I'm a journalist with the local paper (shameless plug) and I'm working on fact-checking basic stats about all of our city's public schools - the official name, address, enrollment, and size of the teaching staff. That's it. Nothing too involved. Most schools were able to give me this information in 30 seconds or less and were very agreeable.
Out of around 50 schools, however, there were 4 schools that I just could not get in touch with - it was a maze of answering machines and no calls back. So I called someone at Santa Fe Public Schools' administration offices, whose job title is something to the effect of Public Outreach (I won't put her actual title here), let's call her TK. I was directed to her by a few people who said she would have the information I needed.
I called TK and let her know that I was looking for basic stats on 4 schools, and would it be at all possible for her to give me a hand? 'Cause I would really appreciate it. (I am sweet as PIE on the phone, so much so that my cynical journalist co-workers often make fun of me. So I KNOW I was being absolutely saccharine.)
She asked what schools I wanted info for, and was a little brusque, but it was no big deal. I told her the 4 schools.
TK: Now, when would you like this information by?
Me: Um, I am working on a bit of a strict deadline, so as soon as possible would be really awesome.
TK laughs - I can almost see her thought bubble saying, "Ugh, why can't you do this YOURSELF?" because she has a really nasty tone - and she says, "Uh, okay. I'll email you."
Okay. Sounds great. No prob.
I wait about a week, and there's no email from TK. I understand that she's probably busy so I don't push it. In the meantime I finally manage to get ahold of a human being at 3 of the 4 schools and I get their stats. But there is still one more school I just can't find, so I call TK back.
TK: Santa Fe Public Schools, this is TK... .*blahblahblah*unintelligible mumbling*
Me: Um... I'm sorry?
TK: Hang on. *yells to someone in the background* Okay, how can I help you?
Me: Oh, hi, this is *me* with *my paper* again, I'm just having trouble tracking down info for Capital High School. Do you have a moment?
TK: (exasperated) Yeah.
Me: Would it be possible for me to get the enrollment, number of teachers and the correct address?
TK: (very nasty) I sent you that document.
Me: ... I'm sorry, I never received it.
TK: I'm going to have to LOOK IT UP... this document is VERY LONG. Ughhhh. Hang on, let me find it. *keyboard in the background* Okay, here it is. I have to print it out. Hang on a second. *puts phone down for about 30 seconds* Okay. Capital High. 1097 students.
Me: 1097. Awesome, thank you so much. Do you happen to have the number of teachers?
TK: (pauses) You didn't ASK for that.
Me: Um... Actually, I did.
TK: I'm gonna have to call someone ELSE to get that... look, I'll talk to them, and I'll call you RIGHT back, OKAY? (in a voice that implied I was being a HUGE pain in the ass)
Me: That's no problem at all, thank you.
So I hang up with TK, thoroughly irritated and totally not trusting her to call me back. I called the main number of the office of public schools and talked to a very vapid-sounding receptionist.
Me: Hi, this is *me* from *my paper*, I'm in search of some basic stats on Capital High and I'm having a lot of trouble...
Vapid: (interrupting) Hang on - (phone starts ringing, she's transferred me)
I hang up immediately because I KNOW she's transferred me to TK. Sure enough, when I call back and very politely ask her who she was transferring me to, she said TK. I said, very sweetly, "I've actually been trying to talk to TK for some time now and I've not had any luck, is there anyone ---"
Vapid interrupts again, "Hang on --" and the phone starts ringing again. I have no idea who's about to pick up so I just hang up and give up on the department of public schools.
I go to the SFPS website and try to find some other number at Capital High that I could possibly call to get a human being who might have my info, but all I get are wrong numbers and disconnected lines. Bah.
Surprisingly, my phone rings about 5 minutes later. I pick up. No hello, no "This is TK," just:
TK: Faculty size is 67.
Me: 67! Great! Thanks!
TK: (unintelligible grunt and hangs up)
... So seriously. SERIOUSLY. It's not even like this woman was having a bad day, because I spoke to her on two different occasions a week apart and she was just as awful both times.
I really don't understand how someone can have a public position and have such piss-poor people skills.