Oh, now I’ve done it. I’ve cut the dickens out of my finger.

So, in case you’re wondering, the last weekday before a holiday weekend at an answering service? IS INSANITY. I was warned, whoo, was I warned, but I was all, nah, it won’t be that bad. SELF-DELUSION! It was CRAZINESS.

Here’s the scoop: you know how you have a job? Most of you do, probably. I mean, I assume you do. You’re paying your bills and don’t seem to be reading my blog from under a bridge or whatever. You know how most jobs (well, most GOOD jobs) close a little early the day before a holiday weekend, because that’s a nice thing to do? Well, we answer for a lot of places, and most of the places we answer for close a little early the day before a holiday weekend. Most of them tell us (by “us” I mean the answering service, not me and my imaginary friend or something, oh, SIDE NOTE, if you say “us” without specifying who you mean in front of my grandmother? She says one of two things to you: “Do you have a mouse in your pocket?” – that’s if she’s in a good mood – or “Do you have a turd in your pocket?” – that’s if she’s pissed at you.

The internet seems to think this is a thing a lot of people say. I’ve never heard ANYONE else say this! Have you guys heard this before? I thought this was an Amy’s-grandmother thing!

You don’t want to cross her when she’s in a turd-in-your-pocket mood, no no no. My mom also says these things, but always says turd and not mouse. You can assume that means my mom’s always cranky, if you want. She’s not ALWAYS cranky, but you’re not far off the mark. Her sense of whimsy isn’t the most well-developed, let’s say that. However, it’s nice to have one whimsical parent and one practical parent, because you can’t eat DREAMS, you know? Of course you can’t. Also, genetically, it’s a win, because it makes me nice and balanced. I’m practically whimsical! Whimsically practical! Total win-win combo) if they’re closing early, but not all of them, so we’re kind of all left hanging with our asses in the wind about the ones that left without telling anyone.

So, there are a lot of people in the world. And all those people ALSO got out of work early. And what do people do when they get out of work early? Decide to get some shit done. And most of that shit (from my in-depth experience) seems to be CALLING EVERY PLACE THEY CAN THINK OF.

“YES. Work’s out early! Time to schedule my routine colonoscopy!”

Sample conversation:

Caller: Hi, I want to make an appointment to see my doctor. In October. It’s not an emergency.
Operator: I’m sorry, the office closed a little early for the holiday, but let me get your information, I’ll have them call you Tuesday.
Caller: WHAAAAAAT?
Operator: The office closed for the holiday. I’m sorry. But I’m happy to take a message for the office.
Caller: What do you MEAN they’re not open? I’m CALLING them! The recording said they were OPEN!
Operator: I know. I’m sorry. It’s just that it’s a holiday weekend, so they’re closed a little early.
Caller: BUT I AM CALLING NOW. THE RECORDING SAID THEY WERE OPEN NOW.
Operator: I know. I’m so sorry. But if you don’t need an appointment until October, they can call you on Tuesday. That should be ok, right?
Caller: THEY SAID THEY WOULD BE OPEN ON THE RECORDING THIS IS NOT FAIR.

And…SCENE.

What constantly amazes me is that these people were sent home early from THEIR jobs for the holiday, but HEAVENS FORFEND their doctor (or lawyer, or air conditioner repairman, or apartment complex) close a little early for the holiday. SHENANIGANS! SHENANIGANS!

Now, sometimes, people call with real emergencies. You know what’s funny? The people with real emergencies are the ones who are all, “nah, I don’t want to bother anyone.”

Dan-Aykroyd-as-Julia-Child wouldn’t have wanted to bother the answering service! (PS: true story. My old-school SNL crush = Dan Aykroyd. I especially loved him in “The Blues Brothers,” because of the suit. SIGH.)

Sample conversation the second:

Operator: Thank you for calling Dr. So-and-So’s office, how can I help you?
Caller: Oh, is this the service? I don’t want to bother anyone. I’m so sorry. So, so sorry.
Operator: No, no. Don’t worry. That’s why we’re here. How can I help you today?
Caller: Oh, well, ok, but, I’m not sure it’s really an emergency.
Operator: It’s fine, ma’am. Don’t worry. That’s why the doctor has an answering service. I promise.
Caller: Well, it’s just that, I was chopping vegetables and I cut my finger off? But I managed to stop most of the bleeding. I think it’ll be ok. No, I’m sure it will. I can wait until the office re-opens. I’m so sorry to have bothered you.
Operator: Um. Please let me take a message and have someone call you. Please. Please let me do that for you. And your missing finger.
Caller: Well, if you’re sure. I feel terrible to bother the doctor at home. He’s probably having dinner with his family! I’m a terrible person.
Operator: Please hurry and give me your information before you pass out from blood loss.

It never fails to make me giggle that the people that really NEED the service we provide are all “I am SO SORRY TO BOTHER ANYONE…but I’m miscarrying” and the shoutiest are all “I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT WHERE TO PARK WHEN I COME TO MY APPOINTMENT IN THREE MONTHS” and they call at 10pm. On a Saturday. And they’re angry (and confused) their doctor’s office isn’t open.

WHY AREN’T YOU OPENNNNNN?

Listen! The next time you call your doctor or lawyer or plumber and you get your answering service, be VERY VERY NICE. You could be talking to ME. You wouldn’t want to be rude to me, would you? No you would not! Be nice, jellybeans. The answering service people are working very hard and if you call them and you’re all peeved-like at your doctor or whoever, don’t yell at them. It’s not their fault. They’re doing their job and taking messages, like they’re supposed to. They’re on your side. Well, mostly. Unless you’re weird. Don’t be weird, ok? Being weird doesn’t get you anywhere. Except mocked once you hang up. What, you think we don’t do that? HA HA HA. Of COURSE we mock you if you are weird. DON’T BE WEIRD.

OK. I know. AMY THIS IS SO SHORT. Sorry, pumpkins, gotta get to bed. Work again tomorrow morning. Promise this will be back to normal someday with lazing around and such. Well, let’s hope. Also, Dumbcat’s all “NO ONE IS PETTING ME RIGHT NOW!” and that’s sad. Poor fella. He’s been alone ALL DAY LONG. Happy Sunday! Be nice to your answering service!

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

25 responses to “Oh, now I’ve done it. I’ve cut the dickens out of my finger.

  • sj

    Having worked phones for almost 10 years, I can confirm that there is much mockery. MUCH MOCKERY.

    Like

  • becomingcliche

    I haven’t even read the post yet, but I have to comment. The African soft-furred rat in your first image is maybe the cutest little mammal ever. Now back to my previously scheduled blog-read.

    Like

  • Bronwyn

    i rarely have to deal with answering services outside of my work stuff, but when i have to call for work i always warn them ahead of time… if someone doesn’t call me back within half an hour, i’m required to call back and leave another message. rinse repeat for 2 hours. LOL! poor answering service folk… there’s nothing they can do that they’re not already doing, but i have to leave a total of 5 messages before i can quit and just fill out my paperwork without having actually spoken to someone. MOST of the time it doesn’t come to that, but when it does i feel so bad for them! “hi! yep, it’s Bronwyn again. yep, if you could just… yes. thanks!! :D talk to you in half an hour!”

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      As long as you’re nice about it, I’m sure they don’t mind! I’ve never gotten cranky at someone who’s pleasant. It’s the people that start shouting for no reason, or take a weird attitude with you (i.e. “Oh, who are YOU, the SERVICE? UGH”) that make me looney. Or, OR, sometimes they ask me if I’m the answering machine. Yes. Yes, I’m the answering machine. HOW CAN I HELP YOU I AM A ROBOT. BEEEEEEEP.

      Like

  • becomingcliche

    If the answer to the question “Do you have a mouse in your pocket?” is yes, I would say the answer to the turd question is also yes.

    People are weird. That fact is confirmed most often at Wal-mart and phone centers.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Friends have been telling me for years I need to write a book about some of the calls I’ve gotten over the years at the answering service. I don’t want to get fired, so I won’t. Maybe someday, when I’m not working there anymore. “People are weird” sums it up nicely.

      I think the answer to “is there a mouse/turd in your pocket” is always *supposed* to be no. I always say yes, though. Because I’m obstinate.

      Like

  • lahikmajoe

    I have had a run in with a doctor and her answering service this week, and I think this is all good advice.

    If your doctor wasn’t a complete jerk.

    Who says for you to call her a week later on Thursday, and then doesn’t answer either of your Thursday calls and then is already on holiday when you call on Friday…

    If you suddenly get calls for my German doctor, I’ll be civil and polite. But that doesn’t excuse her being a jerk.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Don’t worry. If I happen to run across your doctor if she’s bon vivanting here in the States on her holiday, we’re going to have words, she and I. MANY ANGRY WORDS.

      If we answered for your doctor and I got your call, I would have tracked her down and made her answer your questions. Like a furious answering service ninja.

      Also, I bet you’re always civil and polite. You know that it’s not the answering service’s fault your doctor is a jerk. Who deserves to fall in an open manhole.

      Like

  • Kris Rudin (@krisrudin)

    Am I the only reader who assumed YOU had cut your finger nearly off?? I had visions of you needing medical care and not having insurance, and all kinds of awful things! Much relief that it was your caller. (But I certainly hope s/he did get some medical care, post-haste!)

    Whew!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I have insurance, no worries. It’s overpriced, but I’ve got it. Someone as clumsy and medically needy as I am can’t go without healthcare. I could get my finger reattached if need be.

      I do tend to encourage the real emergency callers to take themselves more seriously. There aren’t many of those, but when they happen, I make sure the doctors get their calls.

      Like

  • Rachael

    So I’m pretty sure I missed the sat insanity with you!!! That must mean I’m insane. In other news I spent some time at The Strand today. Amazing

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I missed you so much! But you should be glad you weren’t there – you can’t even imagine how nuts it was. I’ve never seen a Saturday like that one. 5 minute hold times…up to 20 calls on hold…MCP signed on from home for a few hours and put over 200 calls on hold over the length of his shift…we only had two dispatchers for 3 hours, me and Mark at 6, so we had 10-12 incompletes at all times…no one was doing review for 2 hours. IT WAS INSANITY. Today was better – busy when I got in but died off after a few hours so it was nice, and good people were there so it was a good (but late!) shift.

      YAY THE STRAND! So amazing, right? Don’t you want to just move right in?

      Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Was it not a blue moon the other night? Not sure what day this blog post is referring to, but the full moon was Friday I think.. Which would have made it a blue moon.

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    I’ve never quite understood that whole shouting thing. I don’t shout on the phone, even when angry. I might get rather a stern tone of voice though.

    But I’ve been told people shout, often for no reason what so ever. Fiancée worked at a service desk a while back and there was a lot of shouting and blaming the operator. The customers had usually already worked themselves up to a rage before even picking up the phone and then unleashed it on whoever answered.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Yep, that’s absolutely it. They’re furious at the situation, and need to vent at someone – and we’re the first person they come across.

      I’m not saying I’m an angel. I’ve gotten pretty heated with people who probably didn’t 100% deserve it on the phone. But only after I gave them EVERY OPPORTUNITY to help me. I’ve even said, “I work at a call center, I know you can get me a supervisor who can help me,” and things of that nature. I give them options. If they continue to be rude and unhelpful, I can’t be responsible for my actions. I have a short fuse and it takes every bit of my inner strength daily not to scream at people. It’s genetic. Or something I learned growing up. Or just my crankiness, who knows.

      Like

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