I curse Alexander Graham Bell daily....

Your Snarkiness,

I am not certain if you will find this as amusing as I did, but on the off-chance it will brighten your day as your blog continuously enlightens mine, I decided that I would send it to you. I currently work at a corporate law office, and usually have to deal with a completely different brand of nitwittery. However, I just had a conversation that I think was more along your line.

Me: "Sparkly, Shiny, and Stupid Things*, how may I help you?"

Caller: "Uh..."

Me: "How may I help you?"

Caller: "Uh, yeah...I'd like to get my book published?"

Me: *holding in the laughter* "I'm sorry, this is a sparkly, shiny, and stupid things office. We wouldn't be able to help you with that."

Caller: "Oh."

Me: "But off-hand, I can suggest that you look into getting an agent, or looking up publishing companies online."

Caller: "Yeah, thanks."

Me: *Points at the phone and starts cracking up*

So out of morbid curiosity, tell me, have you ever had to deal with an inquiry by phone? Just how fast would he have been laughed out of town if he actually had managed to connect to the correct party?

I trust that Killer Yapp will accept some home-made chocolate chip cookies, and that you enjoy, if not my story, then the pint of gin sent along with my regards.

Sadly, KY is still a dog, and thus unable to eat chocolate. Miss Snark bravely takes on the role of chocolate chip cookie tester. She will be glad to discuss your efforts. Each cookie is rated separately so plan on a dozen at least.

(wiping mouth with sleeve)

Telephone Nitwittery!

1. "Do you accept phone queries"
2. "Are you still alive"

3. "I'll be in New York on Tuesday, can I meet you"/"I'm in your lobby, why won't your security guy let me in"

4. "Where are you?"

5. "I have a great idea, do you know any writers"
6. "I'm calling a few select agents to see who's interested in bidding on my project"

7. "This is the NY Public Library. We'd like to speak to you about a patron named K. Yapp who seems to have returned a book on "obedience for people"with tooth marks...and something that looks like a torn pink tam"

8. "Are you an agent?"
9. "Are you a girl or a man"

and my all time favorite call from "an agent referral service" which I get about once a year:

AR: we keep lists of all the active agents and have 20 questions to ask you
MS: Do you charge people money"
AR: some of our lists are free
MS: Don't list me, please
AR: all the agents want to be listed with us.
MS: A minus one then; don't list me
AR: We'll just list you as non-responsive
MS: Fuck off and die isn't non responsive. It's the response everyone is thinking when they talk to you.


Anonymous said...

I had the strangest thing happen today. I was going to snail mail query an agent, however the agent had the kind of name where I couldn't tell if he was male or female.

Since I know how much agents hate being called 'he' when they're really a 'she', I took a chance and called the agent's office to make sure.

This particular agent answered the phone and I explained why I was calling. The agent asked what kind of query I was sending, I told him, and he told me I could fax it to him if I liked.

I have NEVER had an agent ask me to FAX a query! But apparently he doesn't have an email address.

This seems very strange to me... But I faxed it anyway, just in case.

kitty said...

I worked in a shoe store and got some strange calls.

1) Can you give me the number for Bass Shoes?

2) What's playing at the movie theater tonight?

3) Do you sell Nikes?
No, we only sell Acme brand.
Okay, do you sell Skeechers?
No, we sell only Acme brand.
Okay then, do sell New Balance?

4)Female caller: Can you tell me if there's a guy waiting out front of the restaurant across the street?
Me: Yes, in fact there is.
Female: What does he look like? I mean, is he good looking?
Me: Hmmmm. Well, he's short, bald, maybe early 50s, rather stocky.
Female: Darn. Then would you tell him that his date can't make it?

Elizabeth said...

I work in a hospital. While I’ve fielded some amazing phone calls, this one tops the list:

3:07 p.m., Sept. 11, 2001

Caller: HI! THIS is JIM Jones of ACME Printing!!! How are YOU today Ms. KREcker?

Me: Have you seen the news?

Caller: Yeah, terrible stuff going on back east. But THAT’s not WHY I called! I called because I think ACME Printing can REAlly HELP you OUT!!!

Me: Excuse me, where do you live?

Caller: Why, I live in CHANDler, ARIZona Ms. KREcker, why DO you ASK??

Me: I thought maybe you lived under a rock.

Caller: HA HA HA HA!! Funny, Ms. KREcker!!! But THAT’s NOT why I called EITHer. I think ACME Printing can REAlly help YOU improve YOUR company’s BOTTOM LINE!!!!

Me: Do you realize who you’re calling?

Caller: Uh...bub…dduh….what do you mean?


Caller: I’m sorry is this not a good time?

Me: Click.

Elizabeth said...

P.S. I didn't make that up.

Miss Snark said...

An agent without email??
Holy Yaak Valley, Batman, that fella is REALLY off the grid.

Simon Haynes said...

My parents used to have a phone number only one digit different from the nearest chinese takeaway. Every night we'd get 3 or 4 people ringing to place an order, usually when we were happily vegging out.
Fed up with this, my dad started taking their orders, usually with some cunning variations and sudden deafness thrown in. Sometimes he played 'see how long I can keep them on the phone' and sometimes it was just a brief 'I'm sorry, the chef's just been sick in the soup'
The moral of this story is: dial very, very carefully.

Anonymous said...

Or if he's got one, he isn't telling anyone, LOL.

Anonymous said...

I'm not real sure what I read here. It sounds an awful lot like you are making a mockery of folks honest mistakes and attempts at learning who to call for assistance. There's nothing wrong with calling a business direct and getting the right person or the wrong person? I don't understand.
We all get calls that are like these...
Never mind, I just realized that your id name fits this entry to a tee.
Good call!

Anonymous said...

"Fuck off and die isn't non responsive. It's the response everyone is thinking when they talk to you."

*falls about giggling*

This is why I remain a dedicated follower of the Ms Snark Blog.

- Dedicated Servant

Buffy said...

If only I could be so bold!!!

Anonymous said...

There's always this one:

Me: Hello
Caller: Can you hold on a second?
Me: No (hang up)

Call me when you are ready to talk. Especially since I HATE talking on the phone.

Termagant 2 said...

Like Elizabeth, I work in a hospital. Some time back, my sis told me a friend had been sick (in a different hospital), and had gone home on Tuesday.

I pass by a ringing phone in the office (not my phone). I pick it up. It's Bad Breath Insurance Company, wanting to know when MY FRIEND had been discharged.

I smile an evil smile. "Tuesday May 2," I say very nicely. "From St. Elsewhere, though, not here."

Silence on the line. Insurance rep breathes, in awe, "How did you DO that?"

Another evil smile. "We have our ways," say I, and hang up.

Leaving her, I hope, breathless at the extreme efficiency of OUR hospital and the brilliance of its personnel...

(sigh) That was a once-only experience. But ya gotta love it.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see this topic on a blog some day: *AGENT CONFESSIONS* - in which the intrepid agent fesses up to all the times she broke her own rules.

Like when big-name movie chick called and cooed: "Hi, darling agent. It's me, JLo Aniston. I'm writing a book called Movie Chick - Uncovered! I'm in New York now - can we do lunch? Are you a girl, by the way? Oh good. Meet me in, let's see, ten minutes? See you, then."

Said agent, of course, did not say "fuck off and die, didn't you read my guidelines?" Uh-uh. Agent canceled appointment with long-standing client sitting in the lobby, leapfrogged over desk, colleagues and slush pile and hightailed it across town to fancy restaurant - where she paid the tab.

Then she hauled the precious ms back to the office, discovered that it's handwritten in eyebrow pencil on Post-its and didn't turn a hair.

"I remember rejecting that Grisham guy years ago. Told him I liked his 'voice' but the stuff wouldn't sell."

Now THAT would make great reading.

H. Sapiens said...

Dear Miss Snark,
Thank you for taking the time to provide helpful information. What's your take on titles? I hate thinking up titles and would like to title all future work "Untitled." Plus it seems that agents and editors (Evil Editor comes to mind) always change authors' titles. Same for revising - why pretend to be submitting a final draft to an agent or editor? The thing's not done till the boards hit the shelf. I should also like to publish under "Anonymous" from this point forward - as Foucault suggests. "Untitled" by Anonymous eliminates many anal-ytic problems for the critics, right?

Anonymous said...

Like anonymous #1, I've found way too many agents with ambiguous names. My usual recourse is to Google him/her to death. Even then, there's usually no sign of whether a female agent prefers Miss, Ms., or Mrs. Although I know it's a personal point with you, Miss Snark, I always use Ms. because I have no way of knowing for them. And you wouldn't want to be interrupted with a phone call just to figure out your honorific, would you?

-A, female

bordermoon said...

I work in a library. My favorite question is "Do you have a book?"

(Of course, what the person meant to say, is, do you have a book by this particular title? I hope.)

tlc said...

When my aunt worked at a hospital, she got a call from a frantic woman who said she was bleeding. When asked where the bleeding was coming from, the woman replied, "I'm bleeding from Glendale."

Mark said...

Yaak Valley indeed. Long live the Dirty Shame Saloon.

Bill Thompson said...

I know this sounds like an urban legend, but it honestly happened at a radio station I once worked for.

Caller: Did you know you're off the air?

Receptionist: Yes, the transmitter was hit by lightning.

Caller: Well, can't you make an announcement or something?

Carter said...

Truly a morass of nitwits.

down_not_out said...

MS: Fuck off and die isn't non responsive. It's the response everyone is thinking when they talk to you.

I love you so much.


Thanks for the giggle.

litagent said...

I do not publish an agency phone number, specifically for these reasons. My stationery does list my numbers, so current authors and editors know them, but inevitably, every few weeks, some enterprising writer will track down my home phone number because he "couldn't find the agency number." It never ceases to amaze me.

If you don't know the gender of the person you are writing to, the accepted practice is to use first and last name, without the courtesy title.

Rei said...

Okay, I'll chime in with my example.

I checked my email at work and got one from my partner, complaining at home that she couldn't send or receive emails.

I thought about it for a minute, then sent her a response: "Yes, you can."

NĂ© said...

Here's another one: while working late at night, my dad (an engineer) and several of his colleagues would receive confusing calls with strange requests…like, *send a girl over*, or *I’d like a date to show up at 1 am*, or *what OTHER services do you provide*. So someone finally asked where they got the number from…

*the phone book*
*the phone book?*
*yeah, under entertainment*
*yeah, it says you’ve got girls*

Turns out that Entertainment is listed directly next to Engineering, where you would have found “Dames & Moore”….engineering.

alau said...

Isn't it general professional practice for women to be referred to as Ms. as the default?

Maybe it's just my profession...

BuffySquirrel said...

My husband had a wrong number on his mobile (cell phone) once. The complete stranger on the other end got quite agitated and asked my husband, "So, what IS X's number, then?".

Susan Henderson said...


Ralph said...

A bit of an aside, but number 5 ("I've got an idea, do you know any writers") is the biggest thorn in my side, as a writer. It goes like this:

Our Favorite Writer sits in bar and orders something with alcohol in it. He sips his beverage and looks off into space, experimentally putting words together in his head.

Guy On Next Stool, unfamiliar with the idea of people thinking in bars, strikes up a conversation.

OFW tries without success to mentally file the fragment he was teasing into shape, and accepts that being in public entitles people to talk to you. He is not sure who made this rule, but there you go.

Because there really is no reason for GONS and Our Favorite Writer to be speaking with each other, within five sentences of the opening gambit comes the question, "So what do you do?"

I do a lot of things, Our Favorite Writer thinks to himself, I drink single-malt scotch. I complain too much. I lose things. I have a knack for divorce. But of course GONS wants to know how Our Favorite Writer puts beans on the table. OFW toys with the idea of saying "I hang drywall" or "I'm an astrophysicist," but whatever he chooses will miraculously be fascinating to GONS, and only add fuel to the conversation. OFW sighs and says, "I'm a writer."

"Really? That's cool, 'cause I have this great idea..."

Usually the great idea is an autobiography. "'Cause if you knew the shit I've seen..."

I have finally found the correct response to Guy On Next Stool's great idea. "Ideas aren't worth the paper they're wiped on."

Whoo. I feel better now. I really do complain too much.

Daisy said...

I'll admit, I am one of those nitwits who once called an agency to ask what gender an agent with an ambiguous name was. In my defense, I had had been advised to do just that by multiple sources (including the book in which I found the name), as a way of avoiding the extreme embarassment of addressing the agent as the wrong gender. And I didn't give my name- I'm not a total nitwit.

Jude Hardin said...

How crude of you, Miss Snark.

I prefer to limit the expletives when dealing with an obtrusive errant caller.

I tell them to please call an escort service from The Bates Motel.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes being an almost nitwit can work out. I faxed the query letter the agent requested, and today he called me and asked for the first 50 pages.

Turns out that although this agent doesn't have email or a website, he is a long time agent with a pretty impressive history. And he's sold some very well known and popular books.

Anonymous said...

I work in a library. I once had an irate patron call me and this was her opening statement.

"Hello, my name is Stupid Girl, and I checked out a book in December of last year. I received a bill from you people because I didn't return the book. If I knew I had to return it, I never would have borrowed it."

Safety warnings and lawyers are getting in the way of natural selection.

Pixel Faerie said...

Ah, the phone. I hate the phone too but sometimes, you get those that makes it all worth while.

Me: Hello! This is the Holliday Inn, the small motel not associated with the chain. How can I help you?

Person: I'd like a room, ocean side.

Me: We're a block from the ocean, but I'd be happy to book you a room closest to the ocean.

Person: I thought you had ocean front rooms.

Me: Perhaps you have mistaken us for the Holiday Inn on the beach.

Person: Aren't you Holiday Inn.

Me: This is the Holliday Inn, a motel not associated with the chain.

Person: ... You mean this isn't the Holiday Inn?

Me: ... No. Would you like the number?


I feel for all you people who would like to kick Mr. Bell in the buttocks for his 'clever' invention.

E. Ann Bardawill said...

This is a true exchange.

Me: Thanks you for calling ACME. How may I direct your call?

Frequent Caller: Is Mr. Manager available?

Me: No, he's married. But he seems pretty open minded.

Frequent Caller :**Sounds of spitting coofee**

Miss Snark said...

**Another** keyboard...killed.
I'm getting Comment Insurance.