Conversation just now with a representative from a company we do business with regularly:
Me: I'm trying to reach Linda Brown in your department regarding a letter she sent me. I've been calling the number on the letter all day and it's not working. It just rings and rings--there's no voicemail or anything. Is there a better number to reach her at?
CSR: Linda Brown? I've never heard of her in this department.
Me: The title on her letter says "Asset Disposition Representative." Is this the Asset Disposition department?
CSR: Yes. But "Linda Brown" doesn't sound familiar.
CSR: Hmmm... Linda.... Linda...
CSR: Oh yeah. I got it. Linda. I work with her every day. Duh. It's Tuesday and I'm still acting like it's Monday. Sorry.
Me: That's fine. Can I talk to her?
CSR: She's gone home early today. I can transfer you to her voicemail, though.
Me: Okay. But can I also have the number in case I need to call her back?
CSR: It's xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Me: That's the number I've been calling. The one that doesn't work.
CSR: Huh. Well, I'll transfer you now so you can leave a message.
Me: Wait! That's the number I've been calling and it just rings. There's no way to leave a message.
CSR: Well, maybe her voicemail just isn't set up. I'll transfer you over there.
Me: No! Wait! I need to be able to leave a message or talk to someone. How am I going to leave a message if her voicemail isn't set up?
CSR: I don't know. I've never really had to leave a message for her before.
Me: How about Linda's supervisor then?
CSR: Please hold...I"ll transfer you...
*ring* *ring* *ring* *ring*..... ad nauseum
What she meant by "I'll transfer you" was "I'll transfer you again to Linda's non-existent voicemail since I know that's what you want, what you really really want even though you have indicated you don't want that, I know better and it will be far better for me to transfer you to the extension of a person I know is not here and has no voicemail than to transfer you to an actual working extension where you might be able to talk to someone, ANYONE, who is clear on the concept of 'leaving a message.'"