Beat the Clock / by Courtney Mehlhaff

I recently found myself trying to explain to a colleague the physical impossibilities of completing a large amount of work in a very limited timeframe, and I was reminded of a story from my sister's days in customer service.

She was working in a credit card call center, and she handled only the "escalated" calls. This was deemed a promotion, though I can't imagine anything worse than taking that much verbal abuse.

On the other end of the line was a very determined woman who wanted something fixed on her account. My sister apologized and explained several times that she was unable to rectify the situation because it had occurred so long ago, but the woman refused to give up.

Completely exasperated, my sister finally said, "Ma'am . . . . . I can't help you in the past."

Without a doubt, this is one of the truest snarky statements a person could utter. However, to her everlasting credit, the woman fired off one of the greatest comebacks ever. 

"Yeah," she said, dryly. "I understand how time works."

A lofty concept, indeed. I wish everyone who dealt with deadlines had a similar level of basic knowledge.