Say That Again? More S.L.O.W.L.Y This Time, Please!


Sometimes as I leave a comment on someone else’s blog, a post I should write occurs to me.

That happened the other day.  Carla at Four by Forty posted here about someone leaving a phone number on her home recorder sooo fast that she had to listen to it over and over again before she could get it down.  I understand totally!

In fact, for about 20 years, a large part of my workday was spent calling and receiving calls from truck salesmen.  And, because those of us who did the quotes were so busy, many times they would have to leave a voice mail that was supposed to include their name and phone number, and even the information we would need in order to give them our quote when we returned their call, if they had it.

Those voice mails, and the garbled, careless way the information was sometimes given, were a frequent source of amusement and/or irritation to those of us who returned the calls.

Carla’s post reminded me of one time in particular when my co-worker, Al, expressed his frustration with this problem to the salesman he was calling back in what I thought was a very funny way. 

Here’s the comment I left on Carla’s post about that:

For many years I worked in a job where we took calls (and received many voice mails) from truck salesmen.  One time, I heard my co-worker in the cubicle across the way return a call to a salesman who apparently had done what you just bemoaned, because I heard Al say to the guy, “Get your pen ready, because I’m going to do my best to give you the information you requested just as fast as you left your telephone number!” 

Same with names.  People would say the most unusual names in a “throw away” tone as if it were as common as Jim Smith!  Amazing.”

And that leads me to the story of Eee-vee Boo-too.  If I didn’t tell you this story, I’m pretty sure Linda would tell it to you in a comment.  It’s a favorite of hers.

When Linda and I worked for the Truck Manufacturer, we were in different departments, but our cubicles were across the wall from each other, so we could sometimes hear what was going on in each other’s area. 

I hadn’t been doing the quotes very long when I got my first call from Quebec, a voice mail.  A man in a dealership in Quebec had left his name and I just could not understand it.  I played the recording over and over again, and every time it sounded to my not-used-to-a-French-accent ear like the man was saying his name was Eee-vee Boo-too.  I knew even at the time that that didn’t really sound like a French name; it sounded more African.  But, even after playing it again and again, that’s what it sounded like he was saying! 

So, I called the dealership and asked to speak to Eee-vee Boo-too.  The receptionist sounded a little incredulous that I would think there was someone there by that name, and kept asking me to repeat it, so I said Eee-vee Boo-too, Eee-vee Boo-too multiple times, each one increasingly louder.  Why is it that when we are being misunderstood, we tend to increase the volume?  Finally, I gave up after I was told with finality that there was definitely no one there by that name.  Period.  I hung up and decided the guy, whatever his name was, would just have to call back again.

I was then sitting at my desk thinking that I hoped all calls from Quebec wouldn’t be that hard (and unsuccessful!) when I heard some soft laughter coming from the Accounting area across the wall, where Linda and her co-worker Janet sat.  I knew what they were laughing about, so I went over to see the gigglers who were getting such a kick out of my failed pronunciation of a French name.   And, who could easily laugh because they had not  just had an unsuccessful, stressful conversation with a not very helpful receptionist in Quebec!

Linda and Janet helped me see the humor in the situation when they told me how the conversation with the receptionist had sounded from their perspective.  And, I think Linda has reminded me more than once of the call to Eee-vee Boo-too!  In fact, now, as soon as either one of us just says the name Eee-vee Boo-too, we both immediately laugh.

So, when I leave my name and number on someone’s recorder, I do it pretty slowly, and then repeat it, again slowly.  It really helps to remember to do that when you’ve been on the other end of a call from Eee-vee Boo-too!

13 Responses to Say That Again? More S.L.O.W.L.Y This Time, Please!

  1. Amy O says:

    I don’t have any good stories like this one. However, because of my past Customer Service days when I was first starting out, I too leave my name and phone number slowly. Thanks for the great chuckle this morning.

  2. Amy O says:

    I need to add something….Did you ever find out what Eee-Vee Boo-Too real name was?

  3. Sandra says:

    Amy — It’s funny NOW, but was really frustrating at the time. No, I never found out who Eee-vee Boo-too was. If he called again, I’m guessing the receptionist might have warned him about our conversation (I did suspect that she recognized who I was trying to say, but was offended at my very poor pronunciation, so wasn’t inclined to help me.), and he may have made sure he spoke very clearly that time, and probably wouldn’t have been anxious to identify himself as the guy who had previously left such a garbled message!

  4. Linda says:

    You’re right. As I was reading the first part of your post today, I was thinking I was just going to have to mention Eee-Vee Boo-Too in my comment. But then you took care of it for me. 🙂 Hope you’re feeling better today. Did you make it to your book club yesterday?

  5. Sandra says:

    Linda — You are soooo predictable! 🙂

    No, I didn’t go to Book Club. I’m still feeling awful and look AWFUL! 😦

  6. Karen says:

    LOL … that is so funny..

    It happens to me all the time, except it’s the other way around. People, here in the US, not understanding me, even when I speak slowly. And I don’t even have that pronounced an accent 🙂

    I wrote a post yesterday, about the trials and tribulations that I went through, the day before, trying to buy a bottle of water with my lunch, at Wendy’s.


  7. Sandra says:

    Karen — I went over and read your post about the bottle of water. How frustrating!

    Maybe that’s the way I made the guy from Quebec (and the receptionist) feel? 🙂

  8. Hilary says:

    I was born in Montreal and continued to live in Quebec for almost 30 years. I worked at the head office of one of our largest department stores and dealt with French-speaking suppliers at a time when many of the staunch separatist-types refused to entertain English as a language of communication. I can practically hear the attitude of the receptionist taking your call. What I can’t figure, even with my decent grasp of French names and accents, is what Eee-vee Boo-too could possibly be. I am, however saying it out loud over and over again in hopes that it will click, and I imagine that I sound something like you did over the phone that day. Good thing only my cats are listening. 😉

  9. Sandra says:

    Hilary — That would be fun if you could come up with a French name it might be! I’ve never really questioned how I pronounced it, but, I do know that I dealt with some guys in Canada whose first name was pronounced “eve”, so would it maybe ring a bell if the first name was just the first part, and the Vee-boo-too was the last name?

    I’m guessing I probably talked to this guy after that, but he never identified himself as the one who called. I’m pretty sure my call was a joke with the people at the dealership. I guess I don’t blame them. It’s always tempting to have a laugh at the expense of someone who is obviously new at what they’re doing! 🙂

    I laughed out loud at the picture of you saying Eee-vee Boo-too over and over again! Been there DONE THAT!! 🙂

  10. Hilary says:

    You’ve got me doing it again! Yves (yes, pronounced Eve) is a very common French Canadian male name (my first husband’s name in fact) but no matter how I place the emphasis, EEBOOTOO just doesn’t conjure up any logical surname. Hébert (pronounced Aye Bear)is the closest I come to making sense of it. But I am having fun, even if my cats think/know I’m a tad nuts.

  11. Sandra says:

    Hilary — I don’t remember for sure (this was probably 25 years ago), but I think part of the problem was that the phone connection was weak and the name was actually garbled by the connection, as much as by how he said it. So, there may well be some extra sounds or omitted ones that I should or shouldn’t have heard.

    You know, if only I could remember the name of the dealership, we could conference call them, and I could listen (and your cat could too, because I’m sure he’s as interested as I am by now!) while you quizzed them on what the name might be! Now THAT would be fun! 🙂

    I love your sharp, inquisitive mind, and great sense of humor, Hilary. God has blessed my life by introducing me to you. 🙂

    I wish you special blessings, love and peace today, friend.

  12. Hilary says:

    Sandra you are so sweet. Thank you for that lovely sentiment. I feel the same way about you. You’re an absolute delight. 🙂

    And I’ve decided that your caller was Yves Thibodaux (Eve TIB-uh-doe). Close enough. 😉

  13. Sandra says:

    Hilary — I bet that’s it!! That really is close! Too bad we’ll never know for sure 😦

    But, it’s been fun working on it with you! 🙂

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