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The Joys of Being a Front Desk Receptionist

I work as a receptionist at the front desk for a very large title company. You know; mortgages and stuff like that. We have closings in our office from time to time. Today there are three on our floor. A[n extremely unattractive] woman came up to my desk and said she was “here for a closing”, and then proceeded to rattle off a whole list of names of people who were meant to be in the closing; none of whom are actually employees of the company, so I didn’t recognise a single name. I asked her if she knew who was holding the closing so I could call them for her and she rudely replied [as if I were asking some crazy, outlandishly presumptuous question] that she had no idea who the closer was. Um…. okay? I then told her the three names of the people who are having closings this afternoon. She continued to gape at me blankly as if I were an idiot. I then started calling closers willy-nilly, and when I reached one of their assistants, “Beth”, I explained our little dilemma. She immediately told me she’d be right up to help me sort it out, bless her. The client was no nicer to poor Beth than she was to me. Needless to say, Beth didn’t have much more luck figuring out where Ms. Pleasant was supposed to be than I did, especially since every suggestion she made in the hopes of earning a lightbulb “Aha! Yes that’s the one!” response was instead met with a rude, “I don’t know!” Well I was a bit distracted by other receptionist duties while Beth played the process of elimination game, but eventually I think she narrowed it down and the two walked away in the direction of the meeting rooms as Ms. Pleasant scoffed in condescending incredulity something along the lines of “I’ve never heard of anybody not knowing…” though her voice trailed off in the echoey elevator lobby before I could hear the end of her sentence.

Well lady; I know where I’m supposed to be…. Beth knows where she’s supposed to be… Seems you’re the only genius here who doesn’t know jack, and you’ve got the nerve to snipe at us? Way to go someplace and have no idea what you’re doing and where you’re going! [Note: I realise the aforementioned fact that she was excessively unattractive is technically irrelevant to the situation, but… I thought it was noteworthy nonetheless.] [Not to mention her outfit made it look like Dolores Umbridge’s closet threw up on her. *gag*]

After depositing Ms. Sunshine in her respective meeting room, Beth returned to my desk on her way back to her cubicle and asked “Was she being a really big [fill in the blank] to you too?” I just gave her the wry “mmmmmm hmmmmm” smirk and rolled my eyes, thanking her earnestly for her help as she rounded the corner.

As long as I’m complaining about the quirks of the job…

When you answer phones all day you develop very specific pet peeves about it…. Like people launching into a big long explanation about why they’re calling immediately after you’ve answered, not letting you get so much as a single peep in until after they’ve finished their entire 10 minute spiel. Whoa, buddy, I don’t really care to hear about your life story; I’m just the receptionist. All I can help you with is a transfer to the right department and a wholly insincere “have a nice day.” I can’t look up your case number, I can’t fax you your paperwork and I haven’t got have a clue what those technical terms mean, now for Heaven’s sake be quiet so I can transfer you already!

Also annoying are people who ask you “how are you doing?” before introducing themselves. It always catches me comletely off guard… This isn’t a personal call, buddy! It’s just so awkward. And there are two different types of “how are you doing?” callers: The first type is that guy who asks and then waits– however long it takes– for you to respond before proceeding with the conversation. This is highly irritating when all you’re trying to do is hurry up and process the call as quickly and efficiently as possible. Especially when you’ve got a switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree and three people waiting at your desk to talk to you and the FedEx guy waiting for you to let him in the back door to deliver packages to the mail room and several inter-office ims flashing on the bottom of your screen, and ol’ boy on the phone’s trying to have a heart to heart with you– “how are you doing?”??

Type two is the guy that asks and then doesn’t even pretend to wait for you to respond. Why even bother? It’s infinitely more rude to ask and blatenly not care than to not ask at all… Really we’d just rather you not ask at all.

There is a time and a place for everything, people. Next time you speak with a receptionist on the telephone, don’t ask her how she’s doing. We both know you couldn’t care less about how I’m doing. And I sure as heck don’t care about how you’re doing, so don’t expect me to ask “…and you?” Is it just me that thinks it’s unprofessional all together? Okay, I’m not nearly as bent out of shape over this as I sound, but I’ve had several more “how are you” guys today than normal .

Then there are the people who call in with horribly quiet phones, or unbelievably bad reception. And then they get mad at me when I can’t hear or understand what they’ve asked for and need them to repeat it. Look, buddy; it’s not MY fault I can’t hear you over the deafening roar of static on your broke-a** phone, where the heck are you even calling me from, Timbuktu?!

The next type of caller is my least favourite of all: the unprepared caller. You can always tell who these ones are immediately. From the very first syllable she utters in that distracted, space-cadet tone of hers, you instantly know you’re in for a conversation that will more than likely take at least twice as long as it ought to, neither of you will have gained anything from the conversation at all by the time it’s over because she’s a total air head and your clairvoyance skills aren’t what they used to be, and you’ll probably hang up the phone feeling infinitely less intelligent than you were when you picked it up several minutes earlier. [Note: The unprepared caller isn’t always an air head… intelligent people get distracted/forgetful too… but that doesn’t make these types of calls any less excruciating.] The unprepared caller is that person who, when you’ve prompted her with your standard über-cheery “Good afternoon, thank you for calling _________, how may I help you?” she responds with “……………Hi…..ummm….” (perhaps distracted as she scrifts around for a pen in her luggage-sized purse, or is attempting to maneouver her school bus-sized suv as she takes the kids to soccer practise, or perhaps she’s at her desk trying to get some work done and doesn’t realise that her multi-tasking skills are simply abominable) “…yeah I’m looking for….um…..” Do I need to remind you of the Christmas tree switchboard, three clients, FedEx man and handfull of unanswered im’s flashing their little hearts out for attention…? Yeah.

Listen, lady; You’re the one that called me, remember? Not the other way around. And yet here we are and you’re completely caught off guard and can’t tell me who you are, what you’re calling for and with whom you’d like to speak. Stop wasting both of our time: hang up the phone, finish whatever it is you’re doing and call me back in a few minutes when you’ve got your act together.

I think you get the point. (I still attest to the fact that I am not nearly as surly about these things as I’ve made myself sound, mind you…) I could probably come up with a million more things that I adore about being a receptionist, but… I’ll spare you. I think that was a sufficient amount of venting. I feel much relieved.

me: This post is taking forever to write

me: I keep getting interrupted.

Jellybean: more poo?

me: nah, it’s about my job this time lol

Jellybean: lol your job is interrupting your blogging about your job!

me: don’t you love the irony?

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2 Responses to “The Joys of Being a Front Desk Receptionist”

  1. You deserve a medal! This is so true!

  2. YOU ROCK!
    Keep up the good fight, we’re all in this together!

    **HUGS**

    –Michele D.


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