I try to be cheerful and professional when answering the phone. After all, customer service is one of the cornerstones of our company and we want to treat our patrons wonderfully well, whether in person or on the phone.
But sometimes the phone seems to ring at just exactly the worst possible moment. You’ve been there, right? You are in the middle of something and don’t have a spare hand . . . and at that precise moment, rrriiiinnnnggg.
I tried to sound cheerful and professional.
“Mr. Timmons, I am right pleased to inform you that you’ve been selected as the winner of our grand prize promotion and you and your wife have won an all-expenses paid trip via luxury cruise ship to London, England.”
Now first off, this was about the 1,500th time that week that I got lucky. An e-mail told me a duke had died and left me millions, or some poor unfortunate chap had a terrible accident and would give me wealth beyond my dreams if I would help, or my granddaughter had been in a bit of trouble down in Tijuana and just needed a few hundred dollars.
I don’t have a granddaughter.
“Y’all will dee-part from Indianapolis and sail directly to London aboard the Queen Santa Maria.”
A cruise ship out of Indianapolis? On what, the White River? It didn’t take a genius to figure the irritating twang could only mean one person.
“Hello, Bubba.”
Bubba Castiron is a “friend” who is about 49 cards shy of a deck. I met him a few years ago at our newspaper in Noblesville. As luck would have it, we ran into each other over here and now he knows where to find me.
“Had you going there, didn’t I, Timmons?”
“Oh yeah, you got me, Bubba. Listen, I’m kind of in the middle of something here. What can I do for you?” (See, even when dealing with someone like Bubba we really do take customer service seriously!)
“Shoot-fire Timmons, do I have to have a reason for calling my friend? I just wanted to see how you were doing?”
Why is it that not only does the phone ring at the worst time, but it can’t be a quick call?
“Hey, did I tell you that I’m going to run with the Bulls?”
Well, that caught me by surprise. I’ve always wanted to take part in the Festival of San Fermin, otherwise known as the running of the bulls. My favorite author Ernest Hemingway immortalized it in his classic novel, The Sun Also Rises. What a great book, what an important book-
“Yup, me and Tater are heading up to Chicago next week.”
Chicago? Next week?
“Bubba, the running of the bulls is in July, and it’s in Pamplona, Spain. Why are you going to Chicago next week?”
“Don’t you know nothing, Timmons! By July, those guys will be scattered all over the country. We figured this is the perfect time.”
This was making no sense, even for Bubba.
“What in the world are you talking about?”
Bubba sounded exasperated. “The Bulls have no chance. They barely made the NBA playoffs. They’re going to get killed by the Celtics. So that’s when we figure they’ll do that running thing through the streets, just before they all get out of town for summer vacations. We want to be there to watch.”
Sometimes customer service gets put on a shelf.
“Knock yourself out, Bubba. I’ve got work to do.”

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.