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I’m Sorry, He’s In A Meeting

Last week I was receptionist at possibly the world's busiest recruitment agency. Reception is a dirty bitch. You can't swear when you hang up the phone, and you have to actually do you hair in the morning, you must smile and be polite, you can't nick off to the bathrooms for a nap without anyone noticing. All day long the "candidates" traipse in, all scrubbed and awkward in their suits, CV tucked under their arm. They look so full of hope, or so painfully desperate, not knowing their handiwork will most likely be transferred to the cobwebbed place where CVs go to die. Of course, there are some grubby little buggers that don't deserve a job. If you can't be bothered to bathe or chisel the crumbs and cat-hairs off your pants, then I can't help you. But for the most part I'm extremely sympathetic, knowing I'll be in their boat at the end of the week. And some people try so hard that you want to give them a big cuddle. Like the sweet old guy who just got made redundant after 45 years, or the apologetic middle aged woman returning to work and confessing that she's scared of computers. One guy came in with smouldering looks, thick Spanish accent and three years experience fixing vending machines. I perused his CV. Interests: extreme sports, reading, salsa dancing. "We're actually only looking for office staff," I explained sadly. But I've got a job for YOU, baby… oh yes. Armed with an incredible three days experience as a recruitment receptionist, I was snapped up by different agency this week. This place is mercifully quieter. I sit at my desk with a little security television beside me, watching the world outside. It's been raining, and I can see the windscreen wipers on the cars, people wrestling with their umbrellas or picking their undies out of their arse cracks. There's three different businesses in this building, so there's three different entry buttons outside for visitors to press. So I sit here watching them squint at the nameplates, hoping they don't press my button. Please don't press my button, I silently urge them. Please. In much the same way I glare at the phone and will it not to ring. Why? Because every bloody time I can't understand who they're asking for or what they want. These accents have me stumped. I ask them to repeat it, but it's all Blah Blah Blahdy McBlah to me. "Archie Jones on line two for you!" I trilled to the manager this morning, only to find out later it was actually her Aunty Joan. People should just send e-mails, or write letters, or send good old fashioned smoke signals, it would really be much more convenient for me.

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


10 thoughts on “I’m Sorry, He’s In A Meeting

  1. I feel for you — in my temp agency days I, too, knew the horror of reception work. Considering I really enjoy making faces into the phone, it wasn’t an ideal job for me! *grin*

  2. Oh Shauny, my empathy just went into overdrive!

    I too have worked in phone-based jobs before, but unfortunately, I’m a little bit deaf [like, as a post]. I forgot to tell them that bit.

    So I nod, smile, go ‘uh-huh’/’yep’/’certainly’ then hang up and realise I have no clue what was said, and can’t pass on any messages.

    A deaf receptionist is about as useful as a proctologist with Thalidomide fins.

  3. Pussycat, I guess that it takes a special kind of man to push your buttons, firstly they have to be able to read… Now where did I leave my thick Spanish accent and smoldering looks

  4. So, how goes your sister’s life (since I distinctly remember something about you going cause she was gonna go)? And I’ve found out that willing something to happen doesn’t work like in movies and books. Every time I look at something and think Come on now, spontaneously combust! Spontaneously combust!, nothing ever happens….ahwell, I guess no spontaneous combustions pour moi =P

  5. Archie Jones… hee hee!

    I used to live in Scotland, so I know exactly what you mean. It was the rising intonation that got me, though. One time I answered the phone and thought someone was asking if James (the landlord) was upstairs. So I went all over the flat asking if anyone knew if James was upstairs. Turns out it *was* James from upstairs.

  6. Bleagh, I hate reception work! I haven’t had to do it since Employment Training back in 1992/93 (though, come to think of it, I might have done a little in 1995, but that whole summer job was naff anyway). It’s just turmoil. Mostly mental, but still turmoil.

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