Saturday, June 24, 2006

As the Office Turns.....

It is one crazy ride! I have been in the office now for almost a month--omg, how do you people stand it?!! WE are SO short drivers right now--several of us are off on medical leave, we fired about three drivers for various reasons, two are retiring within the next month, and one moved out of state. On top of that we have four people on vacation each week with two others off on requested days off. Add to it the 2-4 drivers who call off each day and you can see the dilemna! The head supe just stood there, shaking his head this morning, as he surveyed the board and tried to figure out how to stretch his driving team to meet the needs of our transit system today. We have almost no extra board left to take up the slack and so we are pulling in drivers on their breaks and practically begging them to give us an hour or more to keep the buses rolling. Fortunately most of the drivers I work with are team players and chip in as the need arises. But there is a small percentage of drivers who don't care and they make it hard for the rest of us.

I hate just sitting there while the supes frantically try to fill the paddles each day. I feel guilty for not helping, and I can't help but regret all the over time I could be racking up each day!! So I do my best to be support staff and make sure the phones are answered promptly, paperwork is filed correctly, and that the paddle sheet supply is kept up. The copy machine and I have a great relationship--I think we may be going steady...!! *grin* Just don't tell my husband! *wink*

Friday, June 16, 2006

The fine art of hanging up...

You know, there is only just so much I can take, answering the phones every day at work. Yesterday I hit the wall.

I get the same young man calling every day about whether or not the bus has passed through a particular time point. Every day. Yes, I know it is him because I recognize his voice--hard not to when you hear it EVERY DAY!! Yesterday I was in the middle of trying to understand a program on the computer with the ops manager and the phones were ringing off the hook so I finally grabbed it and it was my little friend, wanting to know if the bus had gone by yet.

Now tell me this--why is it that this young man has the money for a cell phone but obviously not a watch?! The ride gudes are even free--he needs to pick one up so that he knows when the bus comes through that stop every day! But no, he wants to call ME and ask ME the same stupid question day in and day out.

I snapped. Yes, I admit it--I was rude! He said he had only been at the stop for a few minutes and upon checking MY watch I told him the bus had probably come through already, since it had been due there about 8 minutes before he called, and that the next one would be along shortly. Now this is where I got ticked off--he asked me to CALL THE BUS and SEE WHERE IT IS.

Now, I have no problem asking a supervisor to call a bus if, say, the person calling me was at the stop 5-10 minutes before it's time point and it's now twenty minutes later. That I can understand. But I am NOT calling for a bus when he can't even get his sorry ass out there on time! It's not my problem--he needs to BE at the stop BEFORE the bus is due, not asking me to call it when he wasn't there in the first place!

So basically I told him "no". Then he asked for a supervisor and I told him no again and told him he could just wait, the bus would be there in a few minutes. THEN I HUNG UP ON HIM!! Wouldn't you know it, the phones were still ringing and I picked it up again, and now he is yelling for a supe--I HUNG UP ON HIM AGAIN!! I decided maybe I had better not answer the phone any more and got back to the computer program.

Now mind you, my ops manager was standing next to me throughout this entire exchange! She never said a word, but she was the one at the window when the kid decided to come in and complain about me!! *giggle* She basically told him the same thing I had, that we won't call a bus unless it is extremely late, but she was a lot nicer about it than I was--hey, she gets paid more to deal with that crap, I don't, so she can handle it! I told her it was me--duh!--and all she said was "don't be rude" and let it go... Yeah, yeah, I know, and really, I am VERY nice to most people, but every once in awhile I just can't deal...

Oh yeah--and do you know, he called AGAIN, AFTER I had hung up on him not once but TWICE (before he came into the office, that is) and asked me for the time the next bus was coming through that location?!! I recognized his voice...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

You can't make this stuff up!

Answering the phones for a busy transportation company that still insists on personal service leads to some very interesting--and often mind-blowing--conversations. Let's take a call I got yesterday for example.

The lady calling in for information sounded elderly and had a very strong Asian accent. Now I am pretty good at deciphering most questions asked of me, but Asian accents absolutely defeat me! I put her on hold and tried to pass her off to our office manager, since she has more experience in that department, but I guess the woman thought I had hung up on her and called right back, and yes, I answered the phone... So. I finally figure out where she is going to and then she asks me what time the bus gets to where she is. I pause, and then I asked her the $100,000 question---"Where are you?" Her response? Are you ready for this? Drum roll please:

"Well, don't you know?"

I was flabbergasted! "Uh, NO!" "Oh, well, thank you very much" and she hung up!! I laughed so hard I cried! So sorry, I forgot to hook up my GPS system to the phone this morning! DON'T I KNOW?!!! Oh lordy, that was a good one! But it is par for the course. I think I am going to start keeping track of all the calls I get that are borderline stupid, inane, or just plain infuriating. Well, that would be about 99.8% of the calls, actually, so maybe just the really stupid ones. I figure if I start writing them down now, by the end of my light duty I should have enough material for a stand up routine! I could then quit my daytime job and become a stand up comic. No, wait a minute, that wouldn't work because how would I come up with new material if I didn't drive the buses anymore? Hmmm. So I will drive bus by day, and moonlight as a comic at night. Like I said, you can't make this stuff up!! Unbelievable....

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Here it is, the first of June, and the countdown to the last day of school has begun here at my house. With the end of the school year fast approaching, DD#1 is feeling the stress as she prepares for finals next week AND her big dance recital this weekend. Usually the two events don't coincide, but for some reason this year the dance company had to schedule the recital about two weeks earlier than normal and so the conflict. She has had two extra dress rehearsals already because she is in ballet and getting all of the choreography coordinated and staged is a huge deal in itself. DD#2 has her one and only dress rehearsal tonight, and since she is still in jr high she's not too stressed about the exam schedule.

DD#1 is upset because she has worked very hard to not miss any school, even going to school when she wasn't feeling well, so that she can exempt an exam only to be told that the two days she took off to go visit her grandfather who is ill--EXCUSED absences, mind you--count as missed days and so now she has to take ALL of her exams! Her teachers told her she would be ok, but the school secretary told her differently and since she is in charge of the program who can argue with her?! Well, I may TRY, but no guarantees of success there!

Along with the arrival of summer comes the oft repeated phrase "But there's nothing to do!" and "I'm bored!"... (sigh) Children are never happy! When school is in they can hardly wait to get out. When school is out they are always bored. I'd tell them to go get a job but they are both too young still... I had a job at their age but things were quite different 20 years ago. Growing up in a small farming town kids were expected to work. Nowadays all they are expected to do is stay out of trouble until they are 18 and no longer their parents' responsibility! (sigh) Gonna be a looooonnnngggg summer...