Posted in receptionist ramblings


I’m sure I speak for receptionists everywhere. You know who we are. We have those earphone thingys jammed in our ears and the microphone thingys make us look as if we should jump up on stage at any moment and start singing. We are the switchboard operators, the person you call to get transferred to the person with whom you actually wish to speak because you forgot their direct dial number and the switchboard number is just easier to remember. Hey, that’s why we’re there.

I came up with this list today because I get frustrated with people who don’t know how to behave on the phone and this venting just helped somehow. Some are serious, some are funny, and ALL have happened to me! (But not all have happened at the church where I work) The moral of the story is: Be nice to the person you’re calling. Avoid the following and you are likely to get transferred to the person/department you actually want instead of a random recording.

X) When you call while you’re getting out of your car please (I’m begging you) first remove your keys from the ignition… I can hear that beep, too, and because I have an earphone thingy jammed into my ear, it’s usually louder than you think.

X) If your kids are screaming in your ear… they’re screaming into mine, too, and see above about the earphone thingy.

X) Please, please, please, turn down your radio before you make your call… and see above about the earphone thingy.

X) Don’t continue a conversation with someone else while you are waiting for me to answer. Chances are, you’ll still be talking when I answer and when I start talking you won’t hear me. Thus confusion ensues for you and frustration ensues for me.

X) If you’re in your car and it’s raining really hard… not only should you NOT be using your phone and driving… I won’t be able to hear you over the pounding rain. Remember, when you call me, I have that earphone thingy jammed in my ear… blah, blah, blah.

X) Speaker phones are really annoying and you sound like you are at the end of a tunnel and probably drunk.

X) Know what, who, why and what you are calling for before you dial my number. Be concise and to the point. I do not need your life’s story. I do not need to know that you knew so and so on staff when they were in college, that your dog just did a no no on the floor, or how many cuss words you know. All I require are the reasons you called for in the first place. The four people after you waiting for me to answer their call don’t want to know your life story either.

X) For most companies who have multi-line phone systems, the company’s main number is likely the one that will show up on caller ID. If the person who called did not leave a message, please don’t call the number and ask who called you from that number. The receptionist will not know and since the person didn’t leave a message, you are wasting everyone’s time. Yelling at the receptionist for not knowing which person on a staff of 250 called you will not help. If it really means that much to you, call Dionne and her psychic friends and then call me back.

X) Please… try to finish chewing before I answer and please wait to clear your throat until you hear the hold music. Earphone thingy jammed in my ear…you know the rest.

X) Please, please, please understand that Mr. Gehpaidtumutch is not sitting at his desk waiting for you to call him and neither is his secretary Yesther Fakke. People do get up to go to the bathroom. They have meetings. They eat lunch. They talk to other people on the phone. Get over it. Voice mail is your friend. Leave a message there. Embrace the technology.

X) I’m begging you… make sure you know you are dialing a fax machine before you push the go button. The blood running out of my ear after receiving a fax call is just not attractive. Remember, most receptionists have that earphone thingy…

X) Please don’t wait for me to answer and then hang up in my ear if you think I’ve taken too long to answer the phone then call back 10 seconds later to prove your point.

X) Lo siento no habla Espanol and I haven’t learned it since the last time you called.

And, while I’m at it, let me add some of the odd calls I’ve gotten since being a receptionist at a rather large church. You learn a lot from people on a certain “wavelength.” For example:

Virgins have supernatural power. One lady (who calls often and more than one of these are hers) called and said that she needed prayer because she was a virgin and she wanted to have children someday and that wasn’t going to happen if she went to jail… because… the knife only missed the bad drunk man by inches and the knife was still stuck in the door. She was afraid because virgins have supernatural power and she would probably hurt him eventually and therefore never have children. (Don’t worry, this woman is institutionalized and isn’t where she can actually hurts people… the thing is… we’re not sure how she gets to a phone).

God knows where the Windows XP recovery disk is and I should ask him and report back. A lady called and asked me to pray and ask God to help her find the Windows XP recovery disk she had misplaced. She said I should ask God where is was and get back to her when he told me. Then she hung up without giving me her phone number. Of course, God hasn’t told me where it is yet, so I guess having the number wouldn’t help.

George W. Bush is a Nazi. After all, his book was next to the one with the swastika on it at Borders.

What, are we neutral now? The moral of the story is… don’t fly white wedding flags during a war. There was a major wedding at the church the weekend after the Iraqi War started. One of the things that you can do is fly white flags down the main sidewalk as a part of your wedding decor. I’m not kidding, more than one person called and asked if the church had taken a neutral position on the war and they were outraged. Even after I explained the whole wedding bit these people were not satisfied. Finally I just said they were for lent and people shut up. Baptists don’t do lent, but apparently a spiritual explanation is better than a nupital one.

Censor, in a Way (35 Across) One morning, a little old man sitting at a table doing crosswords with his friends at Wal-Mart called me and asked me a crossword question — after all, receptionists apparently know everything.

I could go on and on… I have so many stories. Perhaps someday I should write The Receptionist Diaries or something…


I seek to live, breathe & work creatively. Late bloomer. I survived breast cancer and so much more. I will meet each challenge w/determination, badassery & sass!

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