Public Sector Revelation No 8




The Head Honcho


A few years back I used to work front of house as a receptionist. I bucked the trend, being a young heterosexual male. What was weird was that I’d been put there, on a two person desk, when there were already two people working there. Weirder still, all three of us were young hetrosexual males.


I was sat behind them both on one of the waiting-room chairs, lower than the reception seats by a few cm and with a long, cushioned back and seat. When visitors came in, they’d frequently comment on the unusual sight of a group of male receptionists. But we got the job done.


One day, during a busy period, the other two 2 receptionists were dealing with visitors. There was no third party for me to deal with, so I’d been checking the notes I’d made in my notebook. The book, of course, was A4 and big enough to hide my phone, which I was using to check Facebook.


So, yeah, really busy.


Anyway, the Head Honcho of our organisation had just finished a meeting with some suited types. He walked them to the door past us. On his way back, he eyed me and made a stern “come here” jesture with one finger.


I let the phone fall to the floor between my legs, behind the book. There was no way he could have seen my phone from his angle. I walked to the side of the desk.


What are you doing?” he asked quietly.


I’d heard him, but I still said, “Excuse me?”


What are you doing? What’s your job?” He gestured to the reception desk.


I’m… obvserving, and, uh, learning.” Gulp. “Learning how to do reception.”


Okay- where’s your jacket?”


Before the three of us were placed on this desk, there were a couple of girls who’d done the job. They’d had matching blazers. I told him what I knew.


We’ve ordered them, but I don’t think they’ve arrived yet.”


Right, well, sit up straight, do your top button up and smarten up. You’re front of house, you’re supposed to represent us.”


My top button won’t do up. My neck has grown since I bought it.” This was also true, and I demostrated, fingers on collar.


I need you to wear a white shirt,” he said.


All my white shirts are in the wash!” I replied. Another truism.


Smarten up, man,” he said. “For Christ’s sake.” He marched off.


By this time, the other 2 receptionists had dealt with their customers and phone calls and had caught the tail end of the conversation. I relayed. They agreed that he was out of order and that I’d fought my corner well. They suggested I tell my line manager, and I had every intention of doing so.


But… within a day or so I’d been taken off reception and moved to another position. So I didn’t mention it to any superior. Should I have done, even though I wasn’t working in the same area any more?

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