phone number?”

Me: “No, I don’t, actually, and given how busy they are, I don’t think they’re answering the phone today. Why don’t you send them an email?”

Caller: “I don’t have a computer.”

Me: “Well, why don’t you just head over to the library two blocks from your home and use theirs?”

Caller: “I’m disabled in the fingers. I prefer to call.”

Me: “So that would prevent you from writing them a note and walking that over?”

At this point, I just want my pals at the museum to laugh their heads off at the situation.

Caller: “I told you, I’m disabled in the fingers!”

Me: “But you could still walk over there and complain.”

Caller: “It’s too far to walk!”

Me: “Well, then I’m out of ideas, Mrs. [Caller]. I don’t know what to say or how to help you.”

Caller: *Angry* “That’s what my Council Member’s aide said when I called them a few minutes ago! Nobody wants to help me!”

“Maybe that’s because you’re an annoying whiner,” I think, “and nobody wants to talk to you.”

Me: “I’m sorry I can’t help you, Mrs. [Caller].”

She hangs up. I wait for fifteen seconds and call the mayor’s office.

Me: “Folks, for the past twenty years, you have been transferring Mrs. [Caller] to me. I can’t help her with her problems. Send her anywhere, send her to the New York Aquarium, to Grant’s Tomb, but please, not to me.”

They understood, got the point, and I never heard from her again.

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Intern-al Idea Theft

, , , , , , | Working | October 3, 2020

At my summer internship, one of the intern duties was logging and responding to complaint and query letters. Once we were done with the response, it was reviewed by a supervisor and then sent out. This ensured that responses were approved while sparing the salaried employees a lot of the grunt work researching them.

Because it took several days for a letter to be approved, I suggested to a fellow intern — there were five of us — that we create a shared doc about who was working on what so that we wouldn’t all accidentally write responses for the same issue. He told me he didn’t like the idea. I still brought it up to our supervisor, but she told me not to, because when there were multiple responses to the same issue, it allowed them to pull from all of them and give the most accurate response. I dropped the idea.

Towards the end of the internship period, I was talking to another intern and venting about a difficult response I’d been researching. She was confused and told me that I hadn’t marked down that I was working on that. I asked her to explain and discovered that the first guy I’d talked to had taken the idea for a spreadsheet and had been passing it off as his own among the other interns. 

I wasn’t sure how to handle the issue, but luckily, fate resolved it for me. One of the other interns mentioned the spreadsheet in front of our supervisor, who was less than happy about it. She asked me about it, since it had been my original idea, but since my name wasn’t on the doc, I was the only one who didn’t get lectured about it.

To make it even sweeter, the guy who stole my idea in the first place got called into the big boss’s office and was yelled at about how stealing someone else’s ideas and passing them off as your own is unethical behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated. He didn’t end up getting fired, but he was on probation for the rest of the internship. I’m guessing he didn’t get a good letter of reference out of the whole thing.

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