Thursday, March 27, 2008

Venting again

It's my blo-og and I'll rant if I want to
Rant if I want to, rant if I want to
You would rant too if it happened to you!

Literacy is a serious problem in our country, but what disturbs me more than the inability to read the writing on the wall is the inability to SEE the writing.

Case in point: A little history first...Our office "TPICC" moved locations last August. The former tenant at this location was a rental office for a large real estate firm in this area "CCRO". They moved Stephens City the earlier part of last year (or maybe earlier than that...I'm not exactly sure). Their parent company owns the building we now occupy and since they have a small satellite office still in the building, their name remains on the outside of the building. When we moved in, I removed the "We've Moved" sign from the door that announced where the rental office had moved to. I held on to it just in case it was ever needed.

In an effort to help establish our identity at this new office, we had two window decals made up, one on one window in the foyer area and the other on the door into our office. It states our name in simple, classic letters. When you step into the foyer, you have a door to your left and a door to your right. The door to your left has no writing. The door to your right has our name. If you don't want us, you must want the office next door, right? Process of elimination. We also have a large outdoor sign to the right of the doorway with our logo. Pretty hard to miss red letters on a white background, or so you might think.

I'm the receptionist/admin, which means I get to sit out front. Nice view out the windows...I get to watch the weather, the traffic driving by, the stray dog that wanders through the parking lot every now and then. And at least once a week, if not more often, someone comes in looking to rent an apartment or townhouse.

Now, I'm usually very polite and direct them to the office next door, which is the aforementioned satellite office. They don't do rentals out of there, but they know where to send people. This gets frustrating after a while, especially when I have to explain to people that this isn't the office they're looking for and they get that stunned "well, what do I do now?" look. But, I know it's not as if it's the same person coming in week after week. It's always someone different and I don't think Apartment Seeker #50 should bear my anger over Apartment Seeker #49, so I strive to be polite to everyone, but I have my limits, people.

Just recently, Boss decided to have another sign installed in another window, this one with larger letters so people driving up can see our name clearly. I said "okay" and placed the order, but I really didn't think a larger sign would do much good. It was installed last week and I have to admit, it does stand out quite a bit more than the other signs, but I wasn't going to hold my breath in hopes that it'll cut back on the rental traffic.

In case you're counting, that makes four signs announcing that TPICC is in this location, not CCRO. that you know all that, here's what happened yesterday...

I overheard a conversation between Boss and the guys in the satellite office and I decided to make copies of the old "We've Moved" sign to hand out to people who came in looking for rentals. It's not my job, but maybe, I figured, I can get rid of these people easier by simply handing them one of the copies.

Later in the afternoon, I saw a car pull into the parking lot and this couple in their mid-late thirties got out. I knew immediately they were looking for an apartment (trust me, after doing this for a while, I've gotten pretty good at identifiying the apartment seekers). So I grabbed the sign and went to make a copy. They walked in and, sure enough, asked about renting.

Can I call 'em or what?

I explained to them that this is not CCRO but if they would wait a moment while I make the copy, I can give them CCRO's new address.

"Oh, this isn't CCRO?"

"No, this is TPICC. Here's where you can find CCRO." I handed them the copy.

"Oh. Okay. Maybe you all should have a sign up or something."

Believe me, it was all I could do not to scream.

I did, however, say "There are several signs up, including one on the door." Yeah, you know, the door you just walked through, you dummies! Of course, that part wasn't said out loud. They left, and I saw through the window as the husband turned back to look at the building. That's when he saw the sign we had recently installed, the one with the larger letters. I had also noticed the wife pointing out the sign on the door as they walked out.

See, this was a well-dressed and obviously educated couple, not someone who just recently emigrated to this country and can barely speak a few words of English, never mind being able to read it. This couple walked right by several signs that said TPICC not CCRO and just breezed right in.

"Maybe you all should have a sign up."

Maybe you all should open your eyes!

I know me, and I know I tend to be a little bit more observant than most people. I recall once, when I worked in the D.C. suburbs, some co-workers and I were going to lunch at a popular restaurant. We saw this really good-looking well-dressed guy standing at the corner of the building. My friends assumed he was waiting for someone but I said no, that it was probably a Secret Service Agent and there was probably a senator or something dining inside. When they asked me how I knew that, I said it was because the first guy was standing at the corner of the building, not the entrance, there was another well-dressed man at the other corner, and they both had a wire coil stretching from their ear into the suit collars. I saw what they didn't see.

When I walk into an office building for the first time, I look for signs to tell me I'm in the right place and that I'm heading in the right direction. If I'm a little confused, I'll say "I'm looking for CCRO." I don't just automatically assume I'm in the right place.

Just now, a salesman came into our office--he works for a tool and hardware supplier that we occasionaly buy from--and I saw him look at the sign before coming in! He came to see us specifically, but at least he looked at the sign to make sure he was where he wanted to be!

It's little things like that that brighten my day.

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