Here’s the setting: yesterday, I’m volunteering at the museum instead of working on my research paper (because I refuse to let this class defeat me the way last semester’s class did!) and both the sole employee on the premises and the intern were both off on tours, so I was the only one in the basement office when the phone rang. Meaning I had to answer it.
Now, I hate answering phones. I don’t even like to answer my own phone. Answering the museum’s phone is even more awkward, because there’s a script, which I’m entirely incapable of following, apparently. I know I’m supposed to start off by saying “Thank you for calling the [name] Museum, this is [my name]. How may I help you?” But instead is just sort of say the name of the museum, and maybe ask if I can help them. Maybe.
But I can’t say “Thank you for calling” with a straight face. I’m just not a good enough actress, not these days. Because I’m not grateful they called. If I was being honest, I’d pick up the phone and say something like “What’s the matter with you for calling when there’s no one else down here to answer the phone? Are you trying to torture me or something?” and then hang up. Fortunately for everyone involved, I’m neither that honest nor that courageous.
So, back to that particular phone call, I answer it, make my fumbling statement, and then the woman on the other end of the phone says she was calling to see if we were open (they always say that; it’s so annoying!) and what our hours were. So I tell her that we’re open until 4:00 but no tours can start after 3:30 because they take half an hour to forty-five minutes to complete. She says she’s already en route (God, I hope she wasn’t the one driving!) and then she asks the question. The one that’s the reason I’m telling you this story.
“Do you have any problems with theft in your parking lot?”
First off, astonishingly rude thing to ask. Yes, we’re in a downtown locale, but no, the locale is not in a bad neighborhood as such. I wouldn’t recommend camping out in the museum’s backyard, but there are bars and restaurants all up and down the street, and a major tourist attraction just a block away. And, of course, if the parking lot was dangerous, then the museum would be at fault for any damages caused in the parking lot, in that if there were repeated break-ins to locked cars, then we would seem criminally irresponsible for not taking security measures. So, yeah, major points against this woman for asking such a tactless and rude question.
The problem is that I didn’t hear “theft.” I heard “death.” I’m sitting here thinking “is she asking me if we have many murders in the parking lot?” Amusing as that concept was (the concept of the question, not the concept of murders in the parking lot) I had a feeling that that couldn’t possibly be what she was asking.
I had to ask her to repeat it several times before I got it. Then I was so flummoxed that I couldn’t come up with any better answer than “no, we don’t.” I should have said something like “I’ve been here for four years, and haven’t heard of any.” Or something a little more concrete and, you know, sentient. Unfortunately, I just can’t connect my mouth and my brain anymore. I can only express my thoughts through my fingers.
Which sounds a little dirty when I put it like that. (Or perhaps I just have a dirty mind?)
Aaaaaaaanyway, I have to read at least two more 25-30 page articles tonight so I can start writing my paper first thing tomorrow, so I better just sign off.
Thursday’s myth–whatever it ends up being–is likely to be a very short one. Especially in that I may have to write it after I get back from class. Depends on how the writing goes tomorrow.