Thursday, March 27, 2008

Professionalism

I had the best day. I helped stock trout. I had a crew cab full of folks and we followed the fish truck from site to site, and hauled buckets of trout to the creeks. They told you to throw them way out into the water. I didn't have the heart to do that. By that point, I'd begun to feel kind of maternal about them. I waded out into the water to pour them out of the bucket gently. Until the current nearly ripped the bucket out of my hand and the lid went floating away, snagged by another guy with a bucket of fish further downstream.
****************
It felt good to be outside again after a winter cooped up in the office doing office-type work, behaving all professional-like.
Well.
Pretty much professional most of the time.
Usually.
Except for that time I answered the phone.
The man requested to speak to my boss.
So I said, "And can I tell her who's calling?"
(Very professional don't you think?)
He said, in a jaunty voice, "Well, you can tell her it's her mystery lover."
Realizing that it had to be her husband Matt,
who was a fellow known for his outrageous sense of humor, I replied in kind.
"JOHN!! Heather's told us soooooo much about you."
And Matt laughed.
Now in my defense, I'd like to point out that I started this phone conversation in a most professional manner, until Matt got all unprofessional, so I think that's excusable.
But then there was the second call.
A couple days later, I answer the phone and a man asks to speak to Heather.
I recognize Matt's voice.
I cheerfully sing out in a most unprofessional way,
"Shall I tell her it's her mystery lover?"
Long pause.
Way too long.
Then the voice says, "Um. No. Don't tell her that."
I realize it is not Matt at all.
Now mind you, Heather is reaching for the phone, and she's got a big smile on her face because she believes she's about to be speaking to her honey.
"Heather, it's not Matt."
She looks at me with a grin.
She knows I'm a big kidder.
"I'm serious, Heather. It's not Matt."
Her grin starts to fade. "Who is it?"
"Shit if I know, and I'm not asking, either."
Chairs slide back and heads peer around partitions.
Quiet gasps, whispers of 'what if its a commissioner?'
Heather answers the phone.
It is a a good natured soul from a friendly agency who realizes that the longer he's on hold, the more hysterical we are. He's roaring by the time that Heather cautiously says, "Helloooo?" And he tells her, "Really should get a handle on your staff." And the next time I see him, Wes tells me a story about a previous director who answered the phone thinking he knew who was on the other end. "What's up dickhead?" Yeah. He wasn't talking to who he thought he was talking to either. Luckily the guy from DEP had a good sense of humor as well. Wes is like that. He always tries to make you feel better about your screw ups.
********************
Long story short...I'm very professional on the phone now. I don't assume I recognize anybody's voice. And I'm professional around the office too.
Well.
Pretty much professional most of the time.
Usually.
Still, it felt great to get out in the field. I forgot how wonderful it feels to be running in the fresh air, working, and laughing with others, swapping stories, viewing nature close up. It's going to be nice to get back to my outside job, get away from the office.
It'll probably make my boss breathe just the tinsiest bit easier as well.

4 comments:

Alison said...

Sounds like a gorgeous day!
Doesn't having a laugh make your soul feel lighter? I think so, anyway.
Great phone technique! So glad the mystery lover was a good sport.
I was answered the phone to who I thought was my (very serious) brother in law, "Look, it was fun and all, and don't get me wrong, it was good.. I mean like WOW good.. But I'm married. Happily married. There's just not room for a fourth right now."
And I wonder why my mother in law and I don't get along...

Mary Paddock said...

ROFL! But only because I feel your pain.

The office secretary once called to me from two rooms away to tell me that "Gary is on the phone and has a question for you."

My husband. Just the guy I wanted to talk to. I spun around in my chair, hit line one and said cheerfully, "Hi Sexy."

"Uhh. Mary? This is Jerry" replied one of my very surprised 4-H parents.

Did you know your blood pressure can go through the roof and the floor at the same time?

After that, I never, ever failed to give my professional stock opening to all conversations no matter what I thought I heard her say.

Just exactly what do you do for a living Debby? It sounds fascinating.

jeanie said...

ha ha - reminds me of the time I temped in a government office for a while.

A call came in for the director - in answer to the "may I ask who is calling" he gave me a name I recognised, so I said "no problem, Steve, just putting you through."

After which I remembered why I knew the name - he was the government minister for the whole area. Oops!

debby said...

Mary, I'm the West Nile Virus coordinator for my county. I trap mosquitoes and ship them to Harrisburg. I also do treatments and public education. In the winter time when the mosquitoes take a break( :^D ) I do environmental education of all sorts. This was an activity that a fellow set up for the teacher naturalist volunteers that work with us. I'm the luckiest person I know. My last job was a six year stint on third shift, doing customer service for a local company. I hated my job, but when you've got kids in college, you do what you have to do. I did it. Now I've got a chance to do what I want to do. Not everyone gets that chance!