I like to think that I can keep my cool in stressful situations, but I will admit that once my buttons have been pushed a time too many, I just can't hold it in. Case in point: I am the only full time zero operator for the Florida Dept. of Health. When you call the DOH for a question about your paramedic license, I'm the first person you talk to. When you call us to complain about the mold in your apartment, I'm the one who answers "How may I direct your call?" When you call to tell someone about the botched plastic surgery your wife got, or how they're going to take out half of your small intestine if you don't get your meds and you'll have to wear diapers for the rest of your life (and you're only 26! Wahhh!), I'm the miserable soul who then transfers you to the office that ACTUALLY deals with whatever the hell your problem is. I'm required to know *just enough* about all of these unrelated health issues to get you to the right person. That means I don't have your special file in front of me, I don't know the Medicaid office's P.O. box and I sure as hell am not required to google it for you. Seriously, someone actually said to me (after trying to transfer them to the office in question for about 5 minutes...) "You don't have a book or something with addresses in it... you could AT LEAST google it for me..." No sir, I don't have a special book where the answers to everyone's questions magically appear; and if you think I'm going to google an address for your lazy ass after you were that rude to me, you've got another thing comin' to ya.
And for those who call and ask for "Sarah or Sally... something with an S, she sits next to Bob the guy who handles, uh... ya know, Sally, imblex testing, implex..." (it's NCLEX - National Council Licensure EXamination testing and I still would need to know what type of license it's for) I could never know enough to get that guy to the right person.
I wonder, are there just more stupid people in this world than I assume? And are all of them given DOH's main line and told, "Here, this is your own personal complaint hotline! Call it any time to blather on about nothing in particular!"? Is it so hard to understand that when you call a state agency, the first person you talk to is not going to be *the* person you need to talk to?
All I ask for is a little patience and sympathy. I try my hardest to help people who are confused, to transfer people swiftly to the department they need to talk to and to find alternatives when the person they need mysteriously isn't taking any calls and doesn't have their voicemail set up. In Tallahassee alone we have about 10 different office buildings; I don't even know how many we have total in Florida. My directory has thousands of names and each person is responsible for updating their own contact info.
In the end, sometimes the only solution is to laugh. Like last week when an elderly chap called and asked to speak to Gloria. I asked if he had her last name or what department she was in. "No! Gloria! She works in your office! Gloria!" he yelled at me. I told him we have many different offices and that if he told me what it was in regards to maybe I could get him to that office. "Her name is Gloria! I want to speak to her! Gloria!!" We went back and forth for a few minutes during which he insisted that I just yell out her name because she is in my office (and then he yelled "Gloria!" at me again I assume as demonstration). I was tempted to just scream "Gloria!" and then tell him oops sorry she must not be here today, but I didn't, and eventually he told me he'd call me back and hung up on me.