Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I need a personal assistant

I have a phone at my temporary cubicle.

I am convinced it is in case my supervisors forget where I am, and they can just call the extension and follow the sound of the ring through the cube maze. Like office Marco-Polo.

It rang today, twice. Well, thrice if you count my first attempt to answer it.

It is one of those complicated sorts of office telephones, with 44 individual pressable buttons on it (I counted). Only some of them are labeled. It also has one of those shoulder-rester attachments on the receiver (it's practically a "hands-free" set!) which I think I am going to purchase for my cell phone. I will just also need to purchase a larger handbag.

Anyway, around 11:00 it rings. Loud. This is a quiet office, and my phone is blaring. It's like it's an alarm announcing that I am new, and I don't know how to answer the phone.

You know there is a problem with the way you are answering a phone when it is pressed up against your ear and it's still ringing. I try to take the little-kid-in-an-elevator approach and just mash my flat palm against as many buttons as I can, but, the caller has hung up by now.
I am mildly disappointed until I realize no one I want to talk to has this number, anyway. I don't even have this number.

It rings again about fifteen minutes later. I panic.
If it really is for me, how am I to answer? I need to sound professional, but somehow also manage not to sound like I know what I'm talking about or they might ask hard questions. Not to mention this isn't even usually my desk....
"Good morning. How can I help you?"
"Hello...yes, I work here."
"Super Software Company how may I direct your call?" No no, I can't sound like a secretary!

I sense I am running out of time, and the frantic ringing isn't getting any quieter, so I just pick it up and press a button that looks promising.
This is around 11:00 in the morning, and I don't realize until I try to say "Hello" that I haven't actually spoken to anyone since waking. It is an embarrassing rendition of the word, with a little whisper at the beginning and a dollop of phlegm round about the second syllable.

"Oh. Hello.." A woman's voice.
"Who's this?"
"Oh, I- I'm Jessica." I am a little kid intercepting a phone call for her mother.
"This is my desk now," I attempt to assert.
"I'm sorry, I'll try again."
"Not a problem."

Another minute passes, and it's ringing again.

"Hello, this is Jessica." Good one.
"Oh I'm sorry..." Same lady.
"Who are you looking for?" (Yeah right, as if I would know or could find them...)
"Dave Smith."
"Oh! Oh, I know where sits!!" I really do! "I think he's in the next cube over. Hold on."
"Oh, just tell him to call his wife."

So much for not sounding like a secretary.

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