Decision Derision

| Amsterdam, The Netherlands | Bizarre

(I work in the Historical Research Institute.)

Caller: *immensely cheerful* “Hi, this is Mrs. [Name] from Goodwill!”

Me: “Hello.”

Caller: “How are you?”

Me: “I’m just fine. How are you?”

Caller: “I’m fine, too! Great! I was hoping I could talk to the owner. Is he there?”

Me: “The owner of this building is the National Monument Service, ma’am.”

Caller: “Nice! Is he there?”

Me: “Er, no, the National Monument Service is not here… That is a branch of the government.They have their own offices elsewhere.”

Caller: “Okay, great. Is the head decision maker there?”

Me: “The head decision maker about what in particular?”

Caller: “You know, the person who makes the decisions.”

Me: “In order to direct your call I need to know what decisions you mean, ma’am.”

Caller: “Well, who IS the decision maker?”

Me: *trying a new tack* “Ma’am, we are a subsidiary of the National Academy of Sciences. All high-level decisions originate there. They have their own offices.”

Caller: “No, who is YOUR main decision maker? There! Where you are! YOUR company!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but we have various department heads and team leaders and in order to direct your call I need to know what kind of decision you mean when you ask for the head decision-maker.”

Caller: “Decisions about goodness, about having a heart! Decisions about decency! About children in need!”

Me: “Ma’am, I really am uncertain how to direct your call. Could you be more specific about the TYPE of decision that needs to be made?”

Caller: *waxing significantly less cheery* “YOU must have a direct superior. Who is YOUR direct superior?”

Me: “That is Mr. [Name], ma’am; he is in a meeting. But I—”

Caller: *now sounding pissed off* “FINE! I will call back tomorrow!” *click*

Should Have Been Trained In This

| Wales, UK | School, Technology, Transportation

(There is a Victorian Tram in the county’s most popular resort town. It is owned by the county council, and since most group bookings are long-distance and well ahead of time, the ‘dedicated’ Tramway booking line actually just gets diverted to our office, with a different ringtone/screen display than other calls.)

Me: “Bore da. Good morning. [Tramway].”

Customer: “Hiya, yep; I wanna book my school onto the Tram.”

Me: “No problem. What dates did you have in mind?”

(The customer and I continue to exchange questions over the phone without a hitch until I get to the last question…)

Me: “And does your group have any other special requirements?”

Customer: “Yes, can you let me know if the wi-fi is charged separately?”

Me: “What wi-fi, Mrs [Customer]?”

Customer: “The built-in wi-fi on the Tram.”

Me: “Mrs [Customer], I’m afraid there isn’t wi-fi on the Victorian Tram.”

Customer: “Well, okay. Do you know if the in-built DVD drive can play a normal CD?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but there is not a built-in DVD drive, either. The Tram is very old.”

Customer: “I KNOW it’s old. I wanted to play the children a clip from [TV show] which did a feature on the Tram; it says it has barely been altered mechanically since it opened. I thought the children could watch it whilst they were actually ON the tram.”

Me: “‘Barely altered’ includes not decking out the Tram with wi-fi, TVs or DVD players, Mrs [Customer]. Most people like to enjoy the views during the tram ride and we have [summit centre] with the facilities to play them if you want to show your presentation there before descending again?”

Customer: “No, I wanted them to see it on the Tram itself. I can’t believe it hasn’t had an upgrade.”

Me: “Lack of upgrade is sort of the point. I’m sorry I can’t help you. Would you still like me to confirm the booking?”

Customer: “Not yet, I’ll check with [Headteacher] first. He needs to know about this.”

(The headteacher phones back several days later to confirm, apologising for the teacher – whom he described as ‘a bit dipsy.’)

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A Taxing Customer

| UK | Criminal & Illegal, Money

(I work as a tax collector for the UK tax office. I phone guy who owes tax.)

Me: “Hello, is that Mr [Debtor]?”

Debtor: “Yeah.”

Me: “I’m [My Name] from HM Revenue and Customs. I’m phoning about your outstanding tax.”

Debtor: “No, you’re not.”

Me: *pause* “Um, yes, I am.”

Debtor: “No, you’re not.” *click*

(I pause. Maybe I gabbled the first bit. I say the same thing so many times a day it becomes routine. I phone back.)

Me: “Mr. [Debtor]. I’m sorry; I seem to have got off on the wrong foot.”

Debtor: “Whatever.”

(I can hear what sounds like a pub in the background; maybe he’s putting on an act for his mates.)

Me: “I need to talk to you about your debt. If you don’t pay we will enforce the debt, either by distraint, which is removal of goods for sale at public auction, or by placing you in county court and asking for judgement against you.”

Debtor: “Do what you got to do mate. Now f*** off!”

(A few weeks later, I get a phone call transferred to me.)

Debtor: “You’ve put me in court.”

Me: “You told me to, sir.”

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That Old Adage About Old Age

| Wales, UK | Bizarre, Health & Body

(My department for the local county council takes service requests from residents of the area for all sorts of things:)

Me: “Bore da. Good morning. This is [Local Council].”

Caller: *shouting* “I’M OLD!”

Me: “Okay, sir, it happens to all of us eventually. Now, how can I help?”

Caller: “I’M OLD, YOU SEE! I’M DISABLED! I HAVE ARTHRITIS AND SCIATICA AND BUNIONS.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear you have those things, sir. Now, please tell me how I can help you this morning.”

Customer: “YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME. I’M OLD AND YOU NEED TO GET THIS SORTED.”

Me: “I listened to everything you’ve said, sir. You’re elderly and you suffer from arthritis and sciatica and bunions. Now, these things understandably cause you pain and would have meant you needed help with something. If you can remember what that ‘something’ was and recall why you might have phoned me up, I can try and help you.”

Customer: “I NEED YOU TO… Oh. I can’t remember. If you remember can you call me?” *click*

Me: *to thin air* “Uh… not without your phone number, I can’t.”

Has One Of Those Genderal Voices

| Wales, UK | Bizarre, Health & Body

(I work in the departmental switchboard, so I field calls. If someone’s on their phone or even logged out, the calls reroute to me/ Normally people are fine with me taking messages.)

Me: “Bore da. Good morning.  [Local Government].”

Customer: “Hello! Is that [Male Colleague]?”

Me: “Nope, [Colleague] is off sick at the moment. If you tell me your query I can direct you to somebody else who may be able to help.”

Customer: “Oh, it IS you [Male Colleague]!”

Me: “Ma’am. I am not [Male Colleague], I am [Female Name] and you’re through to switchboard. What’s your query?”

Customer: “How did your op go, [Male Colleague]? I didn’t realise it was THAT kind of op!”

Me: “Ma’am, I am NOT [Male Colleague]. If you tell me what your call is regarding, perhaps I can help you.”

Customer: *ignoring me* “Cruciate ligament, you said. Well, now we know better. I think [Female Name] is a great choice! Good for you!”

Me: “Ma’am, [Male Colleague] is still on sick. He did not have gender reassignment surgery. I am a different person. And I would like, very much, to help you with your query.”

Customer: “It’s okay. I’ll see you at [Local Pub] on Friday. We can have a chat ‘off the record’ and I’ll bring you my favourite lipstick.” *click*

(All my switchboard colleagues, who’ve only heard my half of the conversation, are staring at me.)

Me: “Yeah, I have no idea either.”

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