Isn’t it funny how we judge people by their voices? How we build up a mental picture of what they look like, the kind of people they are and the sort of lifestyle they lead.

In my old job a few of times I met people who I’d spoken to almost on a daily basis on the phone. The last time being when I’d dropped in on a leaving-do and spoke to a person who had joined the team after my departure. I found their voice familiar, but didn’t quite have the complete certainty and courage to mention it. Later on after they’d left I asked someone if they had happened to know if they’d previously worked at the organisation I recognised the voice from and it turns out it was the same person. Some six or so years on I still recognised the voice. In each case though when I met the person behind the voice it confirmed the picture in my head was way off the mark.

I was caught out by this again today whan I took a call from what sounded like a lovely old lady. She had a voice I’d describe as ‘Vicar’s wife’ that is middle-class but not haughty middle-class. I could imagine her in a floral apron presenting her grandchildren with a treat of fairy cakes and lemonade.

She’d called as she had not received the catalogue she had requested a week ago. I advised her that the catalogues were only sent out in bulk mailings and that the next one would be when the new catalogue is launched in a couple of weeks. She told me that she hadn’t been made aware of this when she had made the request and that she had wanted to choose a present for someone who had a birthday coming up. I was about to suggest looking at our website, or else I’d help her to make a selection, but was prevented by her sudden outburst of “well that’s not very helpful.. you’re just a waste of space” before slamming the phone down.

I was dumbstruck! How wrong my minds eye was again.

Later on in my shift I had another elderly lady tearing into me. I detected a theme to the day and was reminded of this Father Ted episode which illustrates the dangers of what seem on outward appearances to be nice old ladies.



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