I was filling in for the receptionist on Friday, when I received an angry call from a man. He started with a hateful tone, "First of all, this is the 7th or 8th call I’ve made to your company and so you ARE going to help me this time!" I assured him that I would do all I could. He had not yet received his W2 forms and was eager to file his income taxes. Well, this made me wonder, because I received mine several weeks ago. Furthermore, our human resources department is extremely diligent and would never have failed to return 7 or 8 messages, even if they had somehow failed to send the forms to the right address. Then he began threatening to go directly to our general manager whose name he could not remember. I explained that our head of HR was currently out of office, but she would be the person best equipped to help him. Still using a nasty tone, he said, "Gina can’t help me because I never worked for your company!" Then he proceeded to tell me that he worked for another company on our campus. That is when I lost it! "First of all," I repeated his words, imitating his tone as best I could, "you need to drop the attitude. And secondly, you need to call your former employer. We have no access to your employment records whatsoever, much less your W2s, so there will be no need for you to call here an 8th, 9th, or 10th time!" Then his whole demeanor changed and he asked very kindly if I might be able to provide him with a phone number. I happened to have it, and so I gave it to him. He apologized and said that he had moved several times and so it may have been sent to an old address. We hung up on better terms, but I thought how easily one could have their mail forwarded, if they’d bothered to fill out a simple form with the US Postal Service.
But he must have reasoned that it would be more useful to call an unrelated business and bully someone several times. The conversation would have gone much differently had he simply lead with, "I was hoping you might provide me with a phone number."