Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Manners are a dying concept

   I was going to write something today on how I have been busy and excuses for not writing. Then I had a short conversation with my boss and how we both agree that courtesy is a dying concept. The health department I work for is a "full service" health department. We don't have doctors, believe it or not health departments do not always offer medical care. We do however have an immunization clinic open to the public. My position is a dual job. My main duty is to work the front desk while my secondary position (and the funner one) is working in vital records (birth and death certificates). So my main duty forces me to deal with all the clients from all our different programs as well as answer the phones.

     I am a model of customer service. I have been to hours upon hours of training and for the most part I never lose my cool. But, sometimes there comes along that special kind of customer that you just wish you could beat over the head with the heaviest object at hand. My biggest peeve is the client who comes in and refuses to end their cell phone conversation so that you may effectively help them. Yesterday a lady came in and paused just long enough to tell me what she was there for before going back to her public cell convo. I calmly and unhurriedly got together the proper paperwork hoping that would give her enough time to get off the phone so I could go over the process with her. I finished and held the clipboard in my hands and then I stared at her and tried my best to non-verbally communicate to her that I needed to speak with her about the paperwork. Instead, this woman reaches across the counter, grabs the board and yanks it out of my hand then walks off without once breaking stride in her conversation. I looked at my partner in crime and my supervisor (who witnessed the entire thing) and said "How much do you wanna bet she won't fill anything out right and will try to bring it to me instead of taking it to the immunization clerk?" Sure enough, five minutes later she brings it back to us and when we told her to take it to the clinic and place it in the tray so our clerk could get the paperwork, she gets all offended and points at me and says "She never told me that!" then storms off. I cannot stress how annoying cell phones in public are. It is not that hard to tell the other person that you need to hang up because you are in an office. If it is an emergency then please take care of it before you come up to my desk. It is rude to treat me like I am an automated machine.

   Speaking of phones, when I was growing up I remember being made to watch a video at school on proper phone etiquette. Now of course it was extremely cheesy as all school videos are, but we did learn how to properly answer a phone and also how to communicate over one with a business or person. We do not answer the phone with a "Hey dude" I reserve that for my personal phone and only on people I am extremely close to. When speaking to a business it is proper to introduce yourself and in a quick proficient manner tell them what you need from them. It is not proper etiquette to tell me how sexy my phone voice is when I ask you what our health department can do for you today, there are 1-900 numbers for that. It also is not proper to demand our hours in a rude tone then to slam your phone down without so much as a thank you. The biggest thing I can't stand when someone calls in? Calling me for a phone number then pounding it in to your cell phone as I give it to you. People, that makes a god awful beeping in our ears! I finally got snarky enough with one person who did that, that she hung up on me. She asked me for the number, I give her the number. As she begins saying it back to me the horrendous BEEP......BEEP  begins. I stop talking and hold the receiver away from my ear. It takes her a minute to notice and then she says "So did I get that right?" My reply was "I really don't know ma'am, there was this loud beeping in my ear and I couldn't hear a thing you were saying to me." She hung up pretty quickly.

   So while yes, I do claim to be a model of customer service, I will be the first to call a customer on their BS. Yes, your business pays my check. Yes, without you I would be out of a job. No, you are not allowed to treat me or my colleagues as if we are less than people. I am the first to call BS on that saying "the customer is always right" crap. No, sometimes the customer is just an asshole and it is because the technology that has given us so much is taking from us the ability to communicate to each other in a courteous manner. That sense of anonymity that gives us the freedom to say what we want on the internet is trickling over into our everyday manners. So next time you walk into a business or call them, make sure you are really speaking to the person on the other side of the counter or phone. We appreciate it more than you know. We really enjoy speaking to someone who is fully committed to our exchange, no matter how trivial the matter. Also, please don't do something that you wouldn't want us doing to you. My plan on the phone, is that the next time someone starts to pound in a number while still talking to me, I too will start pounding random buttons as well.


  1. I remember my mother taught me two things about phone etiquette: 1) Let it ring 6 times and then hang up. 2) Introduce yourself with first and last name when calling someone unfamiliar.

    I absolutely can not stand when someone calls me and then simply says, "Who am I speaking with?" Introduce yourself, state the reason for the call, and THEN you may ask to whom you are speaking.

    Manners matter!

    1. Yeah we get that alot too, I always say "Who is asking?"