Portsmouth Water — 4 weeks in & ring-ring, ring-ring…

Hmm? What? That’s me! Oh, erm, ah —

You’ve guessed it, I’ve been on the phones — the dreaded phones, those same phones that would’ve rendered me speechless had I answered them a week ago — and it turns out that I was mating with fuss for nothing.

Monday was mock-phone-call day and Tuesday was THE day when Tracy tethered herself to my phone and listened in on my calls, and the same went for Wednesday and Thursday, but on Friday I was let loose on my own! Tracy sat herself at the desk beside me and got on with her own work, and she only reacted when I needed her (which was often). There were no major disasters, though, and I found it quite enjoyable.

communication-1015376_960_720Speechless? Not at all, instead I’m the opposite and chatting away the wait for the computer to catch up with us; and when it comes to resolving the cause for their call I know a little before I have to put them on hold.


The hardware (the phone) is an actual phone with a button-washed base and a display that displays things like numbers and words. Its receiver is corded and sits in a cradle that has some contraption fussing near the hook. There is a hairband sat in its own cradle nearby (they call it a headset but it’s really a hairband) and on this hairband there’s an ear-come-mouthpiece thing that’s wireless and important I keep charged. There’s a button on the ear-bit directly opposite where my lug’ole goes, and the mouth-stem thing sticks out just far enough so I can catch it in my periphery vision and panic, wondering what the hell’s hovering by my mouth.

I find myself swatting it away occasionally, and I’ve only just realised what that must sound like down the line…

So, the phone goes ‘ring-ring, ring-ring —’

And there’s a beep in my ear and I press the nearby button and up pops the receiver, pushed up by that fussing contraption, and then I wait a second for the call to connect, and then say:

“Good morning / afternoon *, Portsmouth Water, you’re through to Tom — may I take your customer account number or your postcode please? Yep, ah-ha, thank you — brilliant, now please may you just confirm this, that, and the other for me — brilliant, thank you, how may I help you today?”

* The teeter at noon is a stumper!

males-1002779_960_720And then they explain why they’ve called and I either know what I’m doing or I don’t, and once the phone-call is done I type up the notes and remember things I should’ve said and / or done — at least a hindsight efficiency is better than none.

Most of the calls I’ve received have replicated the things I’ve been doing whilst processing the PDF post, and all I need do is ask the caller the questions the answers for which I would usually find on the form, but there have been some calls I’ve not PDF processed before.

Leaks, for example, and leak allowances — yesterday I played middleman between Clare the manager and a customer with a leaking supply pipe. I’m not certain what we did, but Clare has assured me that the situation is en route to being resolved.

After each call I’ve been told that I’ve done good — there are a few things I’m forgetting and I’m saying some things strangely, ofttimes backwards, but it’s only been 4 days of 4 weeks, and really only about 6 hours, so I’m currently excused — and knowing what I know so far of those giving me feedback their “you’ve done good” isn’t a coop “you’ve done good” but encouragement and praise, and I quite like those things, I could get used to them.

One thing, though…

This is not at all a complaint, it’s an observation — on Tuesday I found myself sifting through the hardcopy received mail for a bit of post that I couldn’t read on its PDF copy. The radio was on so I was having a bit of a boogie to a good song I didn’t know, wishing I could’ve Shazam’d it (my phone wasn’t with me), when I noticed something — the hardcopy mail smells like a freshly embalmed body in a fresh-from-the-factory casket, you know the type, American-style metal with the split lid and satin-like lining.

I wouldn’t mind so much (the smell isn’t particularly offensive, it’s just sweet chemicals) if it didn’t linger in my throat and taint my tastebuds for days.

When I raised this I was told that only I could smell such a specific scent from hardcopy mail — this is something I can’t deny, but it does provoke the thought: What are the public doing with the mail before sending it back?

Have a great weekend!

Tomos James