Does Your Pen Say “ACME” On The Side?

, , , , , | Working | March 19, 2019

(I work for a nonprofit agency that runs professional licensing examinations. We still use paper applications, and among our rules is that the applications are signed or we will reject them. Although the instructions state they have to be in black or blue ink only, we are willing to accept any color ink, or pencil, or even crayon, as long as they are signed. One Friday afternoon, a young lady calls. I’ve had a long week but am feeling silly and mischievous when I pick up the phone.)

Caller: *speaking timidly* “What happens if you sign the application in red ink?”

Me: *falling victim to a wicked urge* “The application explodes.”

Caller: “Uh… uh… It blows up? Really?”

Me: “Try it and see!”

(She was dead silent for a few moments, and just as I started thinking that I went too far and started to apologize, she exploded in shrieks of laughter. Once she regained her composure, I apologized, as I really shouldn’t have done that, but she dismissed it, and thanked me as she had been stressing out over little things and needed a good laugh. She asked my name and extension so she could reach me again if needed, and she did call back a few times, always with intelligent questions and always sounding glad to hear my voice. The day before her exam she called me again, and I could tell she was feeling nervous, so I cracked some more jokes, gave her a pep talk and what advice I could give, and told her she would be fine. She passed with flying colors and called me to thank me for helping put her at ease. I told her it was all her own doing, and she said that while I really shouldn’t have cracked that joke when she first called, she was so glad I did. I don’t work there anymore, but that remains my favorite memory from that job.)

Unfiltered Story #137098

, , | Unfiltered | January 22, 2019

(I’m handling customer service for a non-profit’s eCommerce Division.  We have two departments, one for books and one for other products, sold on an exclusive website for this nonprofit.  I’m acting manager while my boss is on vacation.

Me: Good afternoon, this is (name), how can I help you?

Customer: (Loud, rushed, and frazzled) Ineedyoutocanceltheorderforthatwii.

Me: (not understanding at all) I’m sorry?

Customer: The wii.  I need you to cancel it.

Me: All right.  What’s the order number, so I can pull up the listing?

Customer: Order number?  Hang on, let me get my email.  Hold the phone.

Me: Sure thing.

Customer: Hold the phone.  Hold the phone.  Hold the phone, please.  Are you there?  Can you hold the phone?  I’m getting my email.  Hold the phone.  Hold please.  Please hold the phone.

Me: Take your time

Customer: Order number.  Hold the phone (phone beeps as she navigates the web browser) Hold the phone.  Are you there?

Me: Yes ma’am.

Customer: Hold the phone. Okay it’s (order number that doesn’t register with our system.)

Me: Alright, I don’t see that order coming up. Can you verify your email?

Customer: What? Email?  It’s (email).

Me: I don’t see an account under that name.  Are you sure it’s a (non-profit eCommerce site) order?

Customer: What?  What’s that?  No, it’s an (popular online shopping site) order!

Me: I’m afraid you may have called the wrong business, ma’am.  This is (non-profit), we don’t sell Wii’s on (popular online shopping site).

Customer: What? (hangs up)

Me: Okay then.

Losing The Numbers Game

, , , , , | Right | August 2, 2018

(I work for a small non-profit that connects people with legal resources. A local hotel accidentally gave out our phone number instead of theirs to a bunch of guests. I have a variation of this phone call about seven times this day.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Non-Profit]. How may I help you?”

Caller: “Is this [Hotel]?”

Me: “No, I’m sorry. This is [Non-Profit]. We’re a non-profit.”

Caller: “But this is the number I was given!”

Me: “Are you in need of legal resources?”

Caller: “Of course not! I’m trying to call [Hotel].”

Me: “Well, this isn’t [Hotel]; this is a non-profit.”

Caller: “But this is the number I was given!”

Me: *slams head into desk*

H2-Woah, Part 5

, , , , , | Friendly | January 26, 2018

(I’m an intern at a non-profit and am canvassing for petition signatures at a local market. People that don’t want to sign typically have really lame excuses instead of just saying, “No, thank you.” This is by far my favorite refusal.)

Me: “Hi there. Do you have a moment to sign a petition to improve water quality?”


H2-Woah, Part 4
H2-Woah, Part 3
H2-Woah, Part 2

A Non-Understanding Of Non-Profits

, , , | Learning | September 6, 2017

(I work for a non-profit arts organization. Among other things, we organize arts-oriented trips to New York City for local schools. It is a delicate balance to create a trip that includes most attractions that teachers want, is affordable for students, and covers costs for the staff who lead the trip. A teacher has just made a new request that would require a lot of juggling to maintain this balance.)

Supervisor: “Okay, ma’am. We can include [Attraction #1] in the itinerary, but then we would need to cut [Attractions #2 and #3]. Are you sure you want to make this change?”

Teacher: “I don’t want to cut things! I just want you to add [Attraction #1]!”

Supervisor: “We can’t do that without raising the cost for students or taking out of our profit.”

Teacher: “But you are a NON-profit! You shouldn’t be worried about making a profit!”

Supervisor: “We still need to make enough money to compensate our staff for their travel expenses and the time they’ve spent planning the trip.”

Teacher: “Why do YOU get to make money off this trip? I’M not making any money!”

Supervisor: “You are a public school teacher. That’s how you make your money.”


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