One of the secondary duties of my job is to handle mainline operator calls for the UW. It’s usually fairly mundane, with calls that are generally worried students asking for admission, or alumni trying to donate more money to athletics. Occasionally a caller might be rude, and yes, a language barrier will sometimes rear its ugly head. But every once in a while a true gem of a call will appear.
It’s around 11:00am on a Friday morning. It’s been fairly quiet and keeping the incoming email queue well handled.
Situation: Caller with thick accent called with a callerID of “APL” (Advanced Physics Lab). He said he had recently bought a LAN, and that it was “smelly” and wondered if he could take it to a lab to be “tested” because he thought it might get people sick. I believe he also mentioned something about blinking green lights.
The Call as I Recall (haw haw)
Nikky: “University of Washington. How may I direct your call?”
(I notice that the call is registered as coming from the Applied Physics Lab)
Caller with thick accen, this is what I thought I heard: “Yes, I was wondering what the number is for a lab. I recently installed a LAN and it doesn’t seem to really be working right.
Me: Okay, do you know what lab you might be looking for?
Caller: One that can test this LAN. It’s kind of blinking green lights.
(At this point, I’m pretty sure I’m going to transfer this guy to UW Technology, since we will install ethernet for people)
Me: Do you know who installed it?
Caller: No! I bought it, and I want to get it tested. It’s smells weird and I’m worried it might get my family sick.
(I’m throughly confused.)
Me: Okay, are you talking about a Local Area Network?
Caller: No, a LAMB. The animal.
(I’m trying not to laugh)
Me: Oh, sorry about that. Let me look for that.
(I don’t find anything, we just do primate research and such.)
Me: Okay, I can give you the number for WSU Extension in King County. They have a local facility which is for agricultural assistance and such.
(I give them this number)