On Fridays at work there aren’t many people in the office, and so today I was asked to cover the phones as the regular receptionist would be out. I used to answer the phones at my old office no problem, but I knew that clinic inside and out. After working at my current job for almost a year I still know little about bankruptcy and who handles what in the office. So answering the phones makes me nervous.
The first 30 minutes this morning were OK, but then the flood of calls came as it always does. In between them all I also had a coworker, Betty, trying to explain to me how to handle payments received. She was my witness to the phone madness.
In the midst of this I got a call from a sweet old woman from New Orleans named J.M. who works in our office, and who, for the record, I think is adorable. But when it comes to her food and beverages, she doesn’t mess around. So amid the flurry of phone calls, she asked me desperately, “Do you know who made the coffee this morning?!”
“No, I don’t,” I replied calmly, hoping that my soothing voice would have an effect on her.
“Well then can you page whoever it was that made it to call the kitchen because I don’t know which one’s regular and which one’s decaf!!”
She sounded desperate, so even though I didn’t know how to page I said that I would. But as soon as I hung up with her another call came in, and then another. I got nervous thinking about J.M. standing by the phone in the kitchen, worried and forlorn, wondering if I had forgotten about her.
When finally I had a chance to attend to her request I first had to figure out how to overhead page. Betty (still standing by trying to explain the payments to me) didn’t know. I saw a button on the phone marked “All page” which I thought was promising, so I tried it.
“WILL WHOEVER MADE THE COFFEE PLEASE CALL THE KITCHEN, EXTENSION 3455?” I said into the phone. “Did it go through?” I asked Betty.
“I don’t think so,” she replied.
Plan B was to ask Shirlie, another woman in the office who I knew had answered the phones before. But when I asked her, she told me she would call me back in a minute after asking someone else. I thought to myself that when I agreed to this paging thing I didn’t realize it was going to be such a complicated procedure. Shirlie called back a minute later and said, “Press ‘All page’ and then ‘7’.”
So I tried again. This time I heard a beep overhead and static in my ear. “WILL WHOEVER MADE THE COFFEE PLEASE CALL THE KITCHEN, EXTENSION 3455?” Then, “Did it work that time?”
“I think so, I heard the buzz,” said Betty.
But a second later Shirlie called me. “Try again; it didn’t go through.” I sighed. Now people were calling out to me from across the room.
“What did you say?”
“It didn’t work!”
Many minutes had gone by since J.M.’s original request. Was this even worth it? But then I thought of how cute she is, so I gave it one more go.
“WILL WHOEVER MADE THE COFFEE PLEASE CALL THE KITCHEN, EXTENSION 3455?”
Two more people walked up to my desk.
“We couldn’t hear you.”
“What about the coffee?”
I patiently explained my quest to them.
“Oh, I made the coffee,” one of them said, “and I already talked to J.M.! I told her they’re both the same.”
Seconds later someone else walks up. “What’s wrong with the coffee?”