Strange inquiries

Melly Tango
Sep 27, 2018 · 3 min read

When you are rostered to a telephone service for interlibrary loans and copy service, you will get asked the most obscure questions and left with strange voicemail messages.

The demander

You pick up the receiver and before you finish your greetings, a lady firmly tell you, “I want to pay for training, I have my credit card ready.” Whoa. My brain goes into overdrive, what training is being offered, which team is offering training, and why did the switchboard transfer it to my area? The search on the intranet and corporate website didn’t yield any results. Instead of rattling from my brain with non-existent information, I decided to speak to my team leader, and see if she is aware of training being offered to the wider public for $129. In the end, there was training offered, but by another department for public library staff for a fee, the telephone number was engaged and the person demanded to speak to someone, so the switchboard decided we would be able to help the person. However, as we cannot take this payment, I told the lady she would have to call again and wait.

The curious

Another transferred call. This person asked how do you calculate pixels. I told him I am like you, and I can Google that question. I asked the person whether they had any intention of placing a copy order or interlibrary loan — he said no, just felt like asking a question. It made me wonder, are people so bored, that they need to ring service areas for a chat? The Internet must be running low on entertainment content.

The puzzler

A gentleman rang to ask, if he can bring microfilm reels that he had borrowed from the National Library of Australia to the library for viewing purposes. I tell myself the National Library does not lend items to the public directly, only to libraries (for patron use within the library). So, I queried how did he acquire them. He said through Box Hill public library. He placed an interlibrary loan, but he finds their reader dated and not easy to use. I informed him that removing the reels from Box Hill public library would be breaking policy at both ends,not to mention the accountability for the reels would be a complicated matter if he should damage or lose the reels.

The cryptic

First thing in the morning you would listen to all the banked up voicemail messages. You would hit repeat button on the ones that have requested a call back, this is just to capture the telephone number! When you do call them back, some of them were actually spammers, such as the person who insists on being transferred to the ICT department. What aspect of interlibrary loans sounds like Harvey Norman? Tell me. Really. Sell me your pitch. After 6 months of back talking to these fellas, they had finally given up. It all comes down to being persistent and using a consistent script.

The endearing

We get older folks calling to place copy orders and they generally do not have computers, let alone access to the internet. I would ask a few questions and their postal address, so that I can mail them an official quote. Whereas my colleagues would listen to the older folk tell a story of how their kids moved away from them or how they are helping out a friend do some research. You do need a sympathetic ear, plenty of time, and a sense of humour.

What sort of telephone calls do you get?

Melly Tango

Written by

Tech fanatic. Luv comedy. Anime connoisseur. Works in a library. Idol_ Mjr Motoko Kusanagi 草薙素子 [Ghost in the Shell].

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