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Working The Phones - A Short Story

Updated on December 2, 2012
I can hear her mouth breathing through the phone. Time ticks on while she struggles to assemble a coherent sentence. I try to ignore the ringing phones on my switchboard and wait.

“Does your hotel...have...” I sit there.

“ you have...” I miraculously stifle the urge to bash the phone against my desk.

“Do you have a pool?” That was 120 seconds of my life I will never get back. “No - sorry”, I reply.

Working at a hotel is often an exercise in self-control.

“Hello”, a new caller says. My phones continue ringing.

“Hello,” I say. “How can I help you?”

“How are you?” Phone-bashing looms large in my mind.

“Fine. How can I help you?”

“That’s good. Can you transfer me to Accounting?”

Another call, this time a child. “Uh...can...I...have...MOM!...Can...I...have...more towels?”

My phones just ring and ring while she apparently has an argument with her younger brother.

“And can I...also...have...soap?”

“Anything else?”

“Uh...MOM! DO WE NEED ANYTHING ELSE? No, that’s it.”

By now, I have 6 phones ringing. After a couple mercifully short calls, the following:

“I was PROMISED the Presidential Suite and breakfast included.”

“Okay...who promised it to you?”

“I don’t know.”

As my nerves start to gently fray, I hand the call off to my manager.

Ring. “Where is the ice machine?”

“Down the hall, near the elevators.”

“Where’s that?”

Time for break.

Back from break.

“Are the sheets clean?”

“Yes, ma’am, the sheets are clean.”

“I’m checking in next week. Can I have a nice room?” As opposed to our crappy ones, I guess.

“Yes, sir, all our rooms are very nice.”

Ring. ring. ring. A man with an unintelligible accent speaks.

“I’m sorry, sir. I don’t understand. Can you repeat that?”

More gibberish.

“I’m sorry, but...” More gibberish, this time with an attitude.

“Sir, I...” I, through sheer genius and will, figure out that he wants to be transferred to room 1102. I smile to myself, swelling with pride.

The thrill is short-lived.

“Is this the Plaza Hotel?”

“No, ma’am, it’s not.”

“Well, this is the number I got for the Plaza.”

“Right. But unfortunately, this is not the Plaza.”

“But this is the number for the Plaza.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. Would you like me to look up the number for you?”

“This is the number.”

After accidentally disconnecting the call, another one.

“Hi...I stayed there three months ago and I left my cell phone charger in the room...I just noticed it was you have it?”

After checking with Lost and Found, I return to the phone.

“I’m very sorry, but we don’t have your charger.”

“Well, you have to have it.”

“I do apologize, but I double-checked, and we do not have it.”

“Well, I left it there. It’s very important.” So important you forgot about it for 3 months.

“We can contact you if anything turns up.”

“I’m gonna report you to the police for theft.”

“Okay, have a nice day, ma’am.”

Ring. ring. ring. “I wish to make a complaint.” Take a number.


“Your security guard was rude to me last night.”

“Oh? I’m very sorry; what happened?”

“He asked to see my room key before he let me into the hotel.”

“Well, that’s our procedure - it’s for your safety.”

“I think he was rude to me because I’m black.”

“ guard is black too.”

“Are you getting an attitude with me? You’re being rude to me!”

The Security Manager gets that call.


“Hello. I just called a little while ago about the charger?”


“I found it.”

As I snuggle into bed that night with my boyfriend, he asks me why I do it day after day.

I look it him with a completely straight face and answer. “‘Cause I’m a people person.”


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