05 April, 2012

The return of Gertrude

A few posts back, I introduced Gertrude, who works with me. And today we had another Gertrude-typical incident at work.

It went like this.

Gertrude needed to book a hotel room for a conference that she is attending. The rooms had been block-reserved by the conference organisers and she had been given a reference number to quote so that she would be charged the conference rate for her room booking. All she had to do was ring the hotel and make the reservation. Shouldn't be hard, should it?

Think again.

Gertrude took the portable phone out of the office to make the call. When she returned a few minutes later, I had a conversation with her that ran like this:

Gertrude: 'I couldn't get through.'

Me: 'What do you mean? Were they engaged?'

Gertrude: 'I don't know. There didn't seem to be an engaged tone. What should I do?'

Me: 'Did you dial 9 for an outside line first?'

Gertrude: 'No, no one told me that I had to do that.'*

(*Gertrude has made plenty of outside calls from this phone before.)

Slight pause.

Gertrude: 'Would you make the call for me?'

This woman is 40 years old. She has worked for several large organisations in the past, as well as ours. Yet she is apparently incapable using a work phone to make a hotel booking.

My eyes water.

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