The Receptionist

I’m not one to laugh at another’s expense. Okay actually, that’s a complete lie. Try again: There are points of amusement that come about because of things people say and they don’t really realize the full magnitude of what they’ve just said. Call it irony. One case in point might be the most recently popular YouTube video being passed around documenting Miss Teen South Carolina performing her public speaking portion of the pageant. She was asked why a crapload of Americans can’t locate the United States on the map (when it turns out the premise of that question might even be untrue). Also, her follow-up “do over” on The Today Show dug her even further into her hole since she had a full weekend to think of her even less impressive answer. This isn’t laughing and pointing at someone tripping over an unforeseen crack on the sidewalk. It’s Britney firing her PR manager and subsequently wondering why the hell everyone’s started making fun of her (Her clothes and the monologues coming out of her mouth, more specifically). And yet, you want to sympathize. You want to empathize, even, while humbly remembering your own embarrassing flops in public speaking and otherwise. Yeah, even me. At UCLA, every undergraduate has the opportunity to walk in at least four different graduation ceremonies. You have your University ceremony, your college ceremony, and your miscellaneous student group ceremonies. For two years in a row, I helped organize this Pan-Asian graduation and was asked to translate a blurb into Taiwanese. The same blurb was getting translated into probably 10 other Asian languages and we took turns at the podium. The native Taiwanese speakers had no idea what I was saying.  For two years in a row.  And if I had simply remembered that I never actually spoke back to my parents in Taiwanese but simply answered in English when spoken to, maybe I would have at least adamantly insisted that I not be asked to embarrass myself in public … the second time. Bygones. So maybe there wasn’t so much irony in my example. But I’m about to deliver some, anyway. Sure, they’re not even public speaking, but I’ve collected some bits from a receptionist that I’ve gotten to know over the years that I may or may not work with. Some of you might be familiar with these examples since I might have told them before once upon a time. ;) I just thought these too good to pass up writing about again. So enjoy:

  • The receptionist is originally from a state located in the southeast region of The U.S. While she tells a co-worker in the lobby (where her seat is located obviously) about a great place back home that serves delicious fried chicken, a black co-worker passes through. She stops him and says, “Oh [John], I was just telling him about this great place that serves really good fried chicken. You would love it.”
  • A client of Korean descent sat in our lobby. The receptionist says to him, “Aren’t you excited the 2008 Olympics are going to be in Beijing?” He looks at her and corrects, “I’m Korean.” She paused, then said, “Yeah! Aren’t you excited?”
  • The receptionist, like many of us, shops for items of clothing online. One particular day, she is shopping for shoes. And she decides on a pair. A co-worker walks through the lobby and she asks him for help. “[Mark], I wanna buy these shoes. I wear a six-and-a-half. So which one do you think six-and-a-half would be? On this thing here it says ‘six, six-point-five, and seven.’” [Mark] laughs, and then stands there waiting for her to laugh with him. She continues to wait for an answer and never does.
  • The setting is the company holiday party. Everyone in the conversation is talking about bands and music, and different projects everyone is involved in. The receptionist tells everyone she is a singer in her band. The co-worker aforementioned in the first (fried chicken) example mentions he sings and plays the guitar. The receptionist jokes to the person next to her, yet is audible to everyone in the conversation, “Yeah but that doesn’t count because all black people sing well.”
  • A client who has regularly visited the firm comes into the lobby with her husband. She is about 90 years old and seems to have exceedingly lost weight. The receptionist sees her and says, “Oh my God you lost so much weight–you look so good!“ The client, after getting over her shock, explains that had just come back from extensive chemotherapy for cancer.

So lolsome they should’ve been on YouTube. Gearing up for the long weekend… Love, *e