Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Some People Should be Beaten With Their Own Phone

I love what I do for a living. I would prefer to be repulsively wealthy, but until then, I love what I do for a living.

Except when I answer the phone.

The best way to describe many of the people who call radio station newsrooms is this: When it comes to the human body, the asshole makes more noise than the brain. These callers are no different. The ones who have valid points or normal questions speak normally, speak politely, and don't yell. The assholes make way more noise.

Of the four companies I've worked for, only one would let me tell these people off. The rest generally frown on suggesting a listener stick their own head up their ass, then crap it out onto a hot rock. When I'm unfortunate enough to answer one of these calls, I have to bite my tongue, try to be helpful, and not bang my fist on the desk hard enough for the person on the phone to hear it.

The following are real calls I have answered. I've paraphrased, of course, but will try to do them justice. Along with the description of the call, I will describe how I responded...........and how I wanted to respond.

1. Two weeks after the transit strike started, a woman called to tell me there was a transit strike going on. She asked me how long it was going to last, and how she was supposed to get her kids to school and herself to work. I thanked her for letting us know about the strike, told her we had no way of knowing how long it would last, and apologized for the hard time she was having getting around the city. What I wanted to say was "Fuck off. I hate you. I know there's a strike. I've known since the day it started -- two weeks ago. I pity your children for having such a stupid mother. Go eat some knives."

2. During the blackout a few years ago, a woman called the newsroom. She asked me what she should do about the meat in her freezer. I told her to keep the freezer shut, and it would hold in the cold longer -- thus keeping her meat fresher a little longer. (I don't really know if that's true. I was annoyed, and had to make something up fast before my eyeballs exploded. It sounded reasonably scientific.) What I wanted to say was "Eat it. It all the meat now, before it goes bad. Don't waste valuable time cooking it. Eat it all, eat it raw, get e-coli, and die."

3. Someone called once, looking for the phone number of a specific local business. I opened the phone book, found it, and passed it along. What I wanted to say was "Hey, asshole -- you had to look up the number to call me.....so why exactly couldn't you look up the number to call them???" I hope that person has a tapeworm now.

4. "My hydro is out, but my neighbours have power." Me in Real Life: "I will call the hydro company and find out what's going on." Angry Me Holed Up Inside My Head: "Did you pay your bill, asshole?"

5. This one I feel a tiny bit bad about. An old lady called to find out about a group that was collecting books for kids displaced by a hurricane. At least, I think that's what she was asking about. Hard to tell, what with the slurring. After telling her I hadn't heard of this group, she proceed to slur in my ear that she'd spent nine dollars on these books, and that she was blind. I covered the mouth piece of the phone, and quietly announced to the newsroom that someone else was going to have to take the call, because I was dangerously close to telling a kindly old lady to go fuck herself. What I really wanted to do was tell a kindly old lady to go fuck herself.

6. Roughly 7,000 people have called in the last 5 years, asking about a news story that was actually a commercial. I always explain that a sale at Bob Knob's Toyota is not a news story, and that if they have any questions, they should call Bob Knob's Toyota. What I would rather do is scream directly into the phone until my throat explodes and showers my desk with blood -- shorting out my computer and electrocuting me to death so I don't have to answer the phone anymore.

7. My favourite call came when I worked at the job before the job I work at now. A man called to explain to me just exactly how much of a dirty whore bitch I was. He made some valid points, but overall, I felt he was overreacting. Lucky for me, this was one of the newsrooms that didn't suggest I be kind (or at least non-confrontational.) I held the phone away from my ear, flipped a switch, and blasted that fucker with a screeching tone that would make your balls climb right into your chest.

Best. Call. EVER.

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