The Lost Art Of Writing Things Down

, , , , , , | Working | February 20, 2020

This happened over twenty years ago before most things were computerized and messages were still written down. I worked for a wonderful company that built and serviced the refrigeration and freezer units you see in grocery stores. We also serviced those manufactured by others in five different states. I was the secretary that assisted in dispatching service calls to the techs. We had a guaranteed eight-hour response time and charged a lot for it. I would either call the techs on the phone or two-way radios, or page them and wait for them to call in to give them the service calls. 

At the time, I was a temp and was praying to get hired on full-time. I loved my job and the people I worked with — a rare combination. I worked from 6:30 am until 7:00 pm — and was paid very well for it. Before I left the office, I would switch the phones over to a call center which would dispatch the calls for us for after-hours. I also had to call the center and give them any dispatch calls to an operator that I hadn’t yet dispatched because the techs hadn’t answered my pages. 

After working there for about three weeks, I came in one morning to a very irate boss telling me to leave the phone forwarded to the call center and get into her office. I came in to see and about three other supervisors, as well as the call center supervisor on speakerphone. After going through a speech about how important the response time was for their customers, they let me know that two calls had not gotten dispatched the night before and they were very upset and were letting me go.

I asked them what calls and when they told me, I told them that they had been dispatched to the call center. My boss told me that the call center employee that handles their account, whom I had talked to the night before, said I didn’t. I told her to wait one minute, and I would be right back. She tried to say something but I ran out of her office, grabbed my message book off my desk, and came back. I put the book on her desk and pointed to the messages. 

“Yes, that proves you took the message but…” my boss started, but then I flipped the page over. On the back, written in red ink, was the name of the person and the time I passed on the call as well as the word “phone.” I started flipping through all the pages, showing her and the others, as I explained.

“You will see that on the back of every call, I put in red ink the name of the person the call was dispatched to, the exact time, or if they were paged the time I paged them, as well as how I told them, e.g. phone, two-way, or in person.”

My boss and supervisors were… well… I would say a mixture of surprised and impressed. At that point, the call center supervisor spoke up. “I have the operator in my office; I will put her on speakerphone.”

The operator said, “Yes, I am here. I am sorry, but your secretary is lying. I never received those calls. I am so sorry you are having to put up with this. I know your company has been through several secretaries, but this one just did not do her job.”

True, there had been at least two new ones each month for about a year until they found me that could handle the job. The call center supervisor asked for the times I had dispatched the calls and told my boss that she would call back after some investigation. My boss sent me back to work. I spent an agonizing morning working, worried I was going to lose the best job I had ever had. Before my lunch break, I got called into the owner’s office with my boss and the other supervisors.

My boss began to explain, “We thought we would let you know what happened. The call center supervisor went back and brought up the recordings of the calls. It was easy to find since you had the times written down. And we found out that the operator was lying.”

“My question is why would she lie?” I asked. “It was a simple, though costly mistake.”

The owner just said, “She worked there for several years and I guess she thought she could get away with it. Don’t know, frankly don’t care. That is the call center’s problem. They did fire her. Now, we would like to offer you full-time permanent employment.”

So, that is how I got the job I loved, working with the people I loved, and the new nickname from the techs: The Queen of CYA — “Cover Your A**”!

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