Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Master's Dealings with the General Public

One of the things I absolutely hate about my job is dealing with viewer calls. I should feel sorry for people who call television stations to complain about stupid crap, because they clearly don't have lives, but I don't. They are annoying and I would rather drink a bucket of monkey snot than deal with their stupidity. OK, maybe not, but you get my point.

People call in to see if their soaps are going to run in their entirety after the President gets done yapping, or to ask why their Favorite Show is a repeat today, or, the #1 phone call I get, why in the name of the Good Lord above are we broadcasting our programming in Spanish. Here in southern AZ, this is a major-league hot topic as the immigration debate sizzles on. Tucsonans are pissed enough to have to "Dial 1 for English". Can you imagine their ire when they tune in to their FAVORITE PRIME TIME PROGRAM and hear, "Oy Dios Mio! Mi lapiz es amarillo!" Let me just say they're not happy campers. 99.9% of the time, the issue is with the audio settings on their TV, and I walk them through it as best I can. I once spent fifteen minutes going 'round and 'round with a woman who was adamant it was NOT her audio settings. "Ma'am," I tried to explain, "I'm listening to the program on our Cox Cable feed and it's in English."

"Well, I'M hearing it in Spanish," she countered.

"If you would at least CHECK the audio settings on your TV..."

"It's NOT my TV," she interrupted. "I haven't TOUCHED my TV. Maybe I should call Cox Cable and see if THEY'RE having a problem."

"That's a great idea, Ma'am. Why don't you do that." Click. Problem from my end? Solved.

What annoys me the most about these calls is that I shouldn't receive half of them. These are the nut jobs who are transferred to me because no one else at the station has the balls to deal with them. Last week I was transferred a call from a viewer who "couldn't figure out our prime time schedule." He was confused because there was no continuity to it and he was missing shows because they weren't airing at the same time from week to week. My solution? Pick up a TV Guide!! They have them right there at the checkout counter of your local grocer, and, hell, they're even FREE in your local paper!

My all time favorite happened last Friday night. We were in the 5p newscast when the phone rang. I answered it and was immediately sorry that I had.

"Ummm, yeah..." Whenever the person on the other end of the line starts our little conversation with "Um, yeah", it's going to be bad. "You just aired a commercial for [such and such a place], and I noticed in the first few seconds of the commercial there's graffiti across the man's shirt, and since your station has been doing a series on graffiti, I was wondering what the significance of that was."


Followed by uproarious laughter. I know it's not polite to laugh in someone's face, or in this case, ear, but I couldn't help it. WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, I wanted to scream. Instead I laughed, "Sir, I haven't the slightest idea."

"Well then why did you air it?"

"Because the business, [such and such a place], PAID us to. That's how we make our money. Businesses pay us to air their commercials."

"Well, how am I going to figure out the significance of that graffiti?"

The significance, sir, is that you have deciphered the code from the Mother Ship, and they will be landing soon to claim you as their new leader.

"I guess you'll just have to call [such and such a place]." I figured I had done my part and that it was now my turn to start passing the buck.

"I don't think they're open until the weekend, are they?"

"I don't know, sir, you'll have to give them a call. Thank you." Click.

I then set out on a headhunting expedition for the spineless jerk who transferred that call to me.

I am SOOO asking for a raise.

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