top 10 pet peeves of a receptionist

My first job out of college was a receptionist for a mid-size telecommunications company. Obviously not my dream job, but it was 2009, I was in loads of student loan debt and I couldn’t afford to be picky. The job had its ups and downs (mostly downs, but that’s a story for another post), but I quickly learned that coworkers, callers and outside visitors alike have no idea how to properly deal with a receptionist. I complied this list of my biggest pet peeves during the 14 months I sat behind the front desk.
1. I am not a mind-reader. If you call and ask for “John,” but don’t know his last name, which office he works in, what department he works in, or any other discernible information about him, chances are I can’t help you.
2. Although the reception area may be larger than your cube, it doesn’t mean you can take up permanent residence here. Do not scratch your crotch, talk on the phone with your “bros” about your E-Trade portfolio, throw a tennis ball against the wall, or do any other unnecessary activity in or around my desk. I have work to do, too, and believe it or not, watching you walk around reception with your hands down your pants is not conducive to a productive work environment.
3. My desk is my personal space. It is not your coffee table, makeup vanity, filing cabinet or bongo drum. Just because it isn’t closed in with cubicle walls doesn’t mean it’s public domain. Anything you leave on my desk can and will be thrown away.
4. My computer screen may be visible while you’re passing through the office, but that doesn’t mean you need to comment on whatever I’m looking at. I don’t come over to your cube and comment on your fantasy football team, your not-safe-for-work YouTube videos
5. Being rude to me will get you nowhere but an empty phone line. What makes you think I want to help someone who’s practically yelling at me over the phone? Even worse is when you call and ask me a question, only to express dissatisfaction with the results. Oh right, I forgot…you’re the expert on a company you don’t work for. What would I, the eyes, ears, and human phone directory of said company, know anyway?
6. I may be a receptionist, but I’m not stupid. There’s no need to speak to me like I’m 5 years old. I have a college degree and enough intelligence to know your patronizing tone is only going to get you sent to a dead-end voicemail.
7. LISTEN. I can’t even count how many people thought my first name was the name of my company, or, when informed of my name, totally butcher it and call me ‘Alice’ or ‘Alyssa.’ Also, if I say the name of the company and it sounds nothing like what you’re calling for, there’s no shame in admitting you have the wrong number. I had people try and convince me they were calling a dentist’s office, an insurance company and a gumball machine manufacturer. One woman just kept shouting over me that she needed to schedule a root canal. I hung up on her.
8. I’m not your personal assistant. I won’t address your Christmas cards, make copies of your daughter’s Dean’s List certificate, or put a stamp on your traffic ticket violation. Actually, I’d do all of that and pick up your dry-cleaning if you gave me a significant raise.
9. I’m not your therapist. I do feel bad that your girlfriend dumped you, that you’re hungover, that you’re broke, etc. However, there’s only so much sympathy I can send your way because at the end of the day, I don’t care. I have a litany of my own problems to deal with (one of them being this job) and like I said before, I don’t get paid enough to listen to you bitch.
10. Leave me alone. Not all the time, because I get that my job is to help you/listen to you/etc., but sometimes I may be upset/angry/annoyed and want some privacy. I’m a big crier; I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m bored. I cry at my desk a lot simply because I can’t leave the phones and because I don’t have cubicle walls to hide behind. (Sometimes I have cubicle envy.) I appreciate the concern, but nine times out of 10 I just want to be left alone.
These are just a few things to keep in mind the next time you interact with your friendly neighborhood receptionist.

words of widsom from the executive level.

Apparently there has been a lack of professional behavior during meetings at my company, which should shock about zero people if they’re familiar with the workings of my office. Someone very high up in my company sent out the following email today, which I present to you as reason #673 why a trained monkey could run my company better than the current management, and as a testament to how proper grammar/spelling/syntax is a lost art form in corporate America. The notations in red are mine, naturally.


I sent a message to the directors the other day about how to act in a meeting and be professional. It seems to be the message has not been received. (Did you mean “seems to me,” or are you just unaware of how a sentence should be structured?) I know we have a lot of things being thrown at us and trust me  I am addicted to my PDA but I am seeing reps in meetings that are not paying attention at all and are so focused they are not even listening to the meeting. (Run-on sentence much? There should be a smattering of commas in there, too.) I have been in three meetings lately with Global type companies and the Carousel rep is oblivious to what the customer is asking. At one point I had to reprimand two reps who were laughing with each other. If we want to be best in class let’s act like it. (Talk about the pot calling the kettle black…) The last things is our dress code is getting way to relaxed. (Should be “thing” and “too,” and about the dress code – no s**t, Sherlock.) I ask if we are doing a briefing for a customer in any location please wear a jacket or suit. Let’s look our part as well.

Sorry for the long email but we need to pay attention to the people that our (are) asking us to be there (their) advisor (adviser) and be thankful….

The grammar nerd inside of me wept when this email found its way to my inbox. Does this man not know how to operate spell check and/or understand the importance of proofreading? Oy vey…

the future freaks me out.

Yesterday marked one week since I graduated from college.  It hasn’t really hit me yet…even though I sat on the campus green in my cap and gown with 989 of my classmates, it still feels surreal. It still feels like I’ll be going back to school in the fall, and that graduation was just a silly little ceremony we did for kicks.

So now I’m living at home and am currently unemployed. Not exactly where I thought I would be post-Marist when I created my 4-year plan as a freshman, but that was in 2005, when the economy wasn’t so scary. I’m actively looking for a job, any job, but it’s scary nonetheless to be a 21-year-old college graduate who can’t even get a job at the mall.

hello there.

I’ve been absent from blogging for a loooong time. Spring Break, subsequent Spring Break withdrawal, and the dance show have eaten up my time and energy.

I have a lot on my mind these days, so I’m hoping I’ll be motivated to post more frequently. We’ll see…

grunting is not acceptable in the library.

I spent a fair amount of time in the library this morning, working on my World Religions term paper (which is due the Tuesday after Spring Break, but that’s a rant for another time.) When it comes to spending time in there studying, I’m a creature of habit. Our library offers tons of striking views of the Hudson River and campus, but those spots are way too distracting for me. I choose to sit in the ground floor in the back of the building, in a study desk right next to the electrical closet. I’ve sat there during every library trip since sophomore year, and I don’t plan on moving my study spot in the next 80-something days before graduation.

That was until I met the person I will now refer to as Grunting Anime Guy (GAG for short.) I first encountered him last week when I was going to my usual spot to work on my paper. He seemed harmless enough; laptop, headphones, notebook, etc. It wasn’t until about an hour into my work session that I heard the grunting and the humming. There was no one else around so I knew he was the culprit. His guttural sounds are eventually replaced by laughter and occasional shouts of “Stop that! Oh no!”

At first, I thought he might have been on the phone, one of my biggest library pet peeves, but as I peered around my desk to see him, I saw an anime cartoon fill his computer screen. I admit I know nothing about anime except that it’s some sort of glorified cartoon from Japan, but I’m sure there’s a time and place for it outside of the library on a Saturday morning. I tried to drown out GAG with my iPod, but that led to even more distraction. I packed up my things and left, shooting GAG a dirty look on the way out, but he was too enraptured with his cartoons to notice.

After an envigorating trip to the gym this morning, (14 days to bikini body!) I went to the library. Who do I spy as I turn the corner to the back part of the library? GAG, his setup now featuring colored pencils and a sketch book. My immediate instinct is to leave and sit somewhere else, but I refuse to let GAG ruin my time at the library. I busy myself with my reading and note-taking, but about an hour into my work, I hear the sound of a pencil being sharpened. It’s actually many pencils being sharpened, because the sound continues for what seems like 10 minutes.  GAG kept the grunting and exclamatory statements to a minimum today, but was a nuisance nonetheless. I could only stay for two hours, and I made sure to drop another unnoticed dirty look on my way out.

I’m sure GAG is a perfectly nice person, albeit one with questionable choice in TV shows, but he really needs to learn that the library is a place for quiet work, not giddy reactions to Pokemon.

the sun and the sand and a drink in my hand.

In 17 days, I will be on a plane headed to our Spring Break destination.  As excited as I am, I can’t believe it’s so close. We booked this trip back in the beginning of October, and March 15 seemed sooooo far away. Now it’s frighteningly soon.

We’ve all joked throughout the semester that it’s “__ Weeks to Bikini Body,” but it’s really not as comical as one would think. I’m going to the gym as much as I can, and suddenly I’m worried that I’m too pale to be seen in a bathing suit in two weeks. I’m translucent to begin with, and the fact that most of my skin hasn’t seen sunlight since August isn’t helping. One of my bikinis is white and it’s hard to discern where the fabric ends and my skin begins. I’m already anticipating being sunburned, so I’ll make sure my wardrobe coordinates with red.

As excited as I am about white, sandy beaches and an ocean that looks turquoise, there is so much for this anxious girl to get through before then. Packing is the bane of my existence, and I’m not lying when I say I’ve been thinking about what to pack since we booked the trip. My Spring Break Checklist is getting freakishly long, and I’ve been making myself loco trying to plan my laundry in order for everything to be ready to go.

Then there’s the flight. I’ve only flown twice in my life, and during takeoff on my first flight when I was 16, I had a full-fledged panic attack. Many people have told me that air travel is safer than driving, but there’s just something so unnatural about a large, heavy, metal object being suspended in the air. I’ve even worked for an aircraft manufacturer and I still don’t understand or embrace travel via airplanes.  Our flight is fairly early in the morning so I’m hoping I’ll be too tired or running on a crazy adrenaline rush to have another panic attack, because there’s really nothing better than hyperventilating in front of the 20-something other people you’re going on Spring Break with.

Once I’m safely on Dominican soil, things are going to get a lot better: an all-inclusive resort and 80-degree weather.

seasonal anxiety

I usually hate spring. I don’t know why, but something about the snow melting and the ground thawing and the trees budding does not appeal to me. I’m a fall and winter kind of girl, so the transition into warmer weather is always hard for me. Since coming to college, the anxiety of spring has grown significantly, knowing that each time the weather gets warmer, another year is over and I’m one step closer to the real world.

I try to stall the season change as long as I can – I won’t wear shorts until it’s at least 70 degrees out, I picket against the wearing of sandals (although that’s a whole other story,) I refuse to do outdoor-related activities and get very sanctimonious about not participating, etc.

So someone please explain to me why this year I want the weather to get warmer. Maybe it’s the deluge of snow we’ve received in the past month and a half; maybe it’s the fact that for a few weeks it was never higher than 20 degrees outside; maybe it’s because I’m off to the Dominican Republic in less than a month…I honestly don’t know. All I know is that I just spent the past 75 minutes of my World Religions class staring out the window at Route 9, wishing the snow would melt and I can retire my North Face for the season.

It’s funny, because I shouldn’t want spring to come this year. Not only does it signal the end of another academic year, it signals the end of my academic career. The dreaded g-word is 100 days away, (thanks for that terrifying email, Career Services!) so I should be wishing for an arctic blast of winter to prolong the inevitable.

Who knows, but maybe I’ll be less sanctimonious this year about outdoor events : )

yes, i gave in to peer pressure.

I joined the thousands of people who are willing to share 25 random facts about themselves on Facebook. (The New York Times even wrote an article about it.) Since I like writing about myself so much, (hence this blog) I’m going to repost my 25 facts for everyone’s reading enjoyment.

1. My hair is currently its natural color, which it hasn’t been in 5 years.

2. When I was younger, I was terrified of Pee Wee Herman. (And I still kind of am.)

3. My feet are two different sizes (7 and 8.5) and I HATE shoe shopping because of this.

4. I’m severely tone deaf, which anyone who’s heard me do karaoke at Nuddy’s can attest to.

5. When I was 12, I got my hair cut really, really, really short, and when people see pictures of me from that time, they ask who that boy is. I’m scarred for life by this and subsequently never cut my hair shorter than shoulder-length.

6. I hate when people touch my neck or throat.

7. One of my biggest fears is never getting married and being alone for the rest of my life.

8. I’m a firm believer in karma…what goes around comes around.

9. In middle school, I was convinced I was going to play basketball for UConn…until I played rec basketball and absolutely hated it.

10. I talk in my sleep all the time, and I occasionally sleepwalk.

11. I had braces for 5 years and I’m still not happy with how my teeth look.

12. My brain is like a sponge for trivia/pop culture facts. Sports trivia, not so much, but I’m trying.

13. The fact that I’m graduating TERRIFIES ME. Nothing in my life has been scarier than this and I feel sick thinking about it.

14. I wish I had better style…I tend to dress like I’m 15, which is probably why a lot of people ask me when I’m graduating from high school.

15. I love makeup but I always need help putting it on.

16. The smell of books is one of the best smells in the world.

17. Contrary to popular belief, having webbed feet does not make you a better swimmer. I can barely tread water.

18. I have very bad road rage.

19. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people and I hate talking on the phone.

20. I can’t inflict any sort of pain on myself….plucking my eyebrows, ripping off Band-Aids, etc.

21. I like the idea of the beach, but once I’m actually there, I hate getting sandy and salty. I’m terrified of the ocean, too.

22. I read Twilight and I HATED IT. I’ve read hundreds of books in my life, and this horrible piece of crap ranks in the top 5. Nothing you say can convince me otherwise.

23. I don’t like relying on other people, especially when it’s for something I know I’m capable of doing myself (such as driving.)

24. I’m incredibly self-conscious about my iTunes library and I always wonder what people would think about me if they looked through it.

25. I’m incredibly, horribly jealous of people who can wear flip-flops. I’ve even researched surgeries to undo webbed feet.

adventures in insomnia.

I’m determined to get myself to sleep through the night, so yesterday I downloaded a relaxation Podcast. I usually listen to low-key music on my iPod while I’m in bed, but lately, John Mayer just hasn’t been doing it for me.

I probably should have realized the title of the Podcast is “Relaxing Stream,” so I can’t blame anyone but myself. I press play and the sound of running water fills my ears. I immediately know there will be no relaxation going on in my body with the sound of water coming out of my headphones. It never fails; the sound of running water always makes me feel like I have to use the bathroom, and that feeling is anything but relaxing.

I try to ignore the water as soothing music starts playing. This is nice, I think, pulling my covers up over my head. As I listen to the music, it sounds very familiar to me. It takes me a while, but I realize it sounds like the music my salon plays in the background of the waxing rooms. So here I am, lying in bed trying to relax, and the music I’m listening to reminds me of hot wax being applied to my eyebrows and then being viciously ripped off.

I defeatedly stop the Podcast and scrolled through my iPod library to find Continuum, hoping John could do better.

sleep. or lack thereof.

I haven’t slept through the night in over a week and it’s pretty much driving me insane. I can’t fall asleep, I can’t stay asleep, I talk in my sleep, I sleepwalk, etc. (I woke up standing in the middle of the bathroom the other night.)

I’m always wide awake when I should be falling asleep, but when my alarm goes off the next morning, I can barely stand up I’m so tired. I think I fell asleep with my eyes open when I was eating lunch at work last week.

Nothing helps – not melatonin supplements, not aromatherapy, not listening to my iPod…NOTHING. The bags under my eyes would make Louis Vuitton jealous.