Friday, March 02, 2007

Day 42: Usual Annoyances at the Front Desk

Given the fact this blog was christened ‘The Usual Stuff’, I’d like to talk about that usual stuff going around my workstation, which happens to be The Front Desk.

Many people tend to believe, in a totally misinformed conception, that being “the receptionist” is a petty, unimportant, two-bit, sub-servient, low-status, any-man’s job, which only indicates how little importance we give to those apparently intranscendental* tasks that usually go unnoticed but happen to make life more comfortable, just like house keeping. It is commonly believed, as I mentioned before, that ‘anyone can do it’, so it is waged in consequence, and people who end up performing these jobs are regarded as mediocre, although the degree of preparation, experience and good attitude both require is usually ignored by most employers. Therefore, whoever outstands the regular performance is normally acquainted as either a shoe-licker or a total freak, thus gaining them people’s loathing, instead of their applause, which happens to be one of the usual annoying things I've found about it.

In addition to the situations I listed on a previous post, I would like to mention some other Usual Stuff that I have found highly irritating in this job:

1. Telephone sales: no day passes without receiving at least 5 phone calls asking for people who don’t work with us anymore, trying to sell credit cards. No matter how many times you tell them they must stop calling because they’re jamming the ring central, the same out-bound call center will call at least twice the same day.

2. Cookie monsters: one of my duties is to set the snack-and-drink service when my boss schedules meetings, and a cookie tray is set for that. Whatever I do to prevent it, there’s always one smart-ass who picks the cookies, leaving the obvious blank spaces on the tray, thus causing my boss to get mad at me, because there never seem to be enough cookies for the visitors.

3. The unpunctual visitor: tardiness is part of Mexican culture, so I’ve learned to live with it. What I can’t stand is these people who want to make a good impression by getting to appointments half an hour early. They cram the reception (which happens to have 3 damn chairs), they get in everybody’s way and they keep asking every 5 seconds if the person is already available. Sorry, but that is another form of unpunctuality.

4. Personal phone calls: I understand that sometimes it is necessary for our family and/or friends to reach us at work, but I really go berserk when I receive 8 phone calls a day (and there’s written proof!) from a girl’s boyfriend exactly at the moment when really relevant phone calls are hail storming over my head. In order to be fair, I must say that my family has strict instructions to call me to my mobile. Whenever this happens otherwise, I also jump at their throats.

5. Background music: we are supposed to have music all day long in the internal speaker system. To my despair, the selection tends to be must unfortunate, such as the awfully chaotic jazz music my boss loves, or the crappy, low-life-style ‘banda’ music my co-workers favor when the bosses are not around. Having that noise piercing my ears while I try to concentrate on a customer’s call, especially if it is in English, can really drive me psychotic.

As a form of conclusion, I would like to mention, in order to be fair with both sides of the story, that not all the receptionists are precisely saints. As a customer, I have also suffered the blatant incompetence of receptionists who seemed to have been placed at the front desks just because of their good looks. Women who are chatting, putting up make-up, chewing gum, smoking or answering personal calls right on the visitor’s face do not help improving the low perception this position has in the job market. In order to be honest, I must confess that all my complaints regard those situations that prevent me from fulfilling my duties with the high quality both my bosses and my clients deserve.

*If you happen to find any spelling mistakes, please feel free to correct me. I’ll sincerely appreciate it.


david santos said...

This work is very good
Thank you

the usual stuff said...

david: thanks a lot for stopping by and for your nice comment. I can't help but wonder why you thanked me.
Tried to visit your blog, but unfortunately, I don't speak Portuguese. Thanks again!!

AsH said...

The stereotype of the receptionist is very misguided! Nice blog i see youve been commenting on my friend's blog -james. Anyway jus having a look round enjoying the literature, check out my blog if ya want!?

Jingoistic said...

I was once a receptionist for a dental clinic.

It was not easy work.

the usual stuff said...

Ash: tnx a lot for your comment. I promise to pay you a visit and include you in my route.

Jingo: I concur: it is NOT easy at all, specially when you deal with that ammount of people. Puah!

kyklops said...

I don't have a business/company, but if I did, I would want the receptionist to be the most professional member of my staff. He/she is the first person that clients will meet and first impressions are very important in business and in all aspects of life. Sounds like you deserve a pay raise!

the usual stuff said...

I couldn't agree most, but unfortunately, my company already considers they're paying me too much =(

Axel said...

Thanx for the comment on my blog.
Your job seems like a dreadful one.
You must have high spirits...

P. Drāno said...

Maybe you could persuade the bosses that in a company of your size the receptionist needs to have his or her own receptionist.

the usual stuff said...

Axel: it's only my stubornnes that has kept me here. But I'm already on the look for another job where my enthusiasm might be appreciated.

p.drano: ja! you should see my closest co-worker's face when she's asked to take my place. No-one is willing to put the elbow-grease it requires, not to mention pay for it.