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Page Me How long do you wait for someone to return your call before you call back? I was paged today while speaking on the phone with someone. Intending to get back to them within 5 or so minutes, after finishing my call, I merely silenced the pager and noted the number. This obviously did not sit will with the individual who was trying to reach me, because I recieved a total of 5 pages from that same person in the span of about 7 minutes. That seems a little excessive to me, and I voiced this perception to the lady who answered the phone when I called. It was not her who was paging me, but her co-worker at the same desk, and she was quick to make this distinction. "Ronald said you were taking too long," she said. I suggested that if it was that important he could have walked down the hallway and knocked on my office door, but to no avail. My friend James has suggested that this turn of events, this clamor for my attention, could make one feel important. I suppose I could revel in the idea that someone is paralyzed in their attempts to complete any other work without my contribution. I could even feel like I've become one of those fast paced corporate tech types ready to act on any emergency, reachable 24/7, living, breathing, being the job. But that is not me. I've never wanted to be that type. I like to work on my own schedule. I don't mind the pager usually, I understand the importance of providing service to our clients, and it usually doesn't bother me. The idealism-devouring reality of the last three years of employment here, however, has taught me that no matter how urgent and frantic the voice on the other end, no matter how many times per minute I am paged, things just aren't that important. Seriously. We have so many failsafes and backups and workarounds here that there is just about nothing that I have the power to fix that the institution cannot operate without for a reasonable amount of time. If anything really devestating happened, like power loss, phone or network outage, or volcano eruption in the waiting room, then you could be certain that I would not be the first person to be paged. If I was out that day, I may not even hear about it until my return to work, or possibly on the local news. Urgency, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder. For a while, I was paged regularly around midnight by a distraught nurse who would say things like, "You've gotta come in here, nothing's working," or "The system is down!" "What system?" "Every system. It's all broken." Five minutes of patient questioning later, I've convinced her to plug in, reboot, or turn on the offending piece of equipment she affectionately refers to as "everything", and I've gone back to bed. I wouldn't say they are crying wolf for nothing, but perhaps crying wolf over an escaped miniature poodle in one of those poofy dog sweaters. Ranking alongside the Ronald's pager-flooding adventures of this morning are people who page me with their own pager number. There is no way to know this has happened until you pick up the phone and dial the number they've sent you. If I dial and hear those beep patterns indicating that it's time to put in a callback number, my first instinct is to re-enter my own pager number that they've just called, and see how long we can let it go for. When I'm in the office this is less of a problem, because I'm largely stationary except for my typing fingers, but when this happens outside of office hours, I'm especially frustrated. This person expects me to give them my home phone number so they can call me? I think not. As I've said, my threshold for extenuating circumstances has sought higher ground to escape the flood waters of frivolous service calls. I can easily imagine the post-it note bearing my personal, non-work-related contact information becoming a permanent fixture on someone's cube wall, granting me the status of "go-to guy." These calls definitely recieve my original pager number in response. Someday I imagine I'll encounter someone as stubborn as I, and thus will begin an epic battle of pager ping-pong, neither party daring to concede an actual phone number. Until then, I will continue to provide the same high level of service my customers have come to expect, if they can provide a good enough problem to warrant it.

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