Thursday, 30 May 2013


Many moons ago (well, until October 2003. So actually it WAS practically another lifetime ago!) I worked for directory enquiries supplying numbers to Cable & Wireless users, as well as various other service providers such as One-tel, NTL and Tesco. I worked there for nearly a year and a half and, in that time, I came to realise that some of the callers were . . . (how can I put this nicely? really, I can't!) . . . kind of strange!


Well, first of all, there were the jokers (at least I hope they were joking and not simply psychotic). For example, I got a call from a woman asking for the number of "The Moon". I assumed she meant a nightclub or similar establishment, so asked the next scripted question "Which town, please?"

"TOWN???" she exclaimed. "I'm talking about the moon IN THE SKY!" Barely able to contain my giggles (or fear) I pointed out we did not supply listings for the moon. "Then how am I supposed to get in touch with my husband?" she shouted. Then proceeded to hang up. Well, that was a waste of money for her. But it provided ME with some amusement, as well as a story to tell my co-workers on my next break!

Then there were the downright weirdos who treated directory enquiries like it was a sex hotline. The ones who would phone up and ask dirty questions. i usually stayed on the line and laughed at them - it was a break in the routine at least. Then there was the guy who phoned up and, er, pleasured himself into my headset. I didn't hang up immediately as he was breathless and moaning and part of me thought he was perhaps having a heart attack and I should try and transfer him round to the 999 side of the office. But when he finished up and said "Thank you, pet," before hanging up, I realised I should have gone with my first instinct! (I MAY have blogged about that before - it seems suitably TMI Thursday-ish)

But, most of all, there were the silly people. Sorry, I know we have all probably phoned some sort of business, be it directory enquiries or something else, and asked something stupid or made a fool of ourselves in the past, but when you're exposed to it everyday, it can start to drive you more than a little crazy!

I came across this following list which I posted on an old blog so thought I would re-post it. I made it up one day back in the old Directory Enquiries days (we didn't have email and used to have to do things like write each other notes to keep ourselves entertained) when I was bored.

This is an example of the sort of calls I used to have to deal with . . .

1)"Can I have the number for Mrs Brown in London? No I don't have an address, how many Browns can there be in London?" (Do they REALLY want to know?)

2) "Can you give me the number of my friend Clare, she lives just around the corner from me?" (Yes, they REALLY say that!)

3) "I'm on a mobile so hurry up. But I'm going to make you go as slow as I possibly can by mumbling and forgetting what I'm asking for so that I can moan at you for being an idiot." (okay, so they don't use those exact words. but that's what they mean!)

4)"Can I have a company called Slasheshmac please? That's in Larshmerkalmagndin. What do you mean, how do you spell the town? It's Y-A-T-M-C-W-R-U-G-T. Are you stupid? Yes, that IS in Wales, how could you tell?" (no offence to the welsh - just please don't expect me to know how to spell anything you ask for!)

5)"Can you give me the number of the laundrette in Manchester? No, I'm sorry love I don't know the name of it. What street? Sorry, I don't know that either but it's right next to the railway station, if that helps!" (it doesn't actually!)

6) "I was hoping you could help me find a number. The name is [crackle mumble crackle] and the address is [mumble crackle} in [crackle crackle]. Do you think you could find that for me?" (highly unlikely unless I have psychic powers i haven't detected yet)

7)"Oh, you're Scottish! Do you not do London numbers then?" (yes, the database is automatically limited for those of us who work in scotland, you know!)

8)"Oh I've forgotten what i'm looking for, i've been waiting for so long for someone to answer the phone." (oh wait I'll just go and recruit some new staff to answer the phones for you, since i seem to be being held personally responsible for staff shortages!)

9)"Can I have Petronello's in Wilson Street? What do you mean, which town? London, of course!" (London-centrism goes mad!)

10)"Can I have Petronello's in Wilson Street? What do you mean, which town? Larshmerkalmagndin, of course! Wasn't it obvious?" (er, no!)

11) "Hello? Is this directory enquiries?" (Funny I could have sworn I just told you that!)

12) "Can I have a telephone number please?" (REALLY? from directory enquiries? surely not?)

13) "I want five numbers." (Why are some people so GREEDY?)

14) "Well, BT offer you two searches, why can't you?" (Because we WANT to be abused by callers, of course!)

15) "What day is it today?"

16) "What time is it?"

17) "What's the number where you can find out the time?" (If you're going to annoy me anyway, why don't you just ask ME for the time?)

18) "Are you wearing any knickers?" (Hold on, let me just check . . .)

19) "Hi, it's me again!" (WHO?)

Good thing I'm not working there still! I would have gone insane by now!!!


  1. You must have had the patience of a saint! I giggled a bit reading these but I know I would crack up having to deal with it xo

  2. Oh yes, I worked in a national call center for a bank. I remember lots of calls where people would ask things that had nothing to do with banking, or ask for directions to a specific location thinking I was in the same town/state as them, getting angry at me because they don't know how to balance their checkbook, etc. I learned a lot from that job, but I wouldn't want to do it again!

  3. Ohhhh I can identify with so many of these! "Hello, Lucy speaking" > "Is that Lucy?" and "Hello, it's Sue, you emailed me last week *expectant pause*" > Sue pet, I sent 758 emails last week, I'm gonna need more to go on!!

  4. OMG! I so couldn't do a job like this!! Some crazy people out there! I think I would just laugh at them...not in a mean way... or may'be, some of those questions!! lol


  5. Customer stupidity is like a bottomless well. Having spent time fielding dumb questions in a variety of customer service positions, i feel the pain you must have endured!


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