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September 17, 1992 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-09-17

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc.-September 17, 1992- Page 3

University operators answer the call for students in need

by Gwen Shaffer
You dial 764-1817 and an
anonymous voice picks up at the
other end of the line. "Good
morning, University of Michigan."
You've heard the voices hun-
dreds of times. They've helped you
reach the Study Break to find out if
"Thelma and Louise" was returned,
locate that guy who lived down the
hall last year, or find profs' numbers
so you could beg for an override.
OK, I agree answering phones all
day sounds really tedious. Well,
more like nightmarish. But a day in
the life of a University switchboard
operator is often anything but dull.
Gina Carpenter has been working
as a telephone operator since
I* Michigan Bell recruited her right out
of high school and has been at the
University for five years. Gina said
she believes it takes "a special kind
of person" to work the phones. "You
really have to be patient and keep on
an even keel," she said. "It takes
someone who can handle the
pressure - a lot of people can't."
University operators generally
work eight and a half hour shifts,
with a 30 minute lunch break. The
average call lasts about 10 -12 sec-
onds but operators frequently answer
more than one call at a time. (You
can figure out for yourself how
many calls a day each operator

V Z

takes. I suck at math.) All together,
operators receive 4,000 calls daily.
The beginning of the semester is
the busiest time of the year for
University operators because people
are calling all around trying to find
out information. During busy times

like now, there are nine operators
answering calls at the same time.
It is true operators spend most of
their time giving out numbers to
commonly called places such as un-
dergraduate admissions, the CCRB
and University Health Services.
However, occasionally some more
... shall we say, out of the ordinary,
requests are made.
Gina said she remembers an op-
erator answering a call from a stu-
dent who had just woken up. He said
he lost his glasses and wanted to
know if she could suggest any places
where he might find them.

Janice Batalucco, University op-
erator office manager, said she has
gotten some nutty calls in her years
as a campus operator.
"People always call and ask if we
can recite the Michigan fight song. I
tell them we are too busy, but that
the sheet music is available from the
School of Music."
Like Gina, Janice worked for
Michigan Bell before joining the
University operators staff. She said
the atmosphere for campus operators
is more unique than the phone com-
pany setting because of the more
"personalized" service provided to

accommodate students.
"At Michigan Bell, everything
was pretty cut and dried," Janice
said. "When dealing with the aca-
demic world, it is anything but cut
and dried.";
Janice said the rate at which calls
come in varies, depending on what
is happening in the community. +
"If there is a football game,1

things around here are slower," she
said.
Are callers ever rude?
"Sometimes, but over the years
the nice people outweigh the incon-
siderate," Janice said.
So next time you need to know
what time the language lab opens (or
even if you're wondering how to
boil an egg), ask nicely!

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