"I'm sorry," I told her. "But our computers are down this weekend, so I don't have any access to reservations, much less the ability to print a confirmation for you, right now. You could see whether the Central Reservations will fax or email a confirmation to you; I can give you their number." [It's been a hassle-filled weekend, thanks to tech support's refusal to work weekends, the busiest time for hotels.]
Getting huffy she said, "Well, I talked to Jennifer, and she told me I could come pick up a confirmation. She said your fax wasn't working." [We have had problems with our fax machine recently, so it seemed reasonable that that would have happened, but without computers, it was a moot point anyway.]
"I'm not sure why she would have told you that, since our computers are down, and have been since Friday. We don't have any way to even look up a reservation right now, and can't make them either. Are you sure you didn't misunderstand?"
"No, I told her I would come in to pick it up, and she said 'OK.'"
Jennifer's new, but she's smart and has caught on to the job quickly. I was pretty sure she wouldn't have said that when she was working Friday or Saturday evening, when we had no computers. Suddenly struck with a suspicion, I asked, "When did you speak to Jennifer?"
"About two weeks ago. I was at work, and I needed her to fax it, but she said she couldn't."
No way. "You told her two weeks ago that you were coming in to pick up a printed confirmation?"
"Yes, and I am very upset that she didn't say you couldn't do it for me. Why would she say it was ok if you can't?"
The woman was clearly demented. I told her, "I'm sorry, but our computer wasn't broken two weeks ago, so she had no way of knowing that when you came in today, we couldn't print a confirmation."
"She should have said you couldn't do it instead of wasting my time, making me come out here to pick one up. I told her I would come in on a weekend, and she said it was fine."
I stared at her. "Jennifer did nothing wrong, ma'am. She had no way to predict two weeks ago that you would come in today, and that our computers would be down. Surely you understand that?"
We stared at each other.
"It's a waste of my time," she repeated.
I shouldn't be surprised.