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Telephone Etiquette

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Ruby Vee Ruby Vee (Member)

Ruby Vee is a Critical Care with over 40 years in experience.

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I knew it was going to be a bad day when the phone rang at 4:30 AM and I actually answered it.

Telephone Etiquette

It's a reflex. The phone rings when it's dark and you're sleeping it's either a crisis of some sort or (and hope springs eternal) it was work calling to cancel me.

"Who's THIS?" demanded a female voice on the other end of the phone line.

"Who were you trying to reach?" I mumbled, trying to be polite.

"I'm trying to reach the skanky whore who's messin' with my MAN," was the reply. "I found this number in his pants yesterday, and he's not home yet. I know he's with you, and I'm gonna come over there and rip your head off."

"I don't know either you or your man," I managed. "But I can assure you that the only man I'm messing with is my husband."

"Put him on the phone, B(expletive meaning female dog.)" I couldn't put him on the phone. He was at work. Clearly, the charming woman who called me at 4:30 in the morning to threaten bodily harm didn't believe me. By then it was obvious I wasn't going to get any more sleep, so I got out of bed to look at the caller ID. Uh-oh -- given the last name, she could have been the wife of one of the CNAs DH works with. Or maybe not. It's a common last name. I told her I was sorry, I didn't know her man, was positive he wasn't in my house anywhere and I was going back to sleep. And I hung up.

Seconds later, my cell phone rang. Oh, wait. It's dear Hubby's cell phone . . . he must have mine. Lovely lady with the great telephone manners is calling on this phone, too. So DH MUST know him. Yup. Caller ID on DH's cellphone reads "Randy Johnson", the name of the CNA.

"Just a thought, Mrs. Johnson," I said. "Do you think he's at work?"

"Oh," she said, deflated. Then she hung up. I suppose it was nuts to expect an apology anyway. Just on the off chance, I called MY cellphone, and DH answered. Yup, Randy Johnson was at work, and why did I want to know that? I told him all about it. Oh, am I glad I don't have to be Randy Johnson when he gets home to see the missus.

People used to call you at reasonable hours (between the hours of 9AM and 9PM), apologize if they got a wrong number and introduce themselves before launching into the reason for their call. Not so much anymore. As I was driving in to work, I got a call on hubby's cell. (Hope still springing eternal, I answered it. ) No, it wasn't work calling to cancel me. It was Willie from "the call center", calling to offer me a wonderful opportunity to subscribe to 10 years of Ladies Home Housekeeping (or some such) for a very low price and by the way, it would help to provide tampons for needy girls in Africa.

"No thanks," I replied. And then, just because I'm easily excitable, I asked "Do you have any idea what TIME it is?"

"What's your point?"

"It's six thirty in the freaking AM," I hissed at him. "The SUN isn't even up. And you want to talk to me about MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS?" I really didn't catch his answer because the traffic up ahead was stopped and I had to slam on my brakes to avoid that sudden stop with the high insurance premiums at the end of it. (I should know better than to answer the phone while driving. I DO know better than to answer the phone while driving. But it might have been work calling to cancel me!)

When I picked up the phone again (it's OK, I'm stopped in the middle of a gigantic traffic snarl caused when some idiot who was texting while driving sideswiped a dump truck. At least I'm not stupid enough to text while driving!) Willie was ranting about some people who couldn't be bothered to help others. I hung up.

The phone rings again -- hey it could really be work calling to cancel me this time -- and it's Willie again.

"I just wanted to let you know how rude it is to hang up on someone because you obviously have no manners," he shouted. "You are nothing but a pus filled whore who should not defile a man such as myself by daring to speak to me." And he went on and on, educating me, I'll admit, on some truly creative insults.

"Call back in an hour," I told him, knowing that by then I'd have met up with DH and switched phones.

When I got to work, I found out that they'd been trying to cancel me, but the calls kept going to MY cell phone, which was residing at the time in DH's pocket with the ringer turned off because he's in a room with a patient. They couldn't get ahold of me, so they cancelled someone else instead.

Oh, this is going to be a GREAT day.

Half hour or so into my shift, DH calls. I've turned the ringer back on (thinking I was switching it off) and the phone is trying to vibrate it's way out of my shirt pocket while blaring Brad Paisley's latest. The patient is not impressed. I answer it anyway because it's DH and he wouldn't be calling me at work if it wasn't important.

"So what did you do to **** off the call center?" he wanted to know. "They keep calling to curse at me."

"Tell them you're my lawyer," I said. Not too much of a stretch because DH would have been a lawyer if he hadn't given up law school to follow the Grateful Dead and ended up in nursing school instead. (I'm still not sure how that works, but I suspect there were illegal substances involved.)

This time I DO turn off the phone. It's too late. My day is already started on a downhill slide -- it can only get worse from here. Great -- the attending physician today is Dr. ImAFlamingDonkeyButt. He's always so much FUN to work with.

My patient's wife calls to curse me out because some idiot doctor called her at 7:30 in the morning and it wasn't an emergency and what kind of ill-mannered incompetents did we hire anyway? She was still ranting when I leaned over to Dr. ImAFlamingDonkeyButt who had already plopped himself in MY chair and taken over MY computer because the screen on the portable computer the unit had purchased just for him (so he wouldn't monopolize the nurse's computers anymore) was too smeared with unknown substances for him to read.

"Excuse me, Doctor" I said as sweetly as possible, handing off the nurse's phone to him. "It's for you." And then I hustled myself off around the corner to the linen closet where I could laugh myself silly in peace.

Ruby Vee, BSN

article_pluralized; 167,378 Visitors; 470 Posts

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Ruby, you are so funny! I thought I would be reading some serious thing about talking on the phone at work and responding posters would be telling horror stories of clueless co-workers, etc.Thank God I was wrong! I have to admit my pre-answering ettiquette leaves something to be desired...........the phone rings and I snarl, WWHHHHAAAAATTTTTT?!!" and THEN I pick up the phone and identify my location and name in a warm tone of voice. At home, if the phone rings I either ignore it or immediately yell to my husband "It's for YOU!" without actually answering it.;) I am REALLY not, I mean NOT, a 'phone-person'!

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I really did laugh out loud while reading this article. Work seldom calls to cancel...they usually call at 6:00 on my day off to see if I would work extra. My cell phone has an east coast area code and I now live in Arizona where we do not go on daylight savings. If you're late on a credit card payment, the computer does the dialing based on your area code not your billing address. I have been awakened at 6:00 am with a disembodied voice telling me to please hold for the next available representative. It's extremely difficult to maintain a polite tone of voice...so I just hang up. Thanks for the laugh!

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Thank you, Ruby Vee, for such a well-written, entertaining article.

I also want to express my appreciation for validating some decisions I made years ago: An unpublished LAN line number, no cell phone except for the one Belinda really wanted to give to me, and all phones are off during my sleeping hours.

It would seem with the ubiquitous use of cells, phone etiquette has taken a real down turn. I believe this partially stems from the fact that disembodied voices are not considered to be a human being deemed worthy of respect.

So I follow a simple rule: If I don't want to see it, hear it, or deal with it, I turn it off.

Thanks again, Ruby Vee.


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