Wednesday, January 16, 2008

why don’t agencies have phone books anymore?

Are they worried about headhunters trying to recruit? Journalists trawling for quotes? Competitors extracting info from loquacious interns? Terrorists?

How do they expect me to get my work done when so much time is devoted to tracking people down?

The first place I worked (in the Paleozoic era) we received actual bound books with everyone's number. The books were re-issued once a year which, in those days, was enough to keep info reasonably up to date.

The next place had books that were spiral-bound; they reissued update pages every six months or so. The next place shrunk their books down to palm size which I found very handy--being young enough to assimilate words in 3 point type.

The first time I freelanced here ten years ago, they issued printed notebooks with everyone's number. When I came back for the next gig, the notebooks were gone, replaced by a wad of papers stapled together. Next came PDF files you could print out. Now even the PDFs are gone.

Instead there’s a complicated phone system by which you press a bunch of numbers to spell the last name of the person you're looking for. But that system is based on the assumption that you not only remember the last name of the person you're looking for, you actually know how to spell it. Which seems ludicrous in this era of diversity hiring.

The system makes me apoplectic, but it doesn't seem to bother anyone else except my boomer partner who, like me, has given up trying to figure it out. When we want to call someone, we dial (oops, press) O and ask one of the operators to connect us.

We like to think we're not the only ones who do this. But today that illusion is shattered when my partner, who was home sick for two days, calls to be connected to a new producer downstairs.

“Hello,” says the operator. “Have you been away?”


Alan Wolk said...

You don't need to be a Boomer to be frustrated by this.

Oftentimes I have no idea what the last name of the junior account person or producer I'm trying to reach is - and even if I do, is it MacCarthy or McCarthy?

Misque Writer said...

Next you'll have to guess the name and number by telepathy. I'm pretty sure that's where they're heading with this trend.