Author Topic: Not Going To Happen 'Cause I'm Not Harry Potter (Impossible Patron Requests)  (Read 692833 times)

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blue2000

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My boyfriend is going through a huge impossible request right now.
 <snip>
But his bosses can't explain this to the execs from either company, they want it done and they want it done before the system phases out.

Um, yeah. Sorry. No.
I work for the government.  Big difference from private business.  We've had gliches in existing systems scheduled to be phased out in a year or 2.  No sense asking IT to fix the gliches; They will just say, "Don't worry about it; We're phasing that system out soon."  Doesn't matter how difficult it makes doing our work now.  I often say "the government moves at glacial speeds." >:D

Worse, the system that is supposed to be phased out in a year ends up hanging around for many years because they can't transfer the data to the new system.

This explains so much. My husband and his brother have forklift licences. They were issued for life years ago. Out of the blue, the government demanded that they reapply and start paying $60 every five years. The kicker was that BIL couldn't find his (it was over 15 years old) and was looking at having to pay $500 for a course to get it reissued. In desperation, my husband rang and told the person on the phone that they got their licences at the same time and they were one number off. The woman went and physically fetched the licence and confirmed his information.

I have low expectations of government departments but this one had us baffled, they obviously still had the information in their possession. All we could guess was that it was a job creation scheme combined with fundraising.

I have my license for several pieces of heavy equipment at work, and the rules have changed mainly because of safety concerns. We used to have to retest every three years, now it is retest every 18 months and redo the entire licensing course every three years - paid for by the company, thank goodness.

You would be surprised at how many people forget the safety procedures if they never have to retest. Not saying your DH and your BIL have, just that a lot of accidents happen because of this.
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

glacio

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Explaining to a customer that sorry, we've no milk left, but the manager has gone to get some and will be back in about fifteen minutes. No, we don't have any in the fridge or out the back, that's what "no milk left" means. No, I personally don't have any extra. There isn't any hidden in a secret place just for staff, no. And no, I cannot just go and milk the cow that you think we have living in the back room.

This happened four times over a few months of working at that particular place.

Oh, dear. EvilTwik just suggested murmurring "well, just this once," and starting to unbutton your top.
There is an anecdote in the People's guide ot Mexico. To ask, in Spanish, if a shop sells something, you do not say "Do you have X?" That means "Do you personally have X?" You ask "Is there X?"

Well, one of the authors, a man, walked into a shop and asked the very pregnant shopkeeper "Do you have milk?" He reported that "the reaction of the other customers and the look on the girl's face took a year off my conversational ability in Spanish."

I asked a Mexican friend of mine about that and he said it's horse poo. It could be regional (he's from the Mexico City area), but he says you can ask "do you have...?" and it would be considered normal.

My border-town Spanish speaking boyfriend who has lived in various parts of Mexico said that while technically correct, almost everyone should understand in the context of the shop. Being outside of the shop may cause some confusion, however. Also there is a small chance that if you were in a very rural area that kept a much more rigid separation in the grammar may give some looks.

I would guess, going back to the subject title, that most shop keepers the world over assume that you are not asking for something impossible and work off of that before making completely freaking out

jmarvellous

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My husband's in charge of workflow for his small company "BasketsUSA."  They got a request for a quote on development of set of five "gift basket"  with a promise that if they did really well, there would be 200 more baskets (representing weeks of work and lots of money) where that came from. Husband was very excited to fulfill this particular request, so he opened up the gift basket requests only to notice that they had had some IDENTICAL requests just the week before. Right on down to the sets of 5 bananas in one type and gingham ribbon on another.

So he asks the owner of the company,  "Aren't we making baskets just like these already?"
"No, we outsourced those to our basket weavers in Bangladesh for weaving before we fill them. I'll get in touch with BasketWeev and see what's up, but it looks like they're outsourcing our products to the guy who contacted you, and that's specifically forbidden in their contract."
Boss was STEAMED.  Their clients' basket concepts are proprietary ideas and they can't be broadcast around the world. The quote request was a bad form letter, so it looked like the job/files had been sent to more than one place. BasketsUSA just got lucky that it was a recipient.
The next day, Husband comes in, and it's been resolved.
Turns out one of BasketWeev's employees was overwhelmed by his workload and decided to see if he could outsource it on his own time and pretend to do the work. He apparently had no idea that the whole reason the work was outsourced to Bangladesh in the first place wad because it was vastly cheaper, and by paying out of pocket for BasketsUSA baskets, he'd be spending more than he earned. Lots and lots more -- he was promptly fired. BasketWeev is lucky they had a fall guy, or they would have lost all their work, too.

I guess this could go in professional Darwinism, but I got such a kick out of the initial request,  I put it here.

(Names, industry and outsourcing source obviously obscured.)

jedikaiti

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Yea, I'd say that's some serious PD, but it does remind me of the guy who (rather more successfully) outsorced his programming job to China. He made a fortune, since he could easily hold down 2 jobs - I can't remember if he worked one or outsourced both - but the outsourcing cost FAR less than he was being paid.

 At least, until he got caught!
What part of v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2GM}{r}} don't you understand? It's only rocket science!

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Coruscation

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My boyfriend is going through a huge impossible request right now.
 <snip>
But his bosses can't explain this to the execs from either company, they want it done and they want it done before the system phases out.

Um, yeah. Sorry. No.
I work for the government.  Big difference from private business.  We've had gliches in existing systems scheduled to be phased out in a year or 2.  No sense asking IT to fix the gliches; They will just say, "Don't worry about it; We're phasing that system out soon."  Doesn't matter how difficult it makes doing our work now.  I often say "the government moves at glacial speeds." >:D

Worse, the system that is supposed to be phased out in a year ends up hanging around for many years because they can't transfer the data to the new system.

This explains so much. My husband and his brother have forklift licences. They were issued for life years ago. Out of the blue, the government demanded that they reapply and start paying $60 every five years. The kicker was that BIL couldn't find his (it was over 15 years old) and was looking at having to pay $500 for a course to get it reissued. In desperation, my husband rang and told the person on the phone that they got their licences at the same time and they were one number off. The woman went and physically fetched the licence and confirmed his information.

I have low expectations of government departments but this one had us baffled, they obviously still had the information in their possession. All we could guess was that it was a job creation scheme combined with fundraising.

I have my license for several pieces of heavy equipment at work, and the rules have changed mainly because of safety concerns. We used to have to retest every three years, now it is retest every 18 months and redo the entire licensing course every three years - paid for by the company, thank goodness.

You would be surprised at how many people forget the safety procedures if they never have to retest. Not saying your DH and your BIL have, just that a lot of accidents happen because of this.

Yes, but they couldn't find his details. He gave them his name, date of birth etc but until he gave them the number of his licence, they couldn't find his records. Then they could and reissued his licence without question and without testing. So, it was either a physical document or a computer file searchable by only the one parameter. Now, I guess, its loaded into the new computer system. For the next five years anyway.

Everything to do with bureaucracy, nothing to do with safety.

zyrs

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My boyfriend is going through a huge impossible request right now.
 <snip>
But his bosses can't explain this to the execs from either company, they want it done and they want it done before the system phases out.

Um, yeah. Sorry. No.
I work for the government.  Big difference from private business.  We've had gliches in existing systems scheduled to be phased out in a year or 2.  No sense asking IT to fix the gliches; They will just say, "Don't worry about it; We're phasing that system out soon."  Doesn't matter how difficult it makes doing our work now.  I often say "the government moves at glacial speeds." >:D

It's not that much different from some private businesses.  Where my wife works decided to change to a different type of order program to be implemented over a few years - then outsourced it to a company that has not delivered a working product for a year.  So every day they are scrambling to figure out what's wrong with the program today ...

faithlessone

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Ugh, my boss is a darling man in most other respects, but he DOES NOT UNDERSTAND our computer system. He seems to think it's capable of an awful lot that it just seriously isn't. He also seems to think that it does certain things automatically, which it can't - it's part of my job (and the other "office girl") to go in and manually change these records so they work.

He's been talking for a little while about implementing a new computer system, which is newer and shinier and has a lot of fancy bells and whistles, but the office manager checked it out, and it would actually make our job even more complicated and time consuming than the current one. Boss keeps saying "Oh, but it has X, Y and Z (fancy, but unnecessary things)", to which we all respond "Yes, but it doesn't have A or B (vitally important administrative boring bits)".

Professional computer systems are the bane of my life.

cwm

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Ugh, my boss is a darling man in most other respects, but he DOES NOT UNDERSTAND our computer system. He seems to think it's capable of an awful lot that it just seriously isn't. He also seems to think that it does certain things automatically, which it can't - it's part of my job (and the other "office girl") to go in and manually change these records so they work.

He's been talking for a little while about implementing a new computer system, which is newer and shinier and has a lot of fancy bells and whistles, but the office manager checked it out, and it would actually make our job even more complicated and time consuming than the current one. Boss keeps saying "Oh, but it has X, Y and Z (fancy, but unnecessary things)", to which we all respond "Yes, but it doesn't have A or B (vitally important administrative boring bits)".

Professional computer systems are the bane of my life.

My boss at one point wanted me to run reports on various facets of our files. One of the things he wanted was to see when a file was created and when the first time someone made a phone call on the file was. I explained to him that short of tying the phone systems to the software we use (impossible, neither system is set up to do that) or relying on the employees to update their notes in the file (unreliable, this was why we were running the report, because they apparently can't be trained to add notes to the files to begin with) that there was no way to tell when initial contact with the client had been made. He kept insisting that there had to be a way for that, but also that I was to come up with three other reports to keep track of things.

I did my best, sent them to him, and forgot all about it. Nearly two months later he comes up with these brand new reports (!) that are identical to mine, except with about two more features that make sense and about fifty fields that absolutely do not matter for the point of these reports. And he said he's solved the whole problem of initial contact. See, there's this field in the software that he's pulling information from, it's this one that the employees filled in on their own. And the date can be changed at will, it's not automatically set. So even though the employees can falsify it or add notes in later, this is a FOOLPROOF idea and it will work for these reports.

Yeah, I no longer run those reports. Higher levels of management found that one report to be unusable because it relied on employee input and therefore the rest of them aren't usable either. It's all or nothing.

PeterM

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We had some patrons yesterday who kinda toed the special snowflake line, but the remark that really bugged me feels like it fits better here.

They waited until the library was closed to bring their DVDs up to check out, and then got annoyed when my coworker informed them that they had fines from the last time they checked out. They had eight DVDs that were all returned three days late, so at 25 cents a day that adds up to six dollars. One of the family said, and I quote,

"There shouldn't be fines until they're, like, three weeks late."

DVDs check out for one week. But apparently there should be no fines until you've had them for four times that long. After being informed that, just, no, the patron at least had the sense to back down from that position. But then she said there should be a grace period where they don't charge fines.

Now that's neither an impossible request nor a special snowflake attitude, in and of itself. Some libraries do things that way, but mine doesn't. She wanted us to break the rules and give just them a grace period, and that's not an impossible request but definitely a request I was not willing to grant. But the general idea of a grace period is fine. I personally have never liked the idea, though, because as far as I'm concerned you've already got a grace period. We check DVDs out for one week and books out for two or four weeks, depending, and that right there is your grace period. Bring the items back or renew them on time and you won't get any fines. It's not rocket science.

Grace periods also breed more entitlement, at least in my experience. If the library has a three day grace period and only starts charging fines on day four, you will inevitably get hordes of people bringing back their items four days late but arguing they shouldn't have to pay fines because, "It's only a day late!" No. Just no.

2littlemonkeys

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I often think the people I support think I have a magic wand or something.  Or am on a first name basis with the FAA and/or the CEOs of major airlines.

Someone wanted to get from My City to Another City by air and they wanted to leave at a certain time on a certain airline.

The airline did go to Another City but not at the times my CW wanted.  I looked up another airline and they did have the preferred departure time to Another City.  Problem was, CW hates alternate airline.

I checked a few other carriers but the rest all had stops and only non-stop is acceptable.

So the choices were:

Leave for Another City on earlier or later than preferred but on favorite airline

Leave for Another City at preferred time but on hated airline.


Her response was, "Well, neither of those work for me."  Full stop.

I'm not exactly sure what she wanted me to do.  She eventually made a decision but only after I reminded her a couple of times that I didn't possess the ability to change airline schedules.

I had a similar conversation with someone else who wanted to stay at a particular hotel property at a certain time.  The problem was, the room rate far exceeded our allowed rate and I told her so.  "Well, I won't stay anywhere else."  I told her that if she could get approval from on high, I'd be more than happy to book the room for her.  And then her boss told her she had to find a cheaper hotel. 

I'm just a secretary.  I don't control the airlines or hotel rates.  Honest!

Hillia

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I think a lot of this 'That's unacceptable' or 'That won't work for me' is an example of a good thing - assertiveness training - run amok.  I remember maybe 20 years ago buying a Jack Canfield audiocassette series (Jack Canfield is the original editor of the 'Chicken Soup' series of inspirational books, and also a motivational speaker).  I can remember very distinctly on one of his self-help tapes his advice to calmly say 'That's unacceptable' when you're presented with an outcome that you don't want, and to just stand there repeating it (calmly and politely) until you get what you want. 

On ehell we often go with the broken record response to unreasonable requests ('I'm sorry, that won't be possible') which is kind of the flip side of this, but Jack's point was that everyone in the universe not only had the ability but also the responsibility to provide you with the outcome you wanted in every interaction, and if  you just stood there long enough repeating your mantra, you would eventually get what you want.  I can see this up to a point; certainly there are times when people just blow you off.  No refund for your raw chicken dish in a restaurant?  I'm sorry, that's not acceptable.  But you have to temper that with some common sense; if the manager absolutely refuses and is about to call the police, choose your battles and hit Yelp as soon as you get home.

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MissRose

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I had a customer call in and ask us "Can you locate all of our email on your servers and send it on to us?" after we had an issue with the servers that held up mail delivery and the servers were fixed.

Nice try...  we have too many mail servers and try to find all of the mail that belonged to her? She had 20+ email accounts too.

Elfmama

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As background, I'm going to babble about my hobby here, the Society for Creative Anachronism. We are a non-profit group that researches and recreates the Middle Ages and Renaissance, with about 40,000 members worldwide. 

In the Society, I am a herald.  My job is to help people create a persona, a person who could have lived in that era, complete with a name and a coat of arms.   All name components must be documentable to the Society's time period.  Such name and arms are submitted to the Laurel King of Arms, the Society officer who registers them so that no one can use a name or arms that are too similar. 

As part of the paperwork to register a name, people have a number of choices.  One of them is an option to have a name modified to make it authentic for a certain language, culture, and/or time period.  So if you submit "Alice Smith" but ask to have it changed into a form authentic for 14th century France, we can do that. 

OK, end of background.  Where the impossible patron requests come into the story is when people submit a name that is impossible to modify in the form requested.  The patron loves the Russian name "Olga" but wants to have it changed to the 10th century Irish form, as if all names have a counterpart in all other languages in all time periods.  Or wants "Willow of the Fairy Hills" because it's her favorite name from a certain bodice-ripper fantasy romance, but has no documentation whatsoever to prove that it is a name actually used by humans in period.  And again, she wants it made authentic for medieval Irish.  We have concluded that what the patrons really want is for us to wave our Magic Herald Wands and change history, so that Olga and Willow really ARE period Irish names.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 11:18:29 PM by Elfmama »
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snowdragon

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As background, I'm going to babble about my hobby here, the Society for Creative Anachronism. We are a non-profit group that researches and recreates the Middle Ages and Renaissance, with about 40,000 members worldwide. 

In the Society, I am a herald.  My job is to help people create a persona, a person who could have lived in that era, complete with a name and a coat of arms.   All name components must be documentable to the Society's time period.  Such name and arms are submitted to the Laurel King of Arms, the Society officer who registers them so that no one can use a name or arms that are too similar. 

As part of the paperwork to register a name, people have a number of choices.  One of them is an option to have a name modified to make it authentic for a certain language, culture, and/or time period.  So if you submit "Alice Smith" but ask to have it changed into a form authentic for 14th century France, we can do that. 

OK, end of background.  Where the impossible patron requests come into the story is when people submit a name that is impossible to modify in the form requested.  The patron loves the Russian name "Olga" but wants to have it changed to the 10th century Irish form, as if all names have a counterpart in all other languages in all time periods.  Or wants "Willow of the Fairy Hills" because it's her favorite name from a certain bodice-ripper fantasy romance, but has no documentation whatsoever to prove that it is a name actually used by humans in period.  And again, she wants it made authentic for medieval Irish.  We have concluded that what the patrons really want is for us to wave our Magic Herald Wands and change history, so that Olga and Willow really ARE period Irish names.


Could the character be the daughter of an Irish woman and a Viking man? since the name is also Scandinavian it could work 

Nibsey

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As background, I'm going to babble about my hobby here, the Society for Creative Anachronism. We are a non-profit group that researches and recreates the Middle Ages and Renaissance, with about 40,000 members worldwide. 

In the Society, I am a herald.  My job is to help people create a persona, a person who could have lived in that era, complete with a name and a coat of arms.   All name components must be documentable to the Society's time period.  Such name and arms are submitted to the Laurel King of Arms, the Society officer who registers them so that no one can use a name or arms that are too similar. 

As part of the paperwork to register a name, people have a number of choices.  One of them is an option to have a name modified to make it authentic for a certain language, culture, and/or time period.  So if you submit "Alice Smith" but ask to have it changed into a form authentic for 14th century France, we can do that. 

OK, end of background.  Where the impossible patron requests come into the story is when people submit a name that is impossible to modify in the form requested.  The patron loves the Russian name "Olga" but wants to have it changed to the 10th century Irish form, as if all names have a counterpart in all other languages in all time periods.  Or wants "Willow of the Fairy Hills" because it's her favorite name from a certain bodice-ripper fantasy romance, but has no documentation whatsoever to prove that it is a name actually used by humans in period.  And again, she wants it made authentic for medieval Irish.  We have concluded that what the patrons really want is for us to wave our Magic Herald Wands and change history, so that Olga and Willow really ARE period Irish names.


Could the character be the daughter of an Irish woman and a Viking man? since the name is also Scandinavian it could work

Would Iona work? It kind of rhymes (ok not really, just with my accent  ::) ) with Olga and they both mean blessed?

The Irish for Willow is saileach but I have never ever seen it used as a name.

Poor you  >:(
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 08:42:44 AM by Nibsey »
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