Friday, September 20, 2013

Hanging on the Telephone

Part of my job involves talking to old people and service providers on the phone. This might seem funny to those of you who have talked to me on the phone and heard me doze off after about three minutes or have waited on me to return a call, sort of knowing in the back of your head that it ain't never gonna happen.

But I'm professional and courteous, and get called "Hon" a lot.

One morning I helped one of our customers with his account. This happens fairly regularly - people want to change the frequency of the mailings, or change one of their selections, or want to re-listen to something they had years ago.

After the usual small talk, we get into it.

"Well, I'm looking to see which ones of the Jedi series I've read before. I know I'm about halfway through with one series and WOULD YOU KEEP IT DOWN, YOU BITCH? I'M ON THE DAMN PHONE!"

I was pretty sure this previously nice old man wasn't talking to me, but something had obviously tripped this switch over to Hyde mode.

I don't like being around people getting yelled or yelling. It always reminds me of being at a friend's house as a kid while they got in trouble and you just had to sort of sit there and act like you're not hearing anything. On the funny side, when he screamed, he sounded remarkably like the angry dad  in the D.R.I. thrash classic "Mad Man."

"Just a second, please. I TOLD YOU I'M ON THE DAMN PHONE! WHY CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT? So, I think I finished all that New Republic stuff, but I can't remember. Could you see what I've read?"

"Uh...yeah...uh..certainly. It looks like you did finish most of  --"

"YOU GOT ENOUGH MANURE IN YOU TO FERTILIZE ALL OF KANSAS! YEAH, YOU KNOW IT ALL, SURE YOU DO! Say, do you have "Dune" on digital yet or is it still only on tape?"

This went on for a few more minutes, him screaming at some unknown person, returning to me as a nice old man, me looking up book series for him, and neither one of us acknowledging the screaming. Should I say something? Should I ask if he needed help? These are were all great options running through my head as I ignored the yelling and finished the call.

I found out later that I did the right thing by ignoring the problem - he's been calling for years and almost always gets into it with whoever he's sharing a house with. As always, my strategy of ignoring problems and having good telephone skills continue to work like a charm.

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