Dr Smiter’s Guide to Telephone Etiquette

Dr Smiter has had some very peculiar jobs over the course of her adult life.  There was the time she answered an ad, supposedly placed by a “well-known writer,” who turned out to be a sad, smelly one-armed man attempting to self-publish books of execrable poetry while living in his mother’s basement.

There was the stint at the specialty bookstore, owned by a couple of angry lesbians, where I spent at least part of every day being chased around the displays by the more mannish of the pair, who wore what looked like a Louisville slugger taped to the inside of her thigh.

There was the amazing few days I spent as an assistant in the Prime Minister’s Office during the 1988 Economic Summit in Toronto, during which I met Margaret Thatcher (YIKES) and spent my afternoons drinking free beer and counting the snipers arrayed around the top of Roy Thomson Hall.

One of the strangest, however, was that of switchboard operator for a smallish technology company in Mississauga, a position I filled for about five months during 2005.  The following was written just several weeks before I’d finally had enough, and just moments after a fellow had walked, wild-eyed, into the front lobby, leaned over my desk, attempted to grab my blouse and shouted “You geev me CHOB!!”, prompting a bit of a scuffle during which Security did a fantastic Chob of ejecting this guy back into the street like a Frisbee.

Two items of note here: I have always wondered why callers say “yes” after the company they’re calling has answered, as in “Hi, this is Fluffy at Bell Canada, how can I help you?” “Yes.” (This is obviously a fictional example, as every Canadian knows Bell Canada neither answers their phones nor tries to help its customers — fodder for another day.)

The second item of note is that the fictional names given here were supplied to me by my friend Pam, who helped make my days much more fun by actually calling the switchboard and asking for the people in question. Just say the names out loud if you’re wondering why this is funny. All will be revealed.

Finally, I do apologize for presenting you with what is essentially a recycled piece of work, but I have just returned from a spin/core class, led by a woman named Sue (which I believe is Latvian for “tank commander”) who also trains women’s hockey teams (!!). As such, I feel a pressing need to curl up somewhere warm and safe for a little while and move as few of my muscles as possible, while emitting low moans and keeping my next-of-kin’s number close at hand.

Enjoy.

Dr Smiter’s Guide to Switchboard Etiquette

Bothered by boneheads?  Troubled by twits?  Tearing your hair out after hours of fending off telemarketers & crybabies?  Well, follow the tips in this handy-dandy guide to Switchboard Etiquette and your woes (not to mention your job) will be only a distant memory!  We have made every attempt to cover all possible scenarios and situations – if we have missed anything, however, please call us.  Really.  Pick up the phone and call.  Call now.  We are at your service. Ignore the evil laughter.

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller: Yes…

Operator: No. [hangs up]

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller: Yes…

Operator: What do you mean, “Yes”?  Did I ask you a question?  Did I ask, for example, “Are you calling the Smegma Corporation?”  Did I ask, “Does your nose look like a pineapple?”  Did I enquire whether you are currently the featured felon on “America’s Most Wanted”?  Did I?  DID I????? [begins to scream and babble here]

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller: (whining) I just tried Ben Dover’s line and he’s not answering.

Operator:  Well, that’s hardly a surprise, given that he’s currently unlatching his jaws to ingest a 22-pound Butterball turkey, complete with the trimmings, cutlery and table linens.  Shall I have him ring you when he’s finished?

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller: I just called Myra Mains, and she’s not picking up her phone.

Operator: Well, given that it’s what we here on Earth like to call the “lunch hour,” Myra is probably eating her lunch.  Shall I connect you with her voice mail?

Caller: No, I want to speak to a live person!

Operator: Well, I’m terribly sorry, sir.  I didn’t want to say so, but Myra is actually the only surviving employee of this morning’s popular Company Suicide event.  Would you like to drop by for some grape Koolaid later on?

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller: Hi, how are you today?

Operator: (sensing Telemarketer) …[low moan]  Ooooooh, I’m so glad you asked.  No one here really gives a damn about me.  [loud sniffle]  My hemorrhoids are the size of grapefruits this morning, and I haven’t had sex since the Eisenhower administration. I’ve got bunions and crabs, my breath smells like doody, and my husband just ran off with the plumber…. Hello?  Hello??

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller: Hi, how are you today?

Operator: (see above)

Caller: (persistently) Tell me, do you folks use a courier service?

Operator: (stunned silence) My God… no, we don’t! [smacking forehead]  You know, we have our sales reps carry each piece of merchandise on their bare backs down the highway on foot!  Good God… think of the time and money we’ve been wasting!  No wonder this company is going down the toilet.  [sobbing]  Thank God you called…

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller: Hi!  How are you today?

Operator: [holding tongue] Fine, thank you.

Caller: I’m calling to offer your company a month’s worth of free carpet cleaning, at the low, low —

Operator: [interrupting]  Oh, thank God you called. [lowering voice, looking furtively around]  Can you get blood out of a rug?

Caller: Uh… well, we…

Operator: I mean, lots and lots of blood.  Seriously.  And drapes.  Do you do drapes?  Oh man… this is really bad…hello?

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller: [chewing something that sounds like a tire rim] Cnn Rr sprk tm mfff gmp?

Operator: I’m sorry, sir.  There seems to be a sandwich on the line.  Please call back later.

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller:  Good morning, ma’am.  My name is Mike Hunt and I’m calling on behalf of some bogus research firm to take up half your morning with ridiculous and trivial questions aimed at extracting company emails and fax numbers from you for the purpose of bombarding each and every one of your employees with meaningless misspelled ads for products they don’t want until the day they finally commit mass suicide just to get away from our nonstop badgering!  Do you have a few minutes to spare?

Operator: [lighting a doobie, putting feet up on desk]  Sure, why the hell not?  The switchboard is only the main point of entry for all incoming calls to our 275 employees, but I’d be glad to kick back here and tie up the entire corporation’s nerve centre for the morning with a bit of chit-chat!  Now, where shall we start?

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller:  I called 10 minutes ago and left a message with Harry Bolz, and he hasn’t returned my call.  Is there a live person I could speak with?

Operator: No, I’m afraid not.  There is no Harry Bolz, and there is no Smegma Corporation.  You, sir, are the unlucky victim of a simple yet far-reaching practical joke involving a false ad in the Yellow Pages, an offshore telemarketing firm, and myself, an inadequately-paid stiff with a cell phone answering calls from knuckleheads like you in an abandoned Esso station in Fargo, North Dakota.

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller:  (snottily) I’ve been calling Hugh Jass all morning and he has not returned my calls.  I’d like to speak to him in person, please.

Operator: (equally snottily)  Well, I’d like a crapper made of solid gold and a month-long vacation in the Turks & Caicos with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, myself, but that’s just not going to happen, now, is it?

**********

Operator: Good morning, Smegma Corporation.

Caller:  Yes.

Operator: I agree.  [hangs up]

"Nyello, Mrs Motors. Is the General in?"

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