Well, not really… “girl” denotes someone of a younger age. I’m a woman, a female… and I work in a construction office. Right away, this earns me the Inferiority Award when men (and a lot of women) call into the office with questions. You see, because of my gender, I can’t possibly know anything related to what we do here (seamless aluminum gutters).
This morning, I had numerous topic ideas rolling around in my noggin, and I just took a phone call that made me mentally shout, “AH HA! That’s what I need to write about!” An elderly gentleman (I could tell by the quaver in his voice) called, asking for the former owner of the company, and when I said he hasn’t been around for at least four years, he proceeded to ask for a technician. I nicely explained that no one was available, but that I could probably help him, he responded with the very condescending and pity-filled tone of voice, “Well, this is a very technical question.” I realize that the generational difference between he and myself has a lot to do with the “silly little girl” tone that he had. So, I mentally censored myself, and countered with, “Well, why don’t you ask me anyway.”
There was hesitation on his part, he repeated that it was a very technical question, but after he steeled himself for a wrong answer, he asked his “very technical question” of “When installing gutters, does it get installed under the drip edge?” (The answer is “Yes”). He proceeded to ask me a few other questions, to which I had the answers. By the end of the phone call, he was a bit snotty (I kept the tone of my voice pleasant). Was his snottiness due to the fact that I didn’t defer to “one of the men” in the office (the men are usually out working in the field during the day, so he would have gotten voicemail anyway)? Who knows the reasons for his tone. Regardless of his reasons, I’d like to point out that many of the things I learned about being a top-notch receptionist, I learned from television, such as WKRP in Cincinnati and from “Ernestine the Operator”.
How to deal with the Big Guy:
How to collect money:
As you can see, there is a lot to deal with in this line of work. Each industry is slightly different, but here are some things to remember when calling a business and you get the receptionist/secretary/Office Ninja:
*We are both the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster. Be nice to us – its much easier to get what you want that way.
*We are smarter than the Average Bear.
*If we don’t know, we will find out the answer and get back to you OR we will find you someone to talk to you does know.
*Many of us who answer the phones in the construction industry are female – we’re used to dealing with chauvinistic jackasses all day. Don’t be one.
Some things to know about me:
*I’m in possession of a Science Degree
*I am smarter than the Average Bear
*Naturally curious – if I don’t know something, I will look it up.
*Had a Mom who raised me to be independent – I know more about construction than many men I’ve met.
*In college, I was the only female I knew of with a kick-ass tool box AND a hammer-drill. The guys borrowed my tools.
Now that I’ve cleared up those misconceptions, it’s time to get back to turning away telemarketers and educating contractors and homeowners alike. Conquering the world one phone call at a time!