Do you have a person in your life you simply do not want to deal with? Talk to, exchange emails with, no contact at all, but you HAVE to for some reason? I do. At work. There is very little chance she knows about this blog, but in the interest of being polite, I will not mention names or positions. Let’s just say she doesn’t work in my department, but in one I have to deal with fairly regularly.
I cannot explain how hard it is to talk to her on the phone or even in person for that matter. I hear the words, and if you take them individually, you would swear that yes indeed, she is speaking English. But when she puts them all together in a sentence, she makes no sense. Seriously. I have taken to not answering the phone when I can see it is her – THANK THE GODS for caller ID – which forces her to leave long, practically indecipherable voicemail messages. It isn’t a problem of an accent or speaking some other language as her first language. It is just the combination of words that come out of her mouth never seem to go together. And I don’t do her job. I never have, so when she references some part of the business that is totally out of my realm of experience, I have no idea what she is talking about.
The first thing that baffles me is that she always says “Hi this is FULL NAME in the XXX office.” When you leave a voicemail, the system tells the person listening who called before playing the message. And I have been working with her for 10 years. I know who she is. I even know where she works. I could tell you who it was even if she didn’t say her name. But that would be fine if I could actually understand what she wants.
So I end up listening to her voicemail 10 times, and then I ask someone else who knows her well and knows more about the work that department does to interpret, and then I respond by email. Because it is never the end of the discussion, and eventually I am going to have to follow up on a variety of points, and I like to have things in writing, so I can review them and make sure I respond to each one. But even then, when we begin exchanging emails, it doesn’t make the pain go away.
Last week, at 4pm on Friday (office close on campus at 4:30) she called me. And called again. She was up against a deadline that was today, and needed info fast. For something I have never had to be involved with before, and couldn’t just pull the info for out of my butt instantly. Inevitably when I do try pulling info out of my butt instantly, I end up with, well, shit. So I really try to avoid doing that. I need time to assess what is needed, get the info together and then respond. So a little heads up is always helpful. Eventually I was able to produce the information she needed, but not without some pain. I have estimated that answering her questions takes me 5 times longer than it would if someone else asked me the same questions.
Every time I see her name on my phone or an email pop up, I just put my head on my desk and whimper. And I am not alone. Almost anyone who has had to deal with her has the same basic reaction. Which is sad and comforting all at the same time.
I don’t see a solution to this problem, so I will continue to run from my office screaming every time I see her name, but thanks for listening.