Friday, September 21, 2007

Phone Etiquette, Part One

The other night a client called to talk business at 5:15 pm. Now I don’t know about you, but if I were a businessman calling a soon-to-be single, work-at-home mom I probably wouldn’t call at dinnertime. But that’s just me.

I was in the middle of making spaghetti and my kids, plus one, were playing in the house. It took awhile to clear them from the kitchen, but quite soon I was carrying on an adult conversation about my freelance work. That is until I heard water running.

I asked my client to wait while I checked on my kids. Sure enough they had turned the hose on in the middle of a fair-sized patch of dirt on the side of my house. The water had been on long enough to flood an area big enough for an alligator. A giant, mutant alligator.

“Sorry,” I told my client. “My kids just flooded my yard.” Now I’m not sure, but when does proper phone etiquette require you to say, “Is now a bad time?” Apparently not after your children flood your side yard. We continued our adult conversation about my freelance work.

That is until my children invited a stray dog into my house. And not a tiny, yip-yip dog, but a large golden retriever (yes, it too was the size of a giant, mutant alligator).

I asked my client to hold on while I chased said dog through my house and out the front door. This lonely beast, and the four children who had invited it in, all left muddy footprints from one point of entry to the other.

“Sorry,” I told my client. “My kids just let a stray dog into the house.” Now I’m not sure, but is this the point at which proper phone etiquette requires you to say, “Is now a bad time?” Apparently having a big, stray dog romp through your house like the Pied Piper followed by four muddy children does not warrant it. We continued our conversation.

That is, until I realized that only three of the children who were now romping outside with the muddy dog were fully clothed. Yes, people, my youngest son had stripped naked and was running down the sidewalk, a trail of clothes behind him.

I asked my client to wait while I collected my naked child, brought him into the house and planted him in front of the television. “Sorry,” I told my client. “My son was running around outside, naked.”

I waited, again, for that fateful question. Nothin’. At that point we were able to finish our adult conversation about my freelance work without being interrupted by as much as a boiling pot of spaghetti noodles.

Just so you know, I’ve since looked for the manual on phone etiquette that determines at exactly what point you ask, “Is now a bad time?” I couldn’t find it. But I did find one on common sense and it plainly states: “If, during an important phone conversation, your children flood your yard, invite a stray muddy dog into your home and then chase it down the sidewalk naked, you are required to tell your party, ‘Now is not a good time. Can I call you back?’”

14 comments:

Kristi O said...

I am thinking your new telephone friend doesn't have children or a life. Being the nice person I am, I would have not only said let's finish this after dinner, tomorrow or whenever but I would have sent help. heck, who is this person! On the otherhand, I am glad you are getting some jobs, that is a sure sign that you are moving in the right direction. Hang on dear!!

LikeAstaR said...

THere is something about sales (and being in freelance is DEFINTIELY just taht) that puts you on the hot seat with clients/potential clients. I am sure you handled it with grace!

Rachel said...

Are you sure it wasn't the size of a mutant crocodile? It is kind of hard to tell the difference, sometimes.

suburbancorrespondent said...

I was thinking that the client was ultimately cool for not hanging up and never calling back.

Gustogirl said...

Ugh, I have a hard enough time telling a friend that it isn't a great time, I would probably not mention it to a client either. Sure would have been nice if he would have picked up the situ and asked if he could call you at a better time. Just because you need his business, doesn't mean you don't deserve some courtesy!!!!!

shauna said...

suburbancorrespondent, I have to admit I hadn't thought of it that way. But I've explained to my clients that I'm a work-at-home mom who needs to schedule freelance, including phone calls,around distractions. I've told them I work on their projects in the early morning or late evening and can talk on the phone when my older kids are at school (thank heavens I don't have to talk much on the phone-period). So I was surprised to get an unexpected call after business hours. In hindsight the best option would have been to ask him if I could call him back later. I also failed to mentioned that he was laughing hysterically when I informed him my youngest was running down the sidewalk naked.

And Rachel, it's funny that you mentioned crocodiles, because I actually googled it to see which is bigger (I decided the alligator provided me with the more appealing hyperbole--boy, am I a literary nerd).

JaniceNW said...

LMAO! The joys of children and trying to work at home. My kids don't get maked around me anymore.......but it is still difficult to hard core study when any of the boys(inc. dh)are awake.

I think the client had a sense of humor and was just wanting to know what would happen next....

Mama Zen said...

And, this was a MAN, right?

Annie said...

Tell me you at least had a drink after all that? Yikes!

Candygirlflies said...

Aw, hell... When that kind of stuff "breaks loose" around me when I'm on the phone, coherent speech alludes me altogether...

I probably would have been so flustered, I would have wound up telling the guy that it was ME who was running around naked and rolling around in the mud... And I might even have gotten a date out of it, but THAT'S NOT THE POINT.

The point IS, I'm incredibly impressed that you are able to do business with someone in a professional manner when the "kids are being kids" all around you.

You're awesome.

xo CGF

Karen (Pediascribe) said...

Wow. Fine line. I mean....for you to say "can I call you back?" might imply that you're too busy to be able to do the freelance work. Or that you can't put the work first. And you surely didn't want that message going out!
You handled it all well. Why is it that when mom has a phone on her ear all h*ll breaks loose?

Eileen said...

I think he was really interested in you working for him. He definately got a taste of what it was like to see how you would work under stress or pressure, lol. It sounds like a good think to me. Not a very bright thing on his part, but certainly positive for you. I bet he hires you for something.
I love the way you write this. I felt like I was sitting in your kitchen, just watching this whole thing unfold. Although, it must not have been funny at the time, it is a very,very funny story. Gotta love motherhood!
XOXO

Anonymous said...

I can't believe he kept talking rather than setting up another time. WOW!! I must say it is pretty funny though especially the random dog walking around. :) love ya, Denise

Becky said...

wow.....I like your phone etiquete post better than mine....yours is much funnier.

I imagined it all in my head and I am still laughing...not at you, but with you. I have so been there.