I was perched over my desk feeling like the lady from the AAMI ads. (for non-Australians this is her)
Headset on, best smile on face (they can feel it through the phone you know) hands nervously hovering over the keyboard hoping I could co-ordinate their words with my typing.
"Courier Newspapers , Sharni speaking" I said enthusiastically, though terrified.
"Need to place an ad in the Wentworth Courier" said the voice on the other end.
She sounded like an older lady, maybe someone my Mum's age.
So here I was nervously about to officially place my first ad into the paper with a real life advertiser.
Everything we had been taught at training about to be applied.
"What would you like to say in your ad?" I asked in my best voice.
" Big, bouncy, and expensive ladies" the voice muttered as if reeling off items at a garage sale.
I felt a lump form in my throat. My voicebox attempted to reply but the lump rose and suddenly I was frozen in my tracks.
This had not been in my training!
"Um.... sorry?" I asked, hoping I had severely misheard my first client
She took an exasperated sigh before repeating again " Big, bouncy and expensive ladies"
"Oh, ummm.. what section did you want to place your ad in? " I asked looking around at the other operators.
One of my more senior colleagues was looking over absolutely lost in hysterics at me.
She realised who I was talking to and could see I was ill prepared for what I was hearing.
"A place to rent, what do you think?" the now annoyed lady on the phone replied
"Oh you are placing an Adults Service ad?" I said, trying to sound like I took these sort of ads all the time
"Derrrr.." she replied.
"Just hold the line for a sec"
My colleague was now falling over her chair in laughter, my face had turned white and I did not know what to do.
"Can I put her through to you?" I asked my colleague in desperation
"No!" she said " Just take the details down!!"
I got back on the phone and apologised to my client.
I decided honesty was the best policy here.
"I'm sorry, " I said "First day here and my first Adult services ad."
This seemed to soften the lady a little
"So," I said regaining my compusure "Big, bouncy and explosive you said?"
"EXPENSIVE" she said
"Oh no, it is $8 per word" I replied
"No, the ladies are expensive, not the ad" she said
I was totally confused. I quickly typed the words in - went through the booking and had successfully placed my first ad into the Wentworth Courier and it went straight to the Adult Services section.
When I hung up - I burst into laughter. I wasn't ready for that for phone call number one.
A week later when the paper came out I was called into my bosses office.
She asked me about the Adult Services ad that I placed as there had been a complaint.
In the advertisement I had typed "Big, Bouncy, Explosive ladies" but it should have read " Big , Bouncy and Expensive ladies"
"Really?" I asked my boss.
"Surely explosive sounds better than expensive??"
I couldn't believe these words were coming out of my mouth!
My introduction to newspapers and what a baptism by fire!!
Luckily my boss saw the funny side of it, whereby apparantly the client did not.
I called the client up to apologise for my mistake - in the end she saw it funny.
A week later, the lady in question turned up to the offices and asked to see me! I nervously went out to the foyer where I met up with my 'adult services' client.
She eventually come around to thinking that explosive did sound more appealing than expensive.
Would you believe from that moment forward she made weekly trips to the FPC offices for advice on how to write her ads, yes little old me - kid from the country, being asked if it sounds better to say "Naughty but nice" or "She loves to be spanked".
Apparantly I had a way with the words.
My boss found it hysterical, and I will never forget my introduction to working at newspapers in the big city.