Public Service vs. Private Enterprise

Have you ever heard someone refer with a sneer to “the gubmint” or say that something is “good enough for government work”? I must say I really hate that.

Many years ago, I ran the  Complaint Department for the City of Honolulu. My home phone number was listed in the local telephone directory and, as you would expect, I frequently got calls at home from citizen-taxpayers with complaints or problems. At the express direction of the mayor, home telephone numbers for every city department head were included in the  directory, including the mayor himself. The only exception was the Chief of Police.

A few weeks ago, I had a not-terribly-important reason to talk to the head of  “Corporate Communications” for a major Hawaii company.  I know this guy from years ago when we were both in the advertising/PR business in Honolulu. 

To get his phone number, I went on line to his company’s web site, typed in “Corporate Officers”, and hit the return key. 

Sure enough, up popped a page with photos of the company’s management team. Two thirds of the way down the page was my friend—his photo, his name, his job title, and three or four sentences for a brief job description.

But no phone number. Not a direct line and no main number with his extension.

In fact, there were no phone numbers given for any of the individuals being presented as the company’s “Management Team”. Not one phone number on the entire page.

I clicked back to the company’s home page and there, at the very bottom was one phone number.

I made the call and, after several rings, a female voice answered. It was a recording. In a business-like manner, she ran down a list of the various departments. Finally the voice said “For Corporate Communications, press one-eight.”

I did as instructed.

There was a pause, two ring tones, and another recorded female voice speaking rapidly and in a monotone: “Leave your name and number. Someone will call you back.” 

I did, but never got a call back from Corporate Communications.

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