Tuesday, October 16, 2012

EXCELLENT TELEPHONE SKILLS

     We get lots of calls from vendors trying to sell us books we can't afford. Nobody has any money right now, ESPECIALLY the school I work at, because we get no "special funding" whatsoever. But vendors don't back off, even when we let them know we haven't any money to spend.
     The Teacher Librarians used to have to take all those calls, since they were the ones who technically placed the orders. Which meant I (as a humble Library technician) was used to just passing the phone to the Librarian and not having to deal with the stupid vendors.
     Now that we have no site Librarians, I'm stuck with stupid vendor calls, and today I had a particularly awkward one.
     I've never pretended to be good on the phone. It is not one of my strengths. I HATE talking on the phone. When I answer the phone at work, I say, "Library," in a whaddyawant?! tone. My coworker friends have always made fun of me for it. They say things like, "No shit," or,"You are NOT a library. You are a human being," or they just imitate me saying "Library" in a drawling nasal tone that does NOT sound anything like me.
     When it is suggested that I try to nice things up a little by possibly adding, Good afternoon, or How can I help you, my response is, "I will not."
     I'm pretty sure I'm engaging and kind in person, though. Even solicitous.
     Anyway, this afternoon when I returned from lunch break, the phone rang. There was a lot of background noise because students were pouring into the library, which made it hard to hear. This is how the call went:

ME:  Library.

CALLER:  Hi, I'm _____ from _____ Publishing, and I (something unintelligible).

ME:  (Impatiently) What?!

CALLER:  Hi, I'm _____ from _____ Publishing, and (I wasn't paying attention and missed it).

ME:  Are you trying to sell me something? Because if you are you should know that we don't have any money, and even if we did you should really speak to the District Librarian.

CALLER:  Is there a number (unintelligible)?

ME:  Her phone number? I'm not sure what it is, actually, and I... Bye.

     I abruptly hung up the phone. What was THAT? I asked myself, puzzled by my own abrupt dismissal of the stupid vendor. Had I meant to hang up suddenly, like that? Was it a seizure? Then I realized I was probably just tired and didn't feel like explaining YET AGAIN our lack of funding, etc. I don't OWE these people anything.
     Was I lying when I said I didn't even have the number of the District Librarian? Not exactly. I think I do have it somewhere, but it would involve hunting around. Besides, the District Librarian's last name is unusual and difficult for people to spell, and I always end up having to repeat myself loudly about 10 times before they get it.
     Like I said, I don't owe these people anything.
     Good day, sir.
   

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