Monday, October 25, 2010

Speaking from beyond the grave...

When I was fourteen and nine months,  I decided it was time to get a job. So I got a job.

I was rather lucky to have a mother in possession of excellent resume writing skills, and I somehow - as a nerdy, awkward, unskilled and immature teenager with no experience - managed to become an office/retail assistant for one of the Gold Coast's loveliest optometrists. It was the type of institution where customers could stroll in, pick out a pair of $600 spectacles, get fitted and be offered a machiatto from our coffee machine. Fancy, yes?

They soon figured out that I wasn't very good at anything except for wiping down lenses and boring database work, so I was soon getting paper-cuts from filing away patient cards, a sore tongue from licking envelopes and other uninteresting office-related health hazards. One particular unpleasant task I was stuck with was follow-up phone calls. I was literally given a list of customers who had picked up spectacles or contacts in the past six months, and had to call them, explain who I was and check that their eye wear was going swimmingly.

What I forgot to mention was that this optometrist was located in a predominantly old suburb of the coast filled with old folks homes. It's like the Florida of Queensland. People go there to die. So half the time I would ring out our customers to find out they had died. For instance:

Me: Hi, I'm Paige and I'm calling from ____ Optometrist. Can I please speak with Mrs. Smith about her spectacles?
Little girl: Oh, my grandfather is really busy at the moment. Umm...
Me: Sorry, I think you misheard me. I meant Mrs. Lilian Smith. Is she there? 
 Little girl: [bursting into tears] My grandma died yesterday. [Full on sobbing]
Me: Umm. I am sorry. Ummm... [Smashes phone onto receiver]

That wasn't in the job description. Perhaps I should have gone for that dish hand job. Fuck.