The Bank Holiday Caller

Throughout my life responding to the whims of my consuming public, there have always been a certain number of Unreasonable People who have rather curious expectations of what I should be providing to them.

This was illustrated to no bigger extent today – a bank holiday – when the phone rang at 6:30pm. Until that point, as far as I had been aware (as I’m not always there to hear the landline ringing) – it had been a quiet weekend. Exactly what you might expect on a bank holiday weekend. No calls. Good.

But someone did ring at 6:30pm. A few points.

It was a bank holiday.

Even if it wasn’t a bank holiday, it was out of hours anyway.

They didn’t leave a message.

Because I am such a neurotic individual, shortly afterwards I did 1471 to find out the number, and perhaps cross-reference it against my phonebook to see if I could track down the anti-social individual. Tragically, there was no match.

But then my brain was getting really annoyed with this person. I decided I would try to hold back on my anger. They may have forgotten what type of day it was. They may have forgotten the time. It happens. I have quite a few retired customers to whom the weekends are just another day. Every day is a weekend.

So if that was the case, they would call back tomorrow.

They didn’t. They didn’t even call back the next day. Or the next. Or the next.

So what is the mentality of this person? It is an exercise in futility to get angry over things like this, but I do. I can’t help it. I have tried to stop my brain being so obsessed with social norms and customs like this, but at times I feel more like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. It just happens…

What kind of person gives ONE opportunity to take their custom, and offers it at such an incredibly inconvenient and thoughtless time? One single call, leaving no message, on the evening of a bank holiday day?

If they’d left a message, it would have eased my entire worries. Leaving a message is a tacit admission of “I will wait for when it is a more convenient moment for you” – that is OK. It recognises that you are not the centre of the universe, and that just because it is convenient for you right at this moment, it might not be convenient for the object of your call.

Over time my brain has come to accept that these things are inevitable. There are some massively rude people out there. They could even be the type of people where, should the boot me on the other foot, and I call them at 10pm at night, they would be greatly offended. Rude, rude, rude. They are out there. I know all too well from my brothers who have worked in call centres.

I also wonder, if I had answered the call, would they have said something like, “Oh I wasn’t expecting you to answer!” – I have heard that before when I’ve answered calls at slightly odd times, which I used to do a lot more than I do now. In fact, I try to be very strict with the cut off times now.

I honestly never thought I’d be able to exercise my social observation powers so much through business. An unfortunate, and unwanted, side-effect.

Then again, I guess not everyone’s like me.

And the customer is not always right.


Dividing A Brain

In recent weeks, I have been putting my brain through its multi-tasking paces.

In some respects, multi-tasking is a fallacy. Multi-tasking is actually the ability to jump from one single task to another, and know where you are at when you make that leap. It’s not actually physically possible to be doing multiple tasks simultaneously, since we only have one brain, and one pair of hands.

But right at this moment, the number of projects I have been juggling is truly phenomenal. Keeping everyone happy has been the biggest problem, but the real difficulty is the mental strain it puts me under. Knowing where each project is at at every moment, and able to smoothly glide into the job when the time comes – or when the customer rings – is an incredible challenge.

I’ve got to be honest, I don’t feel like I’m doing very well at it at the moment. I feel like I am constantly moving forward at a snail’s pace, but the finish line is three miles in the distance. Progress is made, but I never actually feel like I’m getting anywhere. Mired down deep in the trenches all the time is starting to make me miss the bigger picture.

And I find the whole thing more stressful too. I don’t believe that I am getting anywhere near enough sleep as a result of all this worry. The other night I genuinely went to bed at 8:30pm. It was still light outside. But I just felt so totally and utterly drained that switching off for the maximum time possible was all I could do. Amazingly, I clocked up 9.5 hours sleep, which is not like me at all.

I totted up the amount of projects I’m juggling lately… and by “projects” I mean long-running commitments like websites and businesses who need longer support. It’s now over 20, and seems to be added to as the weeks go by without other things being drawn to a conclusion. As a businessman, when the customer comes to you with work handed to you on a plate, only a fool says no…

The system also seems to have got worse in recent weeks. A friend of mine has approached me about becoming the Operations Director of his new company. It is a very exciting prospect, exactly what I think I’d be good at. But it’s a huge leap into the unknown and a bit different to what I’m already doing.

I think I’ll do it, as I fancy a challenge, but I do worry about what will happen to my business. I do worry that I will struggle to keep everyone happy.

It’s going to need a lot of my cheeky charm…