So Now I’m A Gatekeeper

Yesterday I was called a “gatekeeper”.  The tone of voice with which the message was delivered indicated disgust.

I’m always, ALWAYS surprised in the tone that people take with someone they don’t even know.  It’s everywhere, and seems especially prevalent on faceless entities like FaceBook and the comment section of newspapers and blogs.

I’m hardly a gatekeeper.  I’m more of a facilitator.  It’s true, I took the test.  I want everyone to play nice and to get along.  I personally get my feelings hurt fairly easily, especially when it’s delivered with a message like, “Oh, toughen up.”

I’m not going to get any tougher than I already am.  Telling someone not to be so nice does not add to the teller’s charm.  Rather, it makes for the opposite effect.  If you are going to talk crappy to me, then I’m not going to talk to you at all.  I’ll give you one chance past your initial crappy remark, and if you fail that chance, you weren’t that much to lose.

Yesterday, I was helping out the BabyBoy at the grooming shop by hanging around and generally being useless, and occasionally answering the phone if he was otherwise engaged, like bathing a dog.  As luck would have it, the phone rang, and the caller ID showed that it was a toll-free number, meaning solicitor, but I answered the phone anyway.

Sure enough,  a young gentleman, and I use that word loosely, asked for the previous owner.  I replied that they sold the business, so the g-man said that he wanted to speak to the current owner.

It must be a sad sort of existence to have to make those kind of phone calls for a living.  It would probably make you desperate, and angry at your fate that has fallen so low, and it could possibly make you lash out at the very people that you want to buy your products and/or services.  A true fail/fail.

I replied that the owner was absentee, so then you and I know the next step is for the g-man to ask for someone in charge, a manager, or a decision maker.  He assumed that I was not in charge.  He’s calling a small business, and if he had done his homework, he should know that lots of people in small businesses wear many hats, and they might even, God forbid, answer the telephone.

While it’s true that I’m not in charge, I do have some influence, and I have been answering the telephone in an office setting since 1972, shortly after we stopped using the two-cans-linked-with-a-string method.  I really do know what I’m doing, and I know that telemarkets pollute the circuits, and tie up phone lines, and whatever his service is, the grooming shop probably doesn’t need it.  There’s a good steady business now, and if your service is to make our website get more hits, why would we want more hits?  Global hits don’t translate into business for a small town pet grooming salon.

If someone is grooming your dog, do you want them to step away from the personal attention they are giving your dog, which would mean possibly leaving your dog unattended, and take an unsolicited sales call?  That’s such a ridiculous question on my part because you, faithful reader, ain’t no fool.

I told the nice young gentleman that our decision maker was bathing a dog and could not talk.  Of course, the gentleman wants our decision maker’s name.  Does a reasonable person give out such information?  Hmmm, thinking, thinking…

YoursTruly:  You have not yet identified yourself or your company or your purpose for calling.  I do not give out information to unsolicited callers.

Gentleman:  My name is Thomas, and I am calling from the world’s largest web-hosting service.  (I kid you not.  The world’s largest and he doesn’t identify it by name.  Wouldn’t the largest not always be the largest, because those rankings are fluid and dynamic and ever-changing?)

YoursTruly:  Thomas, I’ll take your phone number, and if he wants to, he will call you back.

Gentleman:  (with tone of disgust)  I hear that story all day long from *gatekeepers*, and they never call me back.

YoursTruly:  (Silence because I’m trying to digest that he just called me a gatekeeper.)

YoursTruly:  I don’t even have to talk to you.

Gentleman:  (Loudly)  Well, I don’t have to talk to you, EITHER!

At that point I stopped talking, and hung up.  I didn’t want to hear him singsong, “Nah nah nah nah, nah nah.”

I have been in the customer service field for many years, and yet I am not familiar with this new sales technique of call/vilify/piss-off the customers.  What purpose does that technique serve?  My caller DID go to enough customer service training that he absorbed the words gatekeeper and decision maker.

And from wikipedia, the definition of a gatekeeper.

In the past I would have drafted a letter to the company, but I have embraced new technology.  I’ll just BLOG about it.


5 Responses to “So Now I’m A Gatekeeper”

  1. Becky Says:

    Oh my word, this takes the gate, oops, I mean, cake. I truly can’t believe he thought the words “world’s largest web-hosting service” would make you jump through the hoops. I am trembling in my boots just reading that phrase!! I think he woulda said “nah nah da boo boo” instead, though! Yea, blog about it; it’s not a 2-can-with-a-string world anymore!! 😉


    • ruthrawls Says:

      Oh, I forgot about “nonny nonny, boo boo”!
      I googled “world’s largest web-hosting service”. Heh. It was fun.
      Didn’t we try that 2can/string combo with Betsy J?


      • Becky Says:

        I had forgotten that, but now that ya mention it, it seems like we did. The other day I was recalling us getting on the top bunk and putting a Barbie on a fishing pole to play Mary Poppins! 😀


  2. sharon Says:

    Any gatekeeper worth their salt would have done exactly as you did! On the other-side, it is good he recognized you were a key element in this establishment! lol


    • ruthrawls Says:

      I worked at one place where the receptionists, or whatever term you want for the folks at the front that meet-and-greet, were referred to as the pilots flying the plane.


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