Well folks, today marked the end of my career as a receptionist for the Iowa City Parks and Rec department. Sigh. Through this job I learned a lot about the Iowa City area and all the activities offered by the city, but my biggest take-away has been how rude a lot of people are to city employees. I have worked in customer service before, but it was at a bank, where most people are civil and rarely complain. So many people think that because they pay taxes they are the “boss” of city employees. If you are one of these people, please reconsider your status.
My main tasks as a receptionist were to answer phones, sign kids up for activities, and reserve park shelters for customers. Most of these tasks went by without any major bumps, but at least twice a day I would endure a lecture from a loving citizen of Iowa City. The topic of these lectures ranged from how bad I was a snow removal, how dirty I let the pools get, how bad a person I was for charging $31 for swimming lessons, and on and on and on. Typically the rants would begin before I could even say “Iowa City Recreation, this is Sara.”
I want you all to know that I am not opposed to voicing complaints. In fact, when done appropriately I feel they can be quite effective. However, I was not in charge of snow removal, pool cleaning, or the price of swimming lessons, so screaming at me does little good. I have become an expert at getting yelled at for things I have no control over.
The point of this post is not that I hated my job. I actually didn’t mind it and the people yelling and screaming and cursing at me didn’t really bother me. I wasn’t personally offended, but I do think they made themselves look like fools. A couple of months ago Mike called the Cedar Rapids P&R department to reserve a softball field. I could tell he was getting testy with the receptionist on the other end of the phone so I said, “Please be nice, pretend it’s me on the other end of the phone.” I too am guilty of getting impatient with customer service reps but have learned that getting upset with them isn’t going to solve my problem, it just makes me look /feel like a grouch. So I guess my advise would be… if you’re calling to complain, pretend it’s Sara on the other end of the phone. 🙂 (Hopefully none of you would want to yell at me 🙂 )
Most days I would come home with a ridiculous story to share with Mike so I thought I would share some of my favorite phone calls:
“I just heard the City Park Pool is closed for mechanical failure. Are you kidding me? It’s Memorial Day weekend? What are you thinking?”
What I wanted to say but didn’t: “Holy bananas!! It’s Memorial Day weekend!?! We didn’t even know that! We should have planned our mechanical failure for a different time.”
“What?! Swimming lessons are full?! Well, you’re the one who is going to have to tell my kid he can’t go swimming because I’m not doing it.”
What I wanted to say but didn’t: “No, you’re the one who didn’t come in to sign up for swimming lessons until the day before they started. So you can explain to your kid that registration started 3 months ago and you’re either lazy or unorganized.”
“The shelter is already reserved? No! You have to call those people and tell them it’s mine because I already sent out invitations to 50 people! What do you expect me to do?”
What I wanted to say but didn’t: “No, you’re the idiot who sent out invitations before reserving your venue. I suggest you start calling your friends.”
“I want to sign my children up for summer camp but I don’t want to pay for it. It’s not that I can’t afford it, I just want to spend my money on other things.”
What I wanted to say but didn’t: “Guess what lady, I don’t want to pay for school, or groceries, or cable tv, or my cell phone, or rent, but I still have to.”