For a few fleeting months, I thought this problem was solved after I got a call from a marketing person at one of the local training colleges. Would I be interested in hiring a courteous, punctual, articulate young person who had undergone extensive training in front office tasks?
Before I could finish doing the Happy Dance, the marketing rep was in my office extolling the benefits of the 8 month training program. Each Rockstar Receptionist™ interned at a local hotel for a month - learning in the trenches! If a Rockstar Receptionist™ showed up late to class more than 3 times they were booted from the program! All Rockstar Receptionists™ manned the training college's front desk for a minimum of 200 hours!
"Halle-fuckin-lujah. I'll take ten," I thought, fighting the urge to fall at the marketing rep's feet and kiss the ground she walked on.
The next week, she brought a young man named "Felix" to meet me. If I agreed to employ him, his training would be subsidized by the government. Before signing, I asked if I could interview Felix one-on-one. The marketing rep wasn't thrilled, but she eventually consented.
Me: So, how are you doing, Felix?
Felix: I go training for company.
Me: Uh, ok. What work experience do you have?
Felix: I go training for company.
I called the rep back into my office and told her that while I was interested in sponsoring a trainee, it didn't appear that Felix had the communication skills necessary to be a receptionist. Not to worry, I was told. The English language component of the curriculum was so intensive that he would be fluent when he started working with us in 8 months. They all start out like this! So stupid, naive, fresh-off-the boat me took her word for it and signed up to sponsor Felix.
I started to get a bad feeling about 3 months into the program when I was invited to the college for a progress report. A horrific accident snarled traffic that morning and I tried to call the instructor to say I'd be late. But the guy answering the phones hung up on me. I tried a second time with the same result. On the third try, I was placed on hold and subjected to what can only be described as "circus music from hell" before again getting the shaft from the receptionist.
Arriving at the college, I saw none other than my man Felix standing behind the reception desk. Never to worry, I was told. Felix still has alot of training to undergo...blah, blah, blah.
Fast forward five months and Felix - newly minted Rockstar Receptionist™ - is now officially onboard full-time. He graduated from the training college with flying colors, "one of the most talented students in his batch" gushed one instructor. Seeing his esteemed credentials, our office manager placed him at the reception desk. An hour later my mobile was burning up:
"Dude, who the hell is that asshole that keeps hanging up the phone?"
"I asked the receptionist to transfer me to you and he put me on hold for 10 minutes, then transferred me to accounts payable, then hung up on me! I spoke to him in English and Arabic, WTF?"
I called the office manager and Felix into my office to find out what was going on. Felix explained that the callers "weren't talking properly" so he had no choice but to hang up on them. I told the office manager to get him off the phones and give him some photocopying work. I then emailed the training college to figure out what to do with him.
Later that morning, the office manager came by to tell me that Felix was AWOL. "Whatever," I thought as I turned back to my spreadsheet.
An hour later I was told a lady wanted to speak to me about Felix. Thinking it was someone from the training institute I told my assistant to send her in. A large, irate woman lumbered in - brow furrowed, nostrils flaring.
"Are you boss of Felix?" she bellowed.
"Um, I'm not his immediate supervisor, but how can I help you?" I said, sheepishly.
"I mother of Felix!"
"Ok. What's the matter?"
"You should not be mean to Felix! Felix is professional!" Momma Bear snarled, plopping down in a chair.
"I wasn't aware that I had been mean to Felix."
"Felix is professional receptionist! But you not let him answer telephone? You have no right for this. No right!" Momma Bear yelled, wagging her finger at me.
"Well, considering Felix was hanging up on every caller, I certainly do have the right to stop him from answering the phones."
"No you don't, bad woman!! He went training class for telephone. He is professional," she screeched as she banged on my desk. Momma Bear hissed like a snake and pointed her finger at me, "You are bad!"
|Momma Bear's on the case: |
Kickin' ass, takin' names!
You have got to be kidding me, dude! Sand Cat - my feline sidekick - deals with perceived maltreatment in a more emotionally evolved manner. (Her MO is thumping the offending party on the forehead...hey, at least she's fighting her own battles, playerhaters!)
|Sand Cat: |
"Come get your thumping!"
Felix, Momma Bear et al, the fact that you attend a training program means nothing to an employer if you are unable to apply anything you've learned. If you cannot put into practice that which you studied, then you may as well have stayed at home all those months playing Grand Theft Auto. One (or one's mother) cannot simply go around pounding his or her chest whilst exclaiming "Training course! Training course! Me went training course!"
Whew, now I feel much better. Hopping off soap box.