The Many Hats of Office Reception
Last week I picked up allergy remedies at Duane Reade and wasn’t surprised to hear the cashier complaining about her job. The act of bitching must be a qualification to work at that convenience store, because you hear the same thing in every NYC location.
The lady assisting me was yelling to her coworker, “I’m not the manager. I’m just a cashier.”
Then she looked directly at me and said, “I wish I was a receptionist so I could sit all day.”
It was as if she was seeking the answer from me, so I jumped in, “Trust me, I’m a receptionist; and you do not want to be one.” She got a few giggles after I explained some of the annoyances of the job. The grass is always greener, except if the greener side is supposed to be at Duane Reade.
The common misconception is that all receptionists sit on their hiney, just waiting and waiting for a call to come in. Since attendance at an annual receptionist conference isn’t in the cards (or in existence for that matter), I’m unsure how it is for others; but for me, that is certainly not the case. I am at the only front desk for two companies; therefore I have to deal with anything and everything.
On a regular day, I interact with about 200-300 people on the phone and in person. Sure, there is downtime, but for the most part, it’s nonstop randomness. I have to sign for packages from FedEx, DHL, and UPS and distribute them — all while not missing a call. I have to play Sherlock Holmes when a semi-cracked out messenger comes in for a package that doesn’t exist. I ward away sales people trying to convince me that they have an appointment with our office manager. Running to the bathroom is always stressful, because I fear I will miss a call coming for a partner and get yelled at. I’m constantly answering the same questions from coworkers because the lack of retentive memory:
Where do I put this envelope for regular mail? The same place where I showed you yesterday.
You order supplies, right? Nope, same person I told you last week, and the week before, and the week before.
Did “so and so” come yet? Calm down, I told you I would ring you when they arrive.
Despite all the little annoyances that add up; the main element about my job that I yearn to escape altogether is lunchtime. I don’t mean in regards to MY lunch, because that’s the only 30 minutes I have to gain back my sanity. I’m referring to the lunchtime of my coworkers.
When people order food, the protocol is to inform me from where they have ordered and the form of payment. On a daily basis people forget, forcing me to go on a witch hunt to find the culprit that is anonymously ordering moo goo gai pan with an egg roll. Having this responsibility has enabled me to learn who respects people in service jobs and who hates their health. It gives me a weird amount of personal power to judge people.
I must admit that there are a few people in the office that have noteworthy lunch etiquette, and I like to reward them by delivering lunches right to their desk.
On one memorable occasion I was delivering a lunch and thought I’d be a little quirky. While still holding the bag of food I said, “Quick, catch”, pretending to throw the bag, like I used to do when I was a tween (not sure why I haven’t matured).There just so happened to be a hole and pantomiming the throw caused a shower of salad to come flying out of the hole all over her desk. I looked like a New Year’s salad confetti party, with beets covering all the contracts on her desk. Not even a laugh could be released because her lunch was lost, she ruined her documents, and I’d have to clean it up.
The lunch disaster reminded me to never try to mix work and fun again; and to continue despising coworkers at lunchtime.
Recent tweet: There is a famous actor in the office. Interesting how people try to have personalities now.