Friday, October 22, 2004

A Telephone Non-Conversation at the Library

Me: [name of library], may I help you?
?: Russian?
Me: No, I don't speak Russian.
?: No Russian?
Me: No Russian. I speak English.
?: English?
Me: Yes, English.
?: English?
Me: Yes, English.
?: (silence)
Me: May I help you with something?
?: (says something in Russian)
Me: No Russian. I can't understand you.
?: No Russian?
Me: English. No Russian. (second phone line rings), hold on a moment. (I put ? on hold to get other call and put it on hold, ? hangs up)

And so it goes. I feel bad I couldn't communicate with this person. This is one of the very few times I wish S hadn't retired 7 or so years ago. She could speak Russian, Yiddish, and German which was very helpful with our non-English-speaking patrons. Unfortunately, her language skills were her only real people skills.

Fortunately, the rest of the calls I handled today were pleasant and I was able to help the callers with what they needed so feeling useful wins over feeling frustrated today.