May. 17th, 2017

I got yet another Hot Business Tip here on phone etiquette– if you get a call on your cell and miss it and it goes to voicemail, maybe don’t just hit redial and when you get a business, say “WHO?” and when they repeat themselves, go, “WELL?” Because the odds are super, super good that the business has more than one phone line and more than one person who works there, and it’s real, real, real likely that the bewildered clerk who just picked up the phone literally has no idea who you are because they are not the person who called you. 

“Uh,” I said. “Uh is– there a– can I help you?”

“DID IT COME OUT?” the man shouted. 

“Did, what, excuse me– I’m sorry, sir, you’re calling [Store Name], can I help you?” (Which is a repeat of what I said when I picked up the phone, because I was so baffled I just restarted.)

“DID MY ORDER COME OUT,” he shouted. 

“Wh– who are you?” I asked, utterly lost. I don’t do phonecalls in real life, I just do them at work because there’s a basic script I can follow at work. Except for shit like this. There’s no script for the followup to a WHAT apropos of nothing.


“I,” I said, fishing desperately for something to ask. “Why?” I settled on, unhelpfully.

“BECAUSE YOU CALLED ME,” he yelled. 

“Y– you called me,” I said, “j– just now, I just–” and then it dawned. “Did someone maybe just call you and leave a voicemail?”

“OH I DUNNO,” he yelled. Thanks, guy.

“I bet someone called you from this establishment and left you a voicemail about your order,” I said, feeling like Sherlock fucking Holmes. 

“OH MAYBE,” he yelled. “THE THING IS I REALLY HOPE THOSE PHOTOS COME OUT, I SURE DO, THEY’RE FROM–” and he goes into his life story. 

“I’m not the person who left the voicemail,” I gently interrupted him to say. “I actually have no idea who you are or what you ordered. If you hang on a moment, I can either get your name and look up your order, or I can try to figure out who did call you, but I need something to go on, here.” Besides your life story, I do not say. 

By this point a coworker had come up behind me, phone still in his hand– fresh off leaving a voicemail, as it happens. “Is that [Name]?” he asked me. 

“I don’t know,” I said. To the customer, I said, “Hold on one moment, I have a coworker who I think knows who you are.”

For the record, the guy literally never told any of us what his name was, beyond “Mike”, but my coworker had worked on his order and was aware of what it was. (For the record the guy had taken a bunch of photos on a camera with no memory card, and was under the impression that we were going to somehow be able to recover those unsaved photos from non-existent internal storage. The answer, in short, is “no”. I try to be understanding about people doing things that seem stupid if you have a working knowledge of the technology, because i can’t read an analog clock so I know there’s always shit that seems obvious that really isn’t from a different perspective. But like. Manners do rely on everyone having some kind of common consensus, and you gotta start somewhere, and not expecting other people to be psychic is a pretty good starting place.)

Respectfully, to anyone here who’d like to have less frustration on the phone, I submit: When making a business call, try leading with your name and a two- or three-word summary of the subject of your call! Yelling WHAT isn’t really very helpful, even if I had known anything about your order. 

Thanks, have a great day!
“Asking why rappers always talk about their stuff is like asking why Milton is forever listing the attributes of heavenly armies. Because boasting is a formal condition of the epic form. And those taught that they deserve nothing rightly enjoy it when they succeed in terms the culture understands.”

Zadie Smith (via





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