Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Phone

I don't know if any of my colleagues enjoy callbacks. Personally, I get nervous calling someone back. What if they ask me something I don't know? (That's a rhetorical question. In fact, if someone asks me something I don't know, I will generally say "I don't know, let me check and get back to you." But I don't like it!) I do enjoy teaching things to people who are both interested in the subject matter and intellectually capable of grasping the subject matter quickly - but unfortunately for me, it seems my client base is not largely made up of such individuals. I therefore end up teaching things, or attempting to teach things, to other types of people, and to put it as politely as possible - I simply do not enjoy it as much when that happens, so, I generally dread callbacks, because I never know who I'm going to end up talking to - even if I'm calling someone I know, often, a third party answers the phone, after all.

That aside, here's a list of things that drives me crazy about phone calls:

1. "The person you are calling has not yet set up a voice mailbox. Please try again later." Really? In 2012?
2. "The number you have reached has been disconnected. Please check the number and try again." This is almost NEVER a data-entry problem on my end. I'm just saying.
3. I call, the phone is answered by a person who says "what do you want?" or "who is this" or some other vaguely hostile non-greeting. I say "Hi, I'm Dr. VBB, and I'm calling about Jane, is this Ms. Dogowner?" and the person responds "Ms. Dogowner? You think I'm a woman? FUCK you, bitch!" and hangs up. Honestly, I feel terrible about making such a grievous error, but I am but an imperfect human. Perhaps if the person who answered the phone did not take such high doses of anabolic steroids, he would have been less aggressively reactive AND maintained a more masculine sounding voice. I'm just saying.
4. I call with lab results, and the owner becomes so hysterical that I am unable to get even halfway through them, and they aren't even that bad. I try to be sympathetic and I always preface any "bad" results with the caution that "this might sound bad, but we have a plan to deal with it," if possible, but some people will hear that their dog had a weak positive on a Lyme antibody test and freak out beyond all reasonable belief. Then I have to be the asshole who has no feelings and has to get off the phone with a crying person so that I don't end up three hours behind in office visits.
5. The chatter. Sometimes, the recipient of the phone call is such a Chatty McChaterson that I wonder if they realize to whom they are speaking. Of course God forbid one of these people shows up for an appointment and I am running five minutes late because I was trying to be polite to Chattina McChatful on the phone that day.
6. Having to give bad news. That just sucks all around.

I could go on, but I've got to go make some calls.


  1. Oh I hate the phones. I do it for a living for an airline and it's the worst job I have ever had but hopefully soon enough I'll be outta there. I could write a blog about all of the stupidity that happens over the phone but I don't want to live these moments again.

    I simply hate when I have to call and customers say "what do you want? I'm busy call back later". If you are busy why did you answered the phone in the first place? And NO. I ain't calling you back so you better call us.
    Or this guy that answered the ph and said "I'm out of the country vacationing unless this is Extremely important you can hang up right now" I said "it isn't extremely important so good bye" and I could tell he was going to say "wait" but too late, don't mess around with me mister.
    Or the lady that called so angry because her flight had changed time and she got to the aiport super early, well we tried calling her 3 times but the line was disconnected. Or this other customer who adds to his reservation 123 456 789 as his ph number.
    I hate the chatters to. I just want to get the crap done so I don't really care you want to change your flight because the mother of your best friend's wife changed her tea party because her niece got sick.
    I hate people.

  2. My least favorite is when I leave a detailed message, outlining their pet's issue and possible treatment options, with a request for them to call back and tell me what they want to do. Then they call (usually on my lunch break when I might have actually been able to leave the building for a few minutes) and they haven't listened to my helpful detailed message. They just saw I called (several hours ago) and thought they'd call back to see what I wanted. So I must go through the whole thing again. Sigh.

    1. YES!!! Super annoying. Listen to the message, if you have questions after that, call me back. Otherwise I've just wasted time I could have used to each lunch or return other phone calls.

      Problem #3: I simply say "Hi, this is Dr. ___ from ____ calling about Fluffykins..." and wait for them to either continue the conversation or grab someone else. I've made the Mrs/Mr mistake before and felt like crap about it but people really should realize that it can be difficult to tell over the phone.

  3. In response to problem #3 I usually will ask "Is there a Ms. or Mr. Dogowner available?" to avoid this problem, we have a lot of man/women voices and women/man voices. I HATE the disconnected numbers that call back and act like you never tried to call them and get all angry about it. Well if you had let us know your number changed we wouldn't be in this mess!

  4. Or !) when you get a message that their "voice mailbox is full!" WTF? Geez.

    (2) Or when you are in the process of leaving your detailed voice mail message and the other line started ringing and it's them! I just want to say, "Answer the phone when it rings, dammit!"

    (3) You have to "enjoy the music while your party is reached" and you have to listen to their stupid rap song or country song (and it's way too loud).