To provide a bit of context, the area at the bottom of a set of stairs was often used to leave pushchairs, rather than walking to the lift and using the lift, or taking the pushchairs upstairs.
This not only blocked a fire escape (to the degree that some people would "tuck out of the way", actually inside the alcove of the fire escape door) but also presented a safety risk (leaving unattended, unidentified bags in a busy public venue) a "we're not responsible for your stuff being nicked" risk, and sometimes prevented people accessing art and exhibition panels when they were mounted on the walls in this space.
Signs were either willfully or obliviously ignored, often with minor panic when people were then informed that their pushchair was now relocated, to a safe place, outside the building.
This story sumbitted, and a bit hard to render as a cartoon due to conversational content. Thanks for sending it in Pete!
A phone call to the museum's polite reception desk, in December:
Customer: "Hi, we're planning our family holiday for July. Can you tell me what activities you'll have on what days? We want to book a week while the hotel is still cheap, and our son really enjoyed the event he came to in the summer."
Staff: "We have some things pencilled in for July, but they won't be announced until March, when we have all the details like performers and artists confirmed. We don't like to announce things until we know it's all booked in, or it can dissapoint people."
Customer: "If you can just tell me what's pencilled in, that'll be fine."
Staff: "I can, as long as you realise that these events may change. If you book your hotel now based on a certain date, an event probabaly will happen that day, but perhaps not the one I tell you now. Also, sometimes our smaller events sell out or book up within a day of being announced, so there's no guarantee of your son getting a ticket or place, unless you're fast!"
Customer: "So you can tell me a date, for an unknown event, for which my son may not get a ticket? What's the use of that?!"
Staff: "You are planning much further ahead than most of our visitors, so I can only be honest about the information I have available to me at the moment."
According to Pete "The customer we still unhappy, despite receptionist being willing to give details well in advance of public announcement, and [the customer] said that the more money they had to spend on booking a hotel later, the less they would spend at the musuem, and it would be her son and us that would suffer"
On the one hand, kudos to a customer planning ahead rather than the usual "What do you mean my child can't attend this sold out event tomorrow? I prromised them already!". On the other hand, one should probabaly not get angry with someone trying to help you, to the best of their ability, while ensuriung you are aware of potential issues with the information they are giving you.
Winter nights have drawn in, and many museums and houses are using the dark hours to run dark events - ghost hunts, bat watches, lantern making... So when a photography club emailed an "Elizabethan House" about some night time photography, staff replied to them, willing to help plan an after hours visit.
I know about this because the photography club's response to this plan was apparently so unpleasant, that the house's staff compiled a joke letter, and then wanted to share it with you all.
It is easy for us, within our institutions, with our detailed knowledge of how they function, to scoff at public misunderstanding about their inner workings. We have a duty to educate and inform the public not only about historic sites, but also the surprising ongoing costs just to maintain the status quo, let alone develop them.
Aaaaaalllthough... Staff frustration is very understandable when someone expects to bring 8 to 15 people on a special out of hours visit, paying less for the whole group than is usually paid for one person!
And they then threaten to break into your venue.
Read on to see the full image sent to me of the venue's mock letter.
And do watch out for that box hedge!
A synopsis of the email I received:
"My gallery encourages lunch break visits... very popular to relax for 15 minutes in the city... council staff use the cafe as it's the nearest real coffee to the main office...They got aggressive, began almost shouting, acted like I'd yelled at them or spoken like they were stupid or something. It was upsetting when I'd been as polite as possible to them when they knew they were openly breaking rules."
This pair were hoist by their own petard though. As they were wearing their council badges, the gallery manager was able to contact their manager about their conduct in public. This local authority apparently has rules about conduct while publicly identifiable as council staff, so having offered that tidbit, the gallery manager left the rest in the hands of their manager.
A toddler who has grasped the idea that Christmas means ripping wrapping paper off of boxes, came into his own private heaven when faced with a Christmas tree piled high with gifts. The presents were all empty boxes wrapped for display, but when your priority is just ripping paper, that's no matter!
A submitted tale...
The first member of reception staff to arrive switches the phone settings from 'absent' to 'present', goes through the voice-mail, responds to anything urgent, and then checks emails.
My colleague came in, and found almost 20 missed calls from the previous evening, and around 10 from early that morning, but no messages left.
About 5 minutes before opening, the phone rang.
"Oh so you do have staff! I assumed that you were too busy drinking tea or playing croquet to bother even phoning me back! When do you actually open today?"
"Our hours are 12.00 to 4.30 on weekdays, I'm sorry if that wasn't clear in our voice-mail message when you called. Because you called after 4.30, and then before 12.00, there was no-one here to take your call, again I apologise if that wan't clear. And please be assured that I would have returned your call, but regrettably didn't have a number to return your call to."
"...well, Thank you!"
The gentleman had called almost 30 times, but hadn't listened to a word of our instantly played voice-mail message, preferring instead to immediately hang-up, get increasingly frustrated and continue wasting his own time.
The staff member was awarded that week's chocolate biscuit for handling an unpleasant visitor.
I am both impressed and vaguely concerned that this venue/team has a weekly award for having handled an unpleasant visitor. That either indicates a good sense of humour, or a worrying necessity for boosting morale in the face of unrelenting stupidity.
If you have a tale of museum, art gallery or heritage venue woe or comedy, do drop a line in, and it may even become a cartoon of it's own!
Thanks to the new follower who submitted this tale of someone playing fast and loose with interpreting the rules for visiting their property. The lady with the dog was quite cheerful, and unaware of the issues behind the rules. Her friend was the one to argue the case, threatening to "write to your head office and ask for my membership to be refunded" if the staff "persisted in being petty and demanding."
The issue was resolved when the lady with the dog suggested he may get restless anyway, so if they put him in the car they'd be able to enjoy the house without him wiggling around.
Webcomic and occasional blog about the heritage sector.
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