The Not-So-Smartphone Generation

| Working | January 26, 2016

(I work in a market research call centre as a training supervisor. Trainees have old-fashioned telephones with wired handsets instead of headsets like they’d have doing “live” calls.)

Me: “We’re using old-style phones, the kind with a handset, coiled cord, all attached to a phone body base with buttons you push for the numbers to make calls, so you don’t get put on the automatic dialer. Just dial any phone number like you would on any regular phone. Now pick up your handsets…” *pause as everyone does so* “Good. Now I’m going to give you my home phone number so that we’re not dialing an actual random person for a training survey. Please dial [number]. One of you will get my answering machine or a very surprised husband and the rest of you will get a busy signal. Feel free to leave a weird answering message or mess with my husband, whoever gets through.” *trainees chuckle*

Trainee: “Miss! Miss!”

Me: “Yes?”

Trainee: “My phone does not work.”

Me: “Your phone doesn’t work?”

Trainee: “No. My phone does not work.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Trainee: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay. Try dialing again.”

(I then get distracted by someone else needing help. When I’m done, I ask her again.)

Me: “Did it work this time?”

Trainee: “No. It did not work.”

(I scratch my head and head over, looking at the phone.)

Me: “Let me try.” *take the handset from her and dial my number, phone rings once and I hang up* “Hm. It seems to work for me. Can you show me what you did?”

Trainee: “Okay.”

(The trainee takes the handset from me and holds it to her ear. She then reaches up and… punches in my phone number ONTO THE COMPUTER KEYBOARD NUMBER PAD. I look at the screen and see on the input line that she has typed my phone number into the computer no less than SIX TIMES.)

Me: “Um, that’s not how you dial a phone.”

Trainee: “It’s not?”

Me: *mental facepalm* “Do you see how the handset is attached by a cord?”

Trainee: “Yes?”

Me: “What is it attached to?”

Trainee: “A phone?”

Me: “Yeeees. What’s on that phone?”

Trainee: “Buttons with numbers on them?”

Me: “Yeeees. Do you know what you do with those buttons with numbers on them?”

Trainee: “You push them?”

Me: “Yeeees.”

Trainee: “Oh! I understand!”

Me: *trying not claw my own face off and to remain polite and understanding* “Good. Now try again.”

(She got it right that time but was let go three weeks after starting because she was simply too incompetent to do the job. I tried telling her she wasn’t right for the job but she begged me for a chance and I gave it to her. When she was let go, I then got called in and fussed at for allowing a trainee I could see was CLEARLY incapable of doing the work, out onto the live dialing floor. I learned my lesson.)

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