It's All About the Journey

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Telephone Girl

Reminiscing about the telephone antics of Lily Tomlin’s operator, who never got the messages right,, we laughed as she garbled, played with her blouse, and squished up her nose in a prim and proper manner.  Funny, and we all got the message.

Recently a telephone call resulted in what could have been disaster, had the patient been less than of an intelligent caliber.  Patient calls the doctor.  Who gets a real person these days?  He left a detailed message on the answering machine.  He stops by the office, waits 45 minutes.  “Mr. C, here is your prescription. Thank you for waiting.”  The prescription was for a sleeping medication, not for blood pressure.  Apparently the Spanish translator couldn’t translate the English message correctly, so she guessed.  

This is a good example of EOE.  I am absolutely livid over this, and this isn’t even about me, it’s about someone else.  Hold me back, brother, hold me back!  I love “foreign” language just as much as the linguist, but when you make a mistake like this, it can cost someone their life.  Not only their life, but the physician’s life, because he relies on his staff, he is not a one man show (believe it or not).  Lives are ruined.  This person needs to be back on the unemployment line for an error like this.  

You want someone who takes a good telephone message?  Hire me!  I can’t do Excel, I’m not good at Microsoft Live, but hire me to answer your telephone.  This is what you will get:

“Good morning, this is Kate Sparrow of Furs’ Unlimited, to whom am I speaking?” (write it down)

“What company are you representing?” (write it down)

A number where you can be reached?” (write it down)

“Message please?” (write it down)

Then you write down the time of day it was recorded.

This whole incident reminds me of a story.

Back in my twenties, I was the back up secretary to Mr. Smith, who had several corporations, all run from one building, for some of the companies (in another state), operation was from this “remote” location.  Mr. Smith was a very hard man to work for, he ran a tight ship and had expectations of all of us, and if you screwed up, you had to face Mr. Smith.  I was trained to answer the telephone in this manner, take down all of the above information, hand it personally to Mr. Smith (he didn’t use the intercom), and explain the best you could, and he would take the telephone call (or not).  The gentleman calling stated he was from “the XYZ Company.” (Really? I couldn’t believe there was such a company, but I wrote it down.)  It was regarding furs his wife had ordered.  I took the information to Mr. Smith, he looked at the message and took the call.  Now, everyone reading this knows by now that this was a bogus call.  Next, I heard Mr. Smith ranting at this man, “I cannot believe you would call me with this message!  Just to talk to ME personally!  I will not deal with you or your company EVER!”  The telephone message was stamped BULLSHIT and filed (we filed EVERYTHING).  

But, dear friends and collegues, this is how you take a telephone message.  You want information?  Hire me.  I won’t do you wrong.  I will take care of you, your business, and be careful with your money.

There are many more stories about Mr. Smith and his tight ship. Stay tuned.