The Power To Point Out Stupidity

, , , , , | Right | July 2, 2021

I work as a level-two help desk tech at a major university under contract with a government agency to provide computer support. We aren’t bound by any agreement that we can’t point out someone’s stupidity to them when deserved.

This was in the day when everyone was getting laptops but not everyone knew how they worked (so it really could have been yesterday).

Me: “[Agency Help Desk], this is [My Name].”

Client: “I can’t get my laptop to turn off.”

Me: “Okay, did you try holding the power button for five seconds?”

Client: “Yes, but it wouldn’t turn off.”

Me: “Try unplugging it from the power outlet.”

Client: “I did, but it still won’t turn off.”

Me: “So, let’s remove the battery and see what happens.”

Client: “It’s still powered on.”

Me: “So, send it to me, and I will split the money with you.”

Client: “Money? What are you talking about?”

Me: “Well, we’ve found the only laptop in the world that doesn’t require any source of power, and we are going to be rich.”

Client: “Umm, I’ll call back later.”

Me: “Okay, but I was hoping to buy a yacht.”

Client: *Click!*

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The More Locked The Doors Are The More They’ll Try To Get In

, , , , , , | Right | June 4, 2021

I work for the town government. The building I work in is closed to the public, but we have temporary workspaces in the building next door to allow for customers to come in. There are only two departments with designated workspaces — I represent one of them — and all other departments in the building are closed or by appointment only.

This is explained on the website, on social media, on the phone when you call in, and on the doors of the building. Roped stanchions are placed across the staircases with “DO NOT ENTER — EMPLOYEES ONLY” signs on them.

The other departments have also locked their doors to prevent wanderers from walking in. Benches are placed across the doors of the large event room to prevent people from going in. The only places customers can go freely are down the hall from one outside door to the other as well as in the bathroom.

We also have to use a visitor log for contact tracing in case one of us is sick with [contagious illness] with the date, time of visit, name, and phone number of the visitor. Below are a few customer interactions I’ve had within the first two weeks of opening. Also of note, we aren’t supposed to call to make appointments for other people. They are supposed to call themselves. Every department is extremely short-staffed, so if we use our time being the liaison calling other departments to make appointments for people, we will be missing our own phone calls, which we are already missing due to not having enough staff.

Me: “Hi, can I help you?”

Customer #1: “I need a permit for [item].”

Me: “Oh, okay. [Department #1] isn’t here, but you can either mail the application and payment in, put it in the dropbox, hand it to me so I can give it to them, or call them and make an appointment to meet with them.”

Customer #1: “No, that won’t do. I need a permit now.”

Me: “Right, well, they aren’t here, so those are your options. I can write down the phone number and mailing address for you if you’d like?”

Customer #1: “NO! I NEED A PERMIT NOW!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I can’t issue permits. The only departments here today are [My Department] and [Department #2]. [Department #1] doesn’t have hours here, but if you need to meet with them, you can call them and make an appointment. Or I could hand your application and payment to them when I go back over. Or you could mail it or put it in the dropbox.”

Customer #1: “NO! GOD, YOU’RE USELESS!” *Storms out*

Next customer:

Me: “Hi, can I help you?”

Customer #2: “I just tried the doors for [Department #3], but they’re locked! Can you call them and tell them to open their doors?”

Me: “Unfortunately, I can’t. I can give you their phone number, though, and you can make an appointment if you need to meet in person.”

Customer #2: “No, I’m not going to make an appointment. I just want to go in. I need an [activity pass].”

Me: “Oh, well, they aren’t selling [activity passes] right now for health reasons, but again, I can give you their phone number if you want to talk to them.”

Customer #2: “No! I’m not calling them! I’m going to stand right here until you let me see them!”

Me: “Okay, but they aren’t coming out right now. The only way to see them is to call them.”

Customer #2: *Stomps foot* “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!”

She leaves two minutes later after realizing her temper tantrum won’t solve anything.

Next customer:

The door to the event room is slowly but forcefully pushed open, knocking over one of the benches.

Me: “Uh, sir? Can I help you?”

Customer #3: “Yeah, I was just looking for [Department #4]. There was a bench in the way, so I moved it to get in here, but it looks like you put another bench in the way. Why would you do that?”

Me: “Well, sir, no department has ever been located in the event room, and we don’t want people going in there unsupervised, so we put the benches up to block the entrances.”

Customer #3: “They used to be in that room. Did they move?”

Me: “I don’t know if they were ever in that room, but not in the seven years I’ve worked here, and not for at least thirty years to my knowledge. In any event, you can meet with [Department #4] by calling them to make an appointment. Do you want their phone number?”

Customer #3: “No, that’s okay. Thanks, sweetie. I’ll talk to them some other time.”

Customers #4-#50:

Customers #4-#50: “Do you have [very specific item/book/information that requires research]?”

Me: “We do back at the main office, but not here. I can call you later with that information, you can pick it up on [list days and times], or you can make an appointment to view it later.”

Customers #4-#50: “I don’t understand why you don’t have it here. It’s public record. I should be able to get [very specific item/book/information].”

Me: “As you can see, I have nowhere to keep it here.”

I gesture to the twenty-five-square-foot room/closet acting as my “office”.

Customers #51-#100:

Me: *On the phone* “[My Department], can I help you?”

Customers #51-#100: “Yes, are you open yet for us to come in?”

Me: Yes, we are open, but not at [main building]. [Main building] is closed. We are in [building next door] at [address].”

Customers #51-#100: “Oh, like where we vote?”

Me: “Yes, exactly — [building next door] where the voting takes place.”

Customers #51-#100: “Okay, see you soon!”

A few minutes later on the phone:

Me: “[Department], can I help you?”

Customers #51-#100: “Yes, I just went to [main building] like you said, but the doors are locked! And there is a sign saying to go to [building next door]? Is that right?”

Me: “Yes, that is correct. Come over to [building next door]. Remember where you vote? It’s that building.”

Customers #51-#100: “Oh, it’s where we vote? Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place instead of sending me over to [main building]?”

Customers #101-Infinity:

Exit doors, which are locked from the outside and clearly marked as Exit Only, are being tugged at.

Customers #101-Infinity: “Did you know your doors are locked?”

How did you get in, then?

Me: “Only the exit doors are locked. There are big signs on them saying ‘EXIT ONLY.’ There are also large signs next to two other doors, such as the one you came in, that say, ‘ENTER HERE.’ Those doors are unlocked.”

Customers #101-Infinity: “Yeah, well, I just wanted you to know that the door was locked. You should probably fix that.”

And I bang my head on my desk.

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H2-OMG!

, , | Right | May 27, 2021

The city I work for isn’t huge, but we are nearing 100,000 people so we aren’t a small population, either. Twice a year, we flush out our water lines in the street to freshen the water system. This sometimes causes the water to be discoloured, but it is perfectly safe to use and drink.

Every once in a blue moon, if someone runs a wash of white clothes at the same time, the clothes will be stained, but we can give them a bottle of stain remover, and we have never had anything permanently damaged. I answer the phone.

Me: “[City].”

Caller: “My water is a disgusting brown; I can’t use it!”

Me: “Where do you live?”

Caller: “[Address]!”

Me: “I’m sorry. They are flushing the lines in your area, but the water is perfectly safe to use during this time and should clear up by the end of the day.”

Caller: “Why didn’t they tell me? It is dangerous for me because I was going to do laundry!”

Me: “Sorry about that. They aren’t able to inform everyone in person, as it affects quite a large area. I would wait until the water clears to do your laundry, just to be safe.”

Caller: “I can’t believe they wouldn’t tell me! I have allergies, and I can’t be drinking the water when it looks like that! It could kill me!”

Me: “The water is regularly tested and perfectly safe to drink, but if you prefer to wait until it clears, it shouldn’t be too much longer.”

Caller: “It’s dangerous for me! Why wouldn’t they tell me?”

Me: “Unfortunately, they are unable to tell every household, but we do publish it on our website, on social media, in the newspaper, and over the radio.”

Caller: “They can’t expect me to check the website every day?! I can’t listen to the media because the news makes me too sad!”

Me: “I’m really sorry. They do try to get the message out to everyone.”

Caller: “Well, they should tell me! I can’t listen to the news and it’s dangerous for me!”

I finally managed to calm her down, but I have no idea how she thought we would inform hundreds of people a week door to door.

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You Can Throw Those Complaints In The Trash

, , , , , | Right | May 25, 2021

I work for the local council contact centre. People can call in regard to any council-related issue. In this case, it’s about rubbish dumped on the street

The customer has been putting in request after request for the last few months. He calls again and I am the unfortunate one to take his call.

Me: “Good afternoon, [Council], [My Name] speaking. How can I help?”

Caller: “I want this sorted today! I have been putting requests in and it’s not been sorted! I want your manager!”

Me: *Trying to be as calm as possible* “May I ask what the issue is please?”

Caller: “People are dumping rubbish outside my house. It’s all your fault, you stupid b****! My address is [address]!”

Me: “I’m just going to put you on hold so I can have a look.”

I just can’t stand his shouting but I remain calm. 

Me: “Okay, sir, I can see that you have put in two requests in May and June, and another was put in two days ago. This has now gone to the relevant team.”

Caller: “No, I want this sorted today! Call me your manager!”

I called the manager who was in a meeting, so he wanted my manager’s manager’s name to speak to them to get it sorted today. I rang my manager again who had to come out of the meeting to deal with this customer. The caller wanted the surnames of everyone he had spoken to, which I refused due to data protection.

I ended up putting him through to the manager and finished work thirty minutes late thanks to him. It turns out HE was one throwing rubbish on HIS OWN LAND. The council doesn’t deal with privately-owned roads due to insurance purposes, etc. He had been throwing everything out and expecting us to pick it all up.

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Stop! In The Name Of Shrubbery!

, , , , , | Legal | May 7, 2021

For several years, my dad worked as an inspector for the state transportation department, traveling the state to make sure roads were properly maintained.

On one of his trips, my dad got into a minor accident on a city street and was charged with running a stop sign. His boss was, naturally, extremely upset with my dad, until my dad presented his dashcam footage; the stop sign my dad had run was completely blocked by a bush.

Our state has a law that all road signs must be clearly visible from a certain distance, and this stop sign was in violation of that law. My dad’s boss sent another employee to the city for an inspection. That employee found several other instances where road signs were obstructed from view, and my dad’s boss had a field day issuing the citations to the city.

When my dad went back to the city for his court appearance, he told the judge what he did for a living and what role he had played in the entire thing. The judge waived all charges and invited my dad to spend some time in town and “make sure the city engineering office had cleared everything up to his satisfaction.”


This story is part of our Best Of May 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of May 2021 roundup story!

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