Crying wolf

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Isn't this illustration beautiful? I made it.
Just kidding.
I did not.



Yesterday I made the horrific mistake of being nice to one of the students on our campus and sure enough, that little social faux pas immediately came back and bit my right in the buttocks.

No good deed goes unpunished. Seriously.

Since I work in the Human Resources department, my daily interaction with the student population is almost completely nil. Aside from the occasional student passerby sticking his or her head through our door and asking for directions to a classroom or the tutoring center, I generally have no reason to converse with them.

Even though Human Resources works solely with college employees, it's almost comical how often students interpret the "human" part of Human Resources to mean that our office caters to absolutely anything that walks upright. Unless you're a work study (AKA a student employee), students and I don't have any business to do together.

I route several phone calls each week from students who call our office with questions about things like their tuition, financial aid, and placement testing. Just a week ago, I had a student admit that he called several numbers throughout campus, hoping that one of them would eventually be the correct office.

"So let me get this straight," I sighed, cradling my phone between my neck and shoulder so I could rub my temples. "You've been dialing random office extensions all morning, figuring that one of these times you would magically land at the testing center?"

"Yes," the student replied in a way that suggested he thought I was a total moron for asking such a stupidly obvious question.

"And you're trying to get information about testing out of basic competency classes?"

"Yes," he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Okay, good luck with that."

Of course I wasn't that mean. I wanted to say that and I wanted to wish him well on his quest to aimlessly dial himself to Remedial Common Sense 101, but I didn't. I simply transferred his call to the appropriate number and quietly shed a tear for our country's future.

But that's not the horrific mistake I'm referring to.

Yesterday a student came into my office and told me that he had just accidentally locked his keys, school books and all of his personal belongings in his car. My gut reaction was to send him down to the front desk for assistance, but I sympathized with this poor boy and his situation because I have locked my keys in my own car far more times than I care to admit.

I sprang from my chair and gestured for him to come around to my desk, offering to let him use my phone to call his girlfriend for a spare key.

I stood to the side and quietly sipped from my coffee mug as I watched him clumsily punch buttons and try fervently to call the right number. When I was satisfied with the amount of time he spent struggling (because I am SUCH a jerk), I tossed in my two cents and reminded him to dial "1" before entering the area code.

It was useless. I ended up having to dial the number for him.

Giving him a few seconds of privacy to explain himself to his girlfriend, I stepped into my boss's office and chatted about the upcoming basketball game. When I heard the student finally hang-up, I checked in to make sure everything was okay.

"I couldn't reach anyone," he said in defeat. "I'll just wait around outside and hope she checks her phone."

"Okie dokie!" I replied, smiling as he left the office. "Good luck!"

No sooner did I sit back down at my desk than one of our security guards came bursting into the room. Clutching the doorway for support as he tried to catch his breath from running across campus, he looked around the office with wild eyes.

"Is everyone okay!?" he asked in a panic.

I looked at him blankly, my elbows wresting on my desk as I enjoyed the rest of my hot coffee. In distress, I clearly was not.

I raised my eyebrow suspiciously. "We're fine ...Why do you ask?"

"Oh, thank goodness," he replied, wiping his brow. "We got a report that someone just dialed 911 from your phone and we thought there was an emergency. The director of security is on the line with police dispatch as we speak."

My owl mug almost dropped from my hands. "911?" I asked, incredulous. "I can assure you, everyone's just fine. There's no emergency. I have no idea who would have called ..."

My voice trailed off as recognition spread over my face.

That student called 911.

I only WISH 911 dispatch was this cute.
He wasn't leaving a voice message for his girlfriend. When he couldn't reach her, he simply thought that calling 911 for someone to come unlock his car was a perfectly logical course of action. I'm sure that to him, locking himself out of his car and away from his cell phone was an emergency.

And now the campus security department was up in arms thinking I called the police because something was seriously wrong with me.

Embarrassed doesn't even begin to describe it. This was by no means my fault, but since it happened from my phone and under my watch, I wanted nothing more in that moment than to hide under my desk until it was time to go home.

Feeling my face flush, I fiddled with the collar of my shirt in an attempt to air myself out. "Um, I think I know what happened." I was suddenly a nervous mess. "I, uh, let a student use my phone because he locked his keys in his car and I, um, I just wanted to help. He said he was calling his girlfriend, but she wasn't answering. He must have called 911 as a last-ditch effort."

The security guard seemed to accept this explanation and mercifully didn't reprimand me or make me feel any worse than I already did. He was actually really nice about the whole thing, and I think the lack of an actual emergency fully trumped any annoyance he might have been feeling.

So, it looks like not only am I the office klutz and the office pollutant, but I am also very much the girl who cries wolf.

"But for the record," I interjected, trying my best to make an incredibly awkward situation less so. "You guys are incredibly efficient."

Then I may or may not have given him a thumbs up ... and winked.

So much for trying to help the situation.

Moral of the story: Students are no longer allowed to use my 3-hole puncher or my phone.

So, how is your day going?

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