Friday, 16 December 2011

Who, What, Where?

Sigh. It happened again. Except this time, it was much worse. And this time my supervisor heard.

It was the middle of the afternoon at the Distress Centre and perfectly quiet. Well, mostly quiet. I was reading. The other three volunteers were doing something or other to keep themselves amused. Then the clocks struck three o'clock.

I'm telling you, some really incredible TV show must have ended at three o'clock or something, because the lines went from perfectly calm to insano-nutso in a matter of a couple minutes. Next thing you know, all four of us were on calls. Next thing you know after that, all four of us were juggling calls. Then we started forgetting where we parked each call and we still had more calls coming in.

It was during this mayhem, as my mind was trying to keep track of multiple things simultaneously (and I'm not particularly good with multi-tasking) that I made my error. Part of my brain switched off and fell back onto that tried, true, and over-used greeting:

"Hi there, welcome to Tim Horton's. My name is Carla; what can I get for you?"

Yes, the caller got confused. So did I, because I didn't actually remember what I had said, and was wondering how the caller knew my name. I generally use an alias and don't offer it up in the first breath. So I briefly debated denying what I thought maybe I said then opted instead to ask the caller what I had said my name was. Eventually I admitted that I was named Carla, but I'm not sure the caller believed me at that point because I sounded so uncertain. I mean, I was pretty sure by now that I had my name correct, but I was still hoping vainly that I hadn't also said this was Tim Horton's.

Trying to recover, I asked the caller how I could help them. Came the reply:

"You're the one who needs help if you can't even remember your own name."

Perhaps they're right. I seem to be having trouble remembering where I am and to whom I'm speaking lately. At Timmy's this morning I took the order of a customer at the counter and told her, "That'll be six-forty-five at the window."

She just gave me a look and replied that she could throw the money at the window if I wanted, but that she sure wasn't going outside in this weather.

Bah. At any rate, after I got off the phone at the DC, I turned around and asked my supervisor if he had heard how I started that call, as I still wasn't quite sure how badly I'd messed up. My supervisor seemed a bit uncertain at first, too, but when I admitted that I thought I may have used my Timmy's greeting, he immediately broke out into laughter.

"Yes!" he exclaimed, waving animatedly. "You did! I heard it, but I thought, 'No, she couldn't have said that!' But you did! You did!" By this point he was holding his stomach and definitely not helping anyone focus on their tasks at hand. And it was no less funny when, two hours later, my shift finished and he doubled-over in laughter all over again.

I don't know whether I'm reassured or not that several other volunteers then told me that they occasionally answer their cell phones with "Hello, Distress Centre."

Ah, me. Whoever said that the Distress Centre is all serious?

Just goes to demonstrate that you don't need to worry overly much about saying the wrong thing to a suicidal person. I'm pretty sure my blunder didn't kill anyone, though I may have died a bit on the inside, myself.

“I'm not saying anything. I didn't say anything then, and I'm not saying anything now.” Dukhat from Babylon 5


Mom said...

This cracked me up!!! :)

Bri said...

Bahahaha. I totally understand. Hopefully the person wasn't in too much distress and it made their day instead.

Art said...

I am sure it confused the caller. If you were the 9-11 operator and said that, it would have been real weird. Funny story.