One day later and our Twitter birds are still nowhere to be seen. I think at this point it’s time to start mourning. The chances of recovery are slim. To help us through this difficult and emotional time, Kitty and I have been contemplating putting up new signs. The only problem is we can’t decide what shape to make them. I think our last suggestions before giving up for the day were flamingo or flying manatee.
I feel like I spent a lot of time on the phone today. Starting from 9 a.m. I phoned person after person trying to track down some sources who could tell me something – anything! – about government incentives for small businesses. You know what I learned today? I learned a very valuable lesson today: just because they work in public relations does not mean these people are good at relating to the public!
One lady didn’t know how to speak into a phone! I think she had her mouth pressed onto the mouthpiece because I kept hearing the loud puffs of air issuing from her mouth as she talked, which made an obnoxious crackling sound obscuring all her other words. The whole time I kept thinking, “Your only job in life is to answer the phone. How can you not know how to do that?” Maybe she was just having an off day. How lucky for me that I get to catch everyone on their off days. I guess I missed the memo.
Another guy had a really thick accent, which ended up being the least of my concerns. Of greater importance was the fact that he simply did not ever answer any of my questions directly. Here is a sample of our conversation (paraphrased for your convenience, but the gist is there):
Me: What kind of government incentives are there for small businesses? (It doesn’t get much simpler than that.)
Him: Our agency is made up of a board of members. We make recommendations to the government.
Me: Ah yes, very interesting. But what kind of government incentives are there for small businesses?
Him: Toxic waste is a big problem these days.
Me: Thank you for your time. Goodbye.
It got to the point where I started to wonder whether the words coming out of my mouth were really the same as what I heard when I was speaking them. Judging from the responses from this guy, it sounded like a different person was interviewing him on a completely different topic!
But because it’s not hard enough to be passed around from ministry to ministry and person to person, the calling card itself had to add its own contribution to my lovely day. At about 3 p.m., my calling card company decided to call it quits! I’ve been buying calling cards from them for … year! (Has it really been only a year? I thought it was longer. Ah well, it’s not like I’ve been in Carleton for that long I guess.) All my unwavering loyalty and this is how they repay me? Automated robot lady refused to connect my long distance calls! I got a “Please contact customer relations. Goodbye.”
So I called customer relations and it turns out the calling card company is experiencing some “problems with their systems.” How long will they be down? PR lady didn’t know. Of course she didn’t. She couldn’t even give me a ballpark. So I set out to buy two new calling cards from different companies. It turns out I’ve been getting ripped off for years! I found two other companies that offered me double the minutes for half the price! I think it’s safe to say my loyalties have shifted.
After making calls all day long, you’d think I’d have some good material to write my story. You’d be wrong. I have two lengthy interviews that do absolutely nothing to address my issue, thanks to their roundabout ways. I guess I was looking for something too specific. Time to step back and remember I’m going out to find out not to prove something. So now I’ve decided to shift my focus to reflect what I’ve found from today’s eye-opening, exhausting phone calls. There is a severe communication problem with government incentives and the actual recipients. The government website makes it sound great! There are so many new programs in place to help small business owners. Too bad the small business owners have no idea these programs are available.
After all those frustrating hours on the phone, it’s nice to know I have swimming to clear my head a little. We had 400m sets today – nice and long sets to give me time to hit a good rhythm and think about absolutely nothing except breathing. It’s times like these I think it wouldn’t be so bad to be a goldfish.