Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Reception Hell

For about a year-and-a-half, I haven't had to post about the frustrations of my employment--once a daily feature of this blog--because I enjoyed where I was. I worked at the city Law Branch in the Expropriation Department. Some of you may not know what Expropriation Law is. Essentially, when the City wants to build an LRT line or a really retarded arena for hockey jerk offs, and your house is in the way, we expropriate it. We pay you fair market value for the house and property, pay your legal bills. The City will even pay for your move. The work was dull, but I adored the seven lawyers I worked with and considered myself lucky to be in a stable, busy, productive environment. It was also gorgeous insulation from the petty madness and rampant sense of entitlement that typifies the General Public.

Upon my return from the U.K., I was reassigned to a different department. For three weeks, I've been working with that arm of the Law Branch that deals with brain-dead fucktards who think that the City owes them money because their snow shovel broke while they were shoveling. Or who take exception to the fact that City trees shed seeds or leaves onto their lawn, therefore the City should remove said seeds and leaves. When I first started in Law, I enjoyed my time in criminal law, and my new position is similar in that it allows me to marvel at the many, many ways in which people repeatedly make Poor Life Choices ("By all means, Repeat Offender, beat that cop car with a baseball bat! Kick in that window!"). More and more, I think a good portion of humanity should not be left unsupervised.

I would be okay with my work if it meant I only processed the claims submitted to us and could remain at arm's length from the Body Public. Unfortunately, one of my duties is to occasionally fill in on Reception/Switchboard. This was not mentioned to me when the new position was offered. Had anyone even breathed the word "Reception", I would have declined. That's a deal breaker. And I have been very honest and upfront with everyone (supervisors, et al.) regarding my feelings about Reception. I have explicitly said that this is Not A Good Idea. I don't deal with whining or attitude in a constructive manner, I'm too old to give a shit anymore and I hate people. 

My first experience on Reception yesterday only reinforced my conviction that this is a perfectly reasonable response to dealing with the public. I spoke to probably a dozen people who are only alive because breathing is an involuntary process. If these people ever had brains, they have since dried up through inactivity and now rattle around in the brainpans of their owners like bb pellets in an old coffee can.

Time and space do not permit me to enumerate all of the paralyzing stupidity I encountered yesterday, but Stupid Broad #1 went thus:

SB#1 : Hello, I want to stay married to this man even if he does not come here.
Me: I'm sorry, what?
SB#1 : My husband, he is coming here, but I don't know and I still want to be married to him. (sniffles) I'm sorry I am crying so much now.

Me: (after significant pause, cuz I dunno what the fuck) Ma'am, we are a Municipal Law Office. Your issue sounds like Immigration. That is a federal concern.
SB#1 : You are Law.
Me: Ma'am, if you have a parking ticket, I can help you out. Otherwise, I'm going to give you the number to the Law Courts up the street, okay?

I was amazed by the lack of accent attached to that call, by the way.

The kicker though, was Ancient Vagina. Ancient Vagina called three times yesterday, and was by turns rude, petulant and stunned. She had sand in her vag because she had received correspondence from our office (two weeks ago) that we needed documents from her due yesterday. And she wasn't able to speak to her adjuster, because said adjuster was away from the office. And, of course, no other adjuster would do.

It was pretty clear that Ancient Vagina had spent about four centuries honing her douchebaggery to a very fine skill. And when I tried to help the old bat by asking her for the claim number, she started to give me Old Lady Attitude. But I was having none of it. I don't get paid enough to put up with that shit.

She was desperately unpleasant (although she mostly backed down when challenged, I still wanted to punch her in the throat so hard that her head would fall off), and later that afternoon, she appeared upstairs at the office door. This is a secure office and there are notices posted all over the joint that visitors are to report to Reception on the floor below (where she would have encountered ME). But no--Ancient Vagina slid her document under the door and waited. Eventually, one of the clerks sent her away.

Today, Ancient Vagina phoned her adjuster and got *her* so riled up that we heard the adjuster yelling at her across the floor. I never raised my voice to Ancient Vagina, so I guess I did pretty well.

But when my supervisor asked me how it went on Reception, I flatly said, "I hate it."

More to come, kids. It's an interesting office.


Vicki Bryanton said...

Not that I want you to work in hellish situations...but the amusement it creates for us - your rabid fans- seems worth it on end.

Keith said...

Once upon a time the world was a dangerous place. The unlucky died. The stupid died, though not so often as might be wished for. The stupid AND unlucky died in droves. Consider that people today are the survivors of people lucky enough to live long enough to breed. Were Darwin to have considered this, he might have re-thought evolution, or refined the model.

Now, however, the world is a much safer place. There are some prominent exceptions, such as the USA, various parts of the Arab world, and parts of Africa. If only your reception area was to become such a place.

Keith said...

Keith's better half says: Ah yes, the joys of the GP. While working in the Finance area for Roads I interacted with the District Clerks & Bylaw on a regular basis. The clerks used to post the 'best' stupid comments of the day on their whiteboard. Always amusing (if mind boggling) to read what people actually asked/said. One goodie that sticks in my memory was the caller who asked 'Can't you pre-plow?' when calling in to complain that the streets were not yet plowed at the height of a snow storm. Somehow this person seemed to believe that if we only ran the plows over bare, dry pavement in advance of the storm, that it would somehow magically ensure that the snow WOULD NOT accumulate or stick to the previously bare, dry pavement.

I feel for you - any time I've been on the phone with multiple clients (I started with the City in 1981, answering calls for Calgary Transit - which was a real eye opener about how people interacted with City services) I too have been stunned by some of the thought processes (or lack thereof) of the callers. I don't suppose you can transfer back to your previous area? Linda.