My Encounter With an Angry Viewer
When boss lady asks me to come in a bit early for cut-ins, I'm happy to oblige. Forecasting the weather can get tricky. It's important to be on top of your game at all times. People usually are quick to ask, "When is the storm coming?" "How long is it gonna last?"
There are times when I'm crunching (some say crashing, I say crunching), and I'd get a phone call from a colleague- "I'm planning to go hang out with some friends later tonight. Is it gonna be like really bad?" I think to myself, "Like dude for real? You're really asking me this right now and I'm about to go up live?! Seriously?" Instead of losing it, I give them the info they need. From time to time there are those who will say, "I know you've been reporting the weather all day. But, I wasn't really paying attention. So, what's it gonna be like outside?
If you're reading this and think that I'm being a total beeyotch, you got me all wrong. I actually think it's quite comical. I remember being the one asking the Meteorologist these same questions before making the switch to weather. It's like karma coming back to bite be in the a**. On a serious note, I really do appreciate the questions. It shows that that they look to me as their weather authority. Even if I'm swamped, I think it's important to answer questions. That's what I'm here for.
I recall receiving a phone call from one of our interns from the assignment desk. I remember her telling me about an angry viewer demanding to speak to a weather forecaster. Normally I don't take calls from viewers. But something in me says to take the call. FYI, we are going up live in less than one hour.
Me:"________. How can I help you?"
Caller: "That's how you answer the phone? With an attitude?
You don't have to have an attitude! That's how you treat people?"
Me: "I'm sorry if you think I'm being rude. It's just that we're in the middle of storm coverage and there is a sense of urgency. How can I help you?"
Caller: "When I call ______, they are nice and they're not rude! I don't know none of these people here. The only one I know is Stacy-Ann. I don't know no body else."
This person continues to ramble on- obviously not knowing it's me on the phone. I don't bother telling the caller my name), and I am hoping not to get dissed. Thank goodness, I'm not! Whew!
Me: "Is there something I can help you with?"
Caller: "Well, I want to know about the weather. Ya'll keep saying the same things over and over again. You're supposed to be a 24 hour channel. Every time I turn on the TV, ya'll are not telling me exactly where it's raining."
Me: "Well, we are tracking storms and they won't be arriving until later this evening. We air live newscasts that repeat throughout the evening. Where exactly are you?"
Caller: "I'm in ______. What I wanna know is when it's supposed to hail. Is it gonna mess up my house? Is it gonna mess up my car?"
This caller is clearly very irate and I wonder if I'd ever be able to calm this person down. I give a quick synopsis of the forecast. I mention that we've been tracking some severe thunderstorms out west, and that those storms are accompanied my hail, lightning, gusty winds, and flooding. I reassure this person that we'll be updating our forecast throughout the evening, and will inform viewers when to expect the rain to arrive. I also provide a timeline.
By the end of the conversation this caller does a complete 180. This person even starts cracking jokes. The caller goes from being upset to happy in a matter of 20 minutes. I couldn't believe we've been talking for that long. But, I don't mind. It's important that this person hangs up the phone with peace of mind. That's what I would want for myself.
What would you have done, if you were in my shoes?
Weather Anchor Mama