At this point, I’ve worked in my school’s financial aid office for about ten months or so, and I can already say I’ve already received a lifetime’s worth of insults.
I’ve compiled a list of some points that have popped up time and time again.
1. People will always lie.
Always. One of the many facets of the beauty of living in a very digitized world is the fact that we are able to check the exact time of certain transactions or just when paperwork was really turned in. Sob stories are frequent visitors at the office, which is sometimes interesting and other times obnoxious. It’s astonishing how a 7th year senior trying to get his degree in a sudden rush can have 13 different grandmothers who have all died within the span of the last three years.
2. People like to cry.
I can’t say that I’ve ever had someone cry to me while I was servicing him or her, but it does happen when you work the front window desk a lot. My theory is that since I’m a male who probably comes across pretty stone-faced and stoic while at work, and there is an expectation that I won’t be moved by tears just given the way I go about my business, people aren’t generally inclined to cry in front of me. Whenever I get one of my female coworkers who has more expertise in the area being dealt with is when the waterworks ensue. Just a pointer: It doesn’t make us want to help you more or elicit sympathy; it only makes us question your maturity. Side note: Once when I was working at the window, a mother once came up and thanked us (there were a lot of tears shed by both her and the employees) because we were able to fund her son for a certain program. That kind of crying is more than acceptable.
3. Please do not bring us food.
It really freaks us out (especially if we suspect you’ve sweetened the cake/cupcakes/cookies with Stevia). When I first started working, it didn’t weird me out, but when I would see my more senior coworkers be really cautious and somewhat paranoid, the thought that I could be that one guy from the news story was just running miles around and around my mind. A lot of disgruntled students would love to poison everyone in the office. This creates a bit of a dilemma, though, if a student wants to thank us. What should he/she bring? I don’t actually have a clear cut answer to that question, but you might just want to get creative with that. Once a student brought in cornhusk dolls; it was weird but creative.
4. No matter how many supervisors get involved, your answer will remain the same.
Everyone wants to talk to our supervisor, then supervisor, and then her supervisor. We have all been trained with how to deal with students, and we operate under the same set of guidelines as everyone else. We can climb up the ladder of supervisors until we reach Obama (disclaimer: contrary to popular belief, we do not actually work for the government) and your answer will still remain the same. I’m sorry it’s against policy to give out loans for under $100 and we would be violating federal law if we did, but I do think your purchase of GTAV can indeed wait.
5. Apparently I am divinity and also the antithesis of divinity.
While working the phones and answering the calls of students and their angry moms, you get called a wide array of names. I was once called “The Literal Devil” by someone to whom I had to deliver bad news. This disappointed me not because of the insult, but because I thought that as the CEO of Hell, I’d be getting paid a tad bit more than minimum wage. I’ve also been called God because apparently I hold the fate of everyone in my hands. If this were the case, I probably would have changed the course of Ellie Goulding’s fate and she and I would be happily married with a herd of thousands of basset hounds following us with joy. Really though, calling a customer service worker names will not help your case, and it only makes us less eager to help you.
6. Flirting is nice, but does not change answers.
I’m a guy, and as the social paradigm is, it’s not as common for guys to be flirted with in normal social circumstances as it is for girls. I completely understand this. Whenever a girl comes in and needs something and is clearly flirting with me, I know exactly what’s going on. I’m fully aware that you’re trying to get your deadlines moved or your money quicker or whatever, but don’t think I’m that stupid. Just don’t come in with expectations that flirting with me will accomplish something. If you come into my work, then you’re finding me at my most misanthropic of times, and the last thing I’m looking for is romance, which is why I have superpowers and can tell when flirting is genuine only between the times of 9am and 5pm. Having just said that, if you do want to flirt, by all means go ahead. It always brightens my day. Just don’t get your expectations up, because I always feel bad after I give bad news to someone who just complimented my smile. It was really nice of you to say. Thank you.
Dealing with people’s money is always a fragile situation. It then becomes even more delicate when people’s education and future are involved. Working in this office has given me a plethora of experience, for which I am very grateful. While spending upwards of 12 hours a day on campus between work and class, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s honestly hard to find a day here where you don’t experience something completely new and different.