Wasn’t Done In A New York Minute

, , , , | Right | May 29, 2017

(I work at a very large church in NYC that’s also a popular tourist destination. We’re known not just for our grandeur, but also our programming, both liturgical and secular, which brings a lot of people through our doors. I work in the gift shop, which is also something of a reception area. In the middle of a busy day, I get this phone call.)

Me: “[My Church] Visitors Center. This is [My Name].”

Caller: “Hi, there’s an organ concert happening at [Church on the other side of town] next week and I’m coming into Penn Station to hear it.”

(Please note, we have organ concerts, as well, so I’m thinking this has something to do with our organist.)

Caller: “How do I get there?”

Me: “From [My Church]?”

Caller: “No! From Penn Station! Can I walk to Madison Avenue and then take the Madison Avenue local?”

Me: “Walk to Madison Avenue from Penn Station? It’s kind of far.”

Caller: “But can I walk it?”

Me: “I suppose you could walk the entire way if you wanted to.”

Caller: “But I want to walk to Madison Avenue and then take the local up!”

Me: “This isn’t [Church across town]. This is [My Church].”

Caller: “I know! But no one was picking up over there!”

Me: “I can try to help get you directions, but we’re not affiliated with that church, so I’m not familiar with where it is.”

Caller: “I know you’re not! I’m just trying to find out if I can walk to Madison Avenue and take the Madison Avenue local up!”

Me: “To get across town your best bet is to take the shuttle at Times Square.”

Caller: “I don’t want to take a shuttle! What subway should I take!”

Me: “The shuttle is the subway you should take. It runs from Times Square to Grand Central and back.”

(This goes on for far longer than you’d think it should, after I’ve given him explicit subway instructions with him questioning me at every direction. He doesn’t believe me that there’s no subway line on Madison Avenue. He doesn’t believe me that the closest subway stop is four blocks and two avenues from the church, and he’s getting increasingly frustrated that I don’t know the exact address and location of a church I don’t work for. My line is growing and my colleague — who is not required to answer phones, by the way — offers to take the call so I can get back to our visitors.)

Me: “I’m going to pass you on to my colleague, because I have a line of customers here who need help, but she will help you find the best way to get there.”

Caller: “Customers? What’s going on there? Is there an event?”

Me: “No, no event today.”

Caller: “Then what customers do you have?”

Me: “We have tourists visiting here every day.”

Caller: “Is this the gift shop?!”

Me: “Yes. I’m passing you on to my colleague now.”

(She takes the phone while I apologize to our paying customers. I can overhear her telling him basically the same things I said and apparently getting the same backlash. Ultimately I hear her say, “We don’t work for the MTA or that church, but the MTA’s website has a function to help you find the best route,” and shortly after that the call is over and my line has died down.)

Me: “What did he say when you told him you don’t work for the MTA?”

Colleague: “He said, ‘But you’re New Yorkers!’”

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