Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not Happy With Your Job? Get Your Mommy to Yell at Me!

Keeping Fuckwittery, Inc.'s reception desks staffed is a perennial problem. The average receptionist's tenure is comparable to the lifespan of a fruit fly. Finding people who communicate effectively, are polite, report to work on-time and are willing to work is a tall order.

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!
Oh Felix, you pathetic little twit. You spent 8 months studying how to answer telephones, yet emerged unable or unwilling to do so. I kindly gave you a less intellectually taxing assignment, which you decided was not sexy glamorous enough for you. So you literally run home crying to mommy???


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!"
Friends, please indulge me while I jump on my soap box for a moment:

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.


  1. Hahahaha oh dear, that's hilarious. What were your parting words to send Mama Bear away?

    We had two students come to us after having a years training in a not-particularly-challenging-subject at a college here (the Ministry "asked" us to take them on after their training) and they barely knew how to switch on a computer. Good times!

  2. "Me trainee lawyer, very good English."

    "How do you spell e.g. the word 'legal', which you must have heard before."



  3. Loola, I gave Momma Bear a watered down version of my soap box speech. She did concede that Baby Bear hadn't told her he was hanging up the phone on everyone. Sorry to hear you all had the same misfortune with the graduates. I certainly learned my lesson and will not be hiring anyone on a speculative basis anymore.

    AZ, that is just beautiful. I laugh, but with my luck my firm probably has LAGELL EAGELL on retainer.

  4. "LAGELL EAGELL" disappeared a while ago after having invited me - unsuccesfully - to a remote location in the interior to shoot at Mountain Dew cans with M16s (BTW I found this a very odd attempt to date an Expat). He's probably working for your company now!

  5. HAHAHAHAHA!!! He told his Mommy on you?!?!!

    In all honesty though, my mom would've done pretty much the same thing if I'd ever 'complained' about mistreatment. Mommy power is crazy!!

  6. Thanks for the great post! It reminded me to get off my fat dragon ass and do a post about this.

    More! We want more!

  7. AZ, Lagell Eagell's date sounds like the premise for a Wes Craven movie. Yikes! I'm glad you declined!

    Terry, I'm gonna venture a guess that you are capable of answering phones and way too cool to go complaining to your mommy if you couldn't.

    Thanks, Mr. Dragon! And thanks for your employer CYA advice on your blog. It sounds like good process, similar to what companies back in the "real world" follow.

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  9. At my job I get addressed as 'Dear bro' in some e-mails.

    fuck my life.

  10. I run a training institute - and I am mortified by the standards of students I send out to unwitting companies!!! (though I doubt they're in the dark for very long!)

    For a while - particularly when I was at the coal face teaching, I really made an effort - but from where I am now - there's very little I can do!!

    I try to kick trainees off courses - and get told 'no can do' - the trainees know we can't do anything to them - so they do what they like - and then we have to give them the diploma - or else we don't get paid!!!

    I just remind myself that this is not my home - and there are enough problems back at home with education and training to keep me busy without worrying too much here in Sand Land. Love your blog!! But I'm not getting any work done!!!

  11. We interviewed a guy for admin assistant. He could hardly speak engish (although it was a pre requisite for the job) and when asked if he knew what the job entailed he said, and i quote.... I am assistant for Manager? okay which manager we said, he said "mr admin" Interview terminated not long after. Thing is i can find kids in mcdonalds and other places that speak fairly good english but they never seem to be invited by HR to interviews? Probably becuase they dont have the dreaded "diploma" in IT or some other crap.