In the course of human interactions, we often find ourselves in situations where we are expected to be kind when we would like nothing better than to tell the truth as we see it. As a receptionist, I am all too familiar with this phenomenon on a daily basis. Let’s imagine the following scenes. The snarky, unspoken thoughts are in italics.
DISCLAIMER: These are meant only for fun. I am not trying to insult anyone. Actually, I am a pretty empathetic person most of the time, and there have been many times in my life when I have been the person trying someone else’s patience.
SILENTLY SNARKY EXAMPLE NO. 1
RECEPTIONIST: Big Important Graduate School.
CALLER: (after a pause) Hello?
RECEPTIONIST: Big Important Graduate School. I might as well repeat it again. My boss thinks I have nothing to do, anyway.
CALLER: Isn’t this Big Important University?
RECEPTIONIST: This is Big Important University’s graduate school. Were you looking for the undergraduate school? Maybe you’re looking for the Remedial Department.
CALLER: I think so. Is there a difference? I want to talk about applying.
RECEPTIONIST: Ohh- KAY! Here we go! Well yes, there is a difference. The graduate school is for those who already have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. If you have a college degree, I fear for the future of the world.
CALLER: Oh. Uh. I’m a junior in high school.
RECEPTIONIST: Whew! I was afraid there for a minute! Okay. Let me put you through to the undergraduate school. Hold on a moment.
SILENTLY SNARKY EXAMPLE NO. 2
RECEPTIONIST: Big Important Graduate School
CALLER: My name is Mrs. Mom, and my son has been accepted into your school. He’ll be starting in the fall. I just have a question. Have I called the right number?
RECEPTIONIST: Yes, Ma’am. Why do incoming grad students make their parents call us? The parents are three times more confused than the students, and the students are so confused their brain cells are running loose in their heads trying to find each other.
CALLER: We made arrangements for our son to come and visit us just before classes start in the fall. We are about 1,800 miles away from you. Other students are telling my son that they have to be there early for registration and orientation. Will our son have to be there?
RECEPTIONIST: Why don’t you just drop him by parachute into his first class? Let me check the academic calendar for you. … Well, registration takes place during the week before classes, and yes, there will be some orientations going on. D’oh! If your son didn’t think of this possibility, you should re-test his IQ. I don’t have a complete calendar yet, but yes, I believe it would be to your son’s advantage to be here, especially since he is a new student. And when your next offspring goes to grad school, try not to schedule a faraway family get-together right before the first day of class.
CALLER: Well, okay. Thank you.
RECEPTIONIST: You’re welcome.
SILENTLY SNARKY EXAMPLE NO. 3
I would like to set the scene for this one. Picture it: a long checkout line at a large branch of a nationwide drug store chain. There are only two cashiers on duty. A customer with a whole cart full of items, including six bottles of Jergens lotion, is being checked through.
CUSTOMER: That can’t be right, what you just put in there. These lotions are on sale, buy two get one free.
CASHIER: How many times do I have to explain this to the whole world? That’s right, Ma’am. The price adjustment automatically appears when I scan the third bottle.
CUSTOMER: But I’m not buying three bottles. I’m buying six of them. I’m supposed to get two of them free.
CASHIER: I’ll bet you flunked math and your teachers passed you because you got to be too old to look good in a prom dress. That’s okay, Ma’am. The scanner will adjust so that you get six bottles for the price of four, just as you are supposed to.
CUSTOMER: That means two free ones, right?
CASHIER: No. We’re lying to you. We always lie to you. Because that’s what we do. Yes, Ma’am. Two free ones.
CUSTOMER: You know, I think I should buy three more of them while they’re still on sale. Watch my stuff for me, okay? I’ll be right back.
CASHIER: Oh joy! I get to stand here like an idiot and babysit your stuff while those ten people in line glare at me. Okay, but hurry, please.
NEXT CUSTOMER IN LINE: What’s her problem?
CASHIER: I wish I knew. I’d cure it.