Sunday, September 25, 2005

Me an' God were a-fightin'

I said, "I want," and he said, "No."

I said, "I need," and he said, "Later. Maybe."

I said, "Hey, that doesn't work for me!" and he said, "Too bad, I'm God."

"Ok," I said, "You said specifically that if a son asked for bread you would not give him a stone. Now, what exactly do you call this?!?"

"It's all-knowing goodness. You just don't know it yet."

God and I, we are just fussin'.

A little schmaltz with that?

I have had an epiphany. A minor one at that, but an epiphany nonetheless. Let me give you a little background into how this epiphany occurred.

Last Friday I spoke with a woman who had authorized an $80 credit card payment over the phone because she had been told it would keep her service on. However, that was not the case. She had already been shut off and the CSR would have known that if he/she had been doing the job properly. Discovering that her service was not going to be restored, she called and got me, demanding that the company return her payment. When I explained that the company would not refund her payment because A.) she legally authorized the payment and B.) she owed the money, she became irate and told me what a POS I was to work for such a company and then informed me that she'd be suing my company and myself and my supervisor. And the flea on the hair on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

I have discovered that being a customer service rep is akin to the grease that keeps the pistons from seizing up in your car's engine. We are the grease that lubricates the friction between a ginormous corporation's terrible policies, the incompetent employees and the reasonable customers who are getting bitch slapped. And we are hired to use our "customer service skills" to explain why the customer should be enjoying the experience.

Coming to this realization also made me realize another thing. I don't have any customer service skills. I think the giant corporation is akin to the 50's science fiction monster BLOB that engulfed everything in its wake. I hate making excuses for this company, and I think the customers are rightfully angry - most of the time.

One other thing I would like to note. If I ever work in customer service again, I will make sure it is in face-to-face customer service. Generally, people will avoid looking like an ass in public. They will make a greater effort to keep themselves under control. They are much more likely to use manners, exercise the Golden Rule and refrain from making threats. However, people generally do not make such efforts in the comfort and sanctity of their homes. They will scream, they will cuss, they will call names and they will get very, very personal. And in the end, they still get f*cked. Poor customers.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Abusing the Customers

Come on, anyone of you have had to deal with them know that lurking secretly in your heart is the longing to treat them exactly like they deserve to be treated, like the huge pains in the ass that they are. They deserve to hear they are stupid. They deserve to know that no one really gives a sh*t about their petty little problems. They need to hear how little their complaints really mean to the big, bad corporation. They need a reality check.

While we have all longed to abuse the customer, very few of us have the cajones to actually do it. I, however, exacted one of the most heinous, cruel punishments on a customer that could be devised. And I did it completely on accident.

When I was pregnant for Emily, I worked at Barnes & Noble. I loved every minute of my job there. I loved the customers. I loved the atmosphere. It was a genuine joy to help a customer find the exact book he is looking for when all he can remember is that it is red with black letters. I lived for the challenge of making our customers happy.

One day while working at the cash register, a gorgeously dignified black woman came up and requested her book that had been specially ordered. I went to the bookshelf and quickly found the book with a piece of paper bearing her name held on with rubberband. Slipping the rubber band around my wrist, I rang up the book.

"That will be $14.93," I said as I quickly whipped the book into a Barnes & Noble shopping bag.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said, "This book should only be $2."

"Well, unfortunately I do not see anything in our system. Let me call the supervisor."

I made nervous conversation with the customer while I waited for a supervisor to come and take care of the pricing issue with the customer. Especially at that time in my life, any professional confrontation made me intensely nervous. To my vast relief, I saw Kristen coming. She was one of my best friends and vastly funny. I was sure she'd be able to get it settled quickly.

"I'm sorry," Kristen explained. "This book is $14.93. We can't give it to you for $2."

Within moments, to my ever-growing horror, Kristen began to argue with the customer. This gorgeous, dignified woman was giving as well as she was getting, insisting to Kristen's well-reasoned logic that the book should be given to her for $2. Completely forgetting my presence, they began to debate about what had actually happened when the woman ordered the book. The situation had escalated to an almost shouting match when suddenly the rubberband I had been nervously twittering with flew out of my hands and hit the customer square in the forehead!

Whipping her head toward me with shock and disbelief, Kristen exclaimed, "What did you do that for?!?!"

As though I had done it with a purpose in mind!

As though I was chiming in on her side and the best way to win the argument was to slap her in the forehead with a rubberband!

And with every progressive thought of my whirly-birly mind trying to explain and defend myself, the absurdity of the situation became more obvious. A rising laughter I couldn't control was wrestling its way out of me. And Kristen knew it.

It was that moment of anxiety turning to panic and the insane laughter that seems to explode out of nowhere. Like when your mother falls on the ice and you can't help because you can't stop laughing and you are too weak to keep on standing yourself. And the worst part about it is that you genuinely feel bad. You just can't stop laughing.

Working my mouth frantically to get something out before the guffaws began escaping, I managed to get out, "But I didn't mean to!" before running away. I was still laughing uncontrollably five minutes later when Kristen walked in to find out exactly when I had lost my mind.

God, there are fewer things in life funnier than smacking an angry customer in the forehead with a rubberband. Truly.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Flirty Skirty

This one's a doozy. Or, to be more precise, a floozy. Ok, you ever have one of those days when you just know you look great? You feel great, you look great, the world is your oyster and you fairly bounce as you go about your day? Well, I was having one of those days. I had popped out of bed eager to begin my day of home improvements. I pulled on a zipped jean skirt and a cute little t-shirt and swirled out the door on my way to Lowe's Home Improvement Center. The only blight on my day was my underwear that kept slipping down my hips. Ah, well, I told myself. No one will see. Who cares?

Hopping out of my car that day, I enjoyed prancing into the store. I was just sure that the looks I was getting were in admiration for my foxy-fine self. As I hesitated at the door, an older woman came up to me and whispered something in my ear. I didn't quite catch what she said, so I asked her to repeat herself.

"I said, your skirt is unzipped!"

I gasped and looked down in front.

"Not the front! The back!" she whispered loudly.

In absolute mortification, I whipped my hands to the back and felt a good four inches of crack hanging in the absolute WIND!!!! My underwear, having slipped down yet again, had exposed far more than I would ever have shown to anyone but my doctor! All I could think of was getting my stuff and getting the hell out of there.

Quickly zipping up my skirt, I rushed over to the hardware department sure that every look my way was hiding a smirk in remembrance of my ass crack display. Rushing around the hardware department in an absolute flurry, I couldn't find what I was looking for. To my relief, an employee who worked in that department (and thus could not have seen my ass crack in the parking lot) asked if he could help me.

"Yes. I need this stuff. It's umm... you know, it's paper but it is rough and you rub it on stuff."

"Like...sand paper?" they guy looked at me like I had just escaped from the mental ward.

After collecting my stuff, I paid and left. The only question remaining is....why didn't I just leave? Ah, just another anomoly comprising the charm that is Laura.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Too true tales de moi

I'm going to start a new mini-series on my blog because it appears that my dear readers appreciate the short witty entries to my long-winded societal tirades. C'est ca. I shall begin with a recent story bordering on bathroom humor/public humiliation, two things I happen to know something about.

The day in question found me whizzing along the highway guzzling water, as is my wont, enroute to a day of chesterfield-shopping with my own dear sister. At the time, I still resided in that red-neck-loving town that shall remain nameless, so it was a considerable jaunt to my sister's abode in Grand Rapids. By the time I arrived I was in dire need of Facilities, my kidneys being the overachivers they are. Being only my second trip to my sister's apartment, I relied on my keen sense of direction to point me at her door. Rushing up the stairs, I immediately began to pound urgently, uttering plaintive cries as I did so:

"Jamie! Let me in! Let me in, girl! I need to go potty!" I shouted as I continued to pound. "What is taking you so long? Get your ass moving! I'm dying here!"

At last, I heard her respond, "I'm coming! I'll be right there!" I could tell by the way she said it she was thinking I really was dying!

When the door finally opened, a frazzled looking elderly woman was looking at me with the wide-open eyes of a terrified woman. "Are you ok?" she asked with genuine concern.

Not understanding (apparently the urea had gone to my brain), I exclaimed, "Where's Jamie?!?!"

"I don't know any Jamie. Do you need to use my restroom?"

Damn!

Rushing down the stairs, I knocked on the door directly beneath the old lady's. I knew that if Jamie wasn't upstairs, she had to be the apartment directly below. To my surprise, it was not Jamie who answered the door. It was a beer-guzzling, pot smoking, dirty-looking guy who was partying it up with his good friends at 10:30 on a Saturday morning.

"Hey, baby" he said, "How's it going?" Somehow he managed to burp it out without once raising his eyes above my cleavage-level.

Damn! Foiled again!

I quickly excused myself and rushed away, but being the gallant gent he so obviously was, he decided to escort me.

Walking quickly, I was loudly explaining that I knew exactly where I was going when....Jamie walked out on her balcony.

We both nearly peed our pants over it.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Blogging for the ADD Generation

Well! I was mightily offended by The One and Only Bunnyjo Fan's most recent post...until I started thinking about it (see comments on "Can I just say?" below). Then I realized that since most of the world is at least partly ADD thanks to the programming we all received as children mindlessly absorbing Roadrunner cartoons and "cuckoo for Co-co Puffs" type cartoons, I really must begin to blog NOT FOR CONTENT but for LENGTH OF ATTENTION SPAN, thus reducing my nuggets of wisdom to mere grains. However, judging from the quality of lives my dear readers are living, mere grains are enough to spark general improvement.

C'est moi, Bunnyjo!!!

Political Quagmire

A revolving calliope of hurricane Katrina's aftermath twists our guts, brings tears to our eyes and whispered prayers of thanksgiving for the safety of our own loved ones as well as hope, resources and restoration to the hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee their homes. In the wake of what it being called the worst natural disaster in America's history, there appears to be no shortage of sympathy and concern.

Predictably, a discernible shortage of resources by Louisiana's poorest segment of society, comprised primarily of blacks, left them hardest hit as they struggled to survive the category four fury imposed by Katrina. In the days that followed, New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin errupted in tears and volleys of cursing over the slow Federal response to a city out of control. Amongst the greatest concern were the looters who stripped many businesses of supplies such as diapers, food and drinks. However, as one newsclip showed two young black men carrying bags filled with what appeared to be shoe boxes, not all the looting was for supplies. Even worse, rival gangs began pelting the police headquarters in New Orleans where the grim sign hung: Fort Apache. For non-history buffs,

Love her or hate her, Cindy Sheehan represents what is best about democracy: the right to publicly debate the decisions made by the powers that be. But what makes her mad-mother tirade all the more poignant is that the very thing she is protesting - the war in Iraq - is being waged in the name of spreading democracy by a nation that is incapable of initiating enough passion in a vast number of voters to participate in something as simple as voting, much less participating in the process of political debate as Cindy Sheehan is doing. The critical lesson here is much less about one woman's grief and much more about the impact one passionate, driven individual can make on a nation at large. So, whether you are a student or a faculty member or an administrative official, the power to make a difference rests within your own two hands. If you care enough, that is.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Looters at Fort Apache

Thank God they got those people out of New Orleans. I was almost late everyday for work as my eyes were glued in shockish horror at the unbelievable images of human devastation floating in front of my eyes. Floating because of the tears I couldn't hold back. And then five extra minutes to re-apply my eye make up. Oh, living a life of beauty is rigorous.

All those soft feathery feelings turned to hardened Elmer's glue, however, when I began to see the coverage of looters ripping off Walgreens Drugstore. Walgreens! It was horrendous. Well....on second thought perhaps it wasn't so horrendous. I saw one woman run out with a couple bags of Huggies. Watcha gonna do when you run outta diapers, huh? Rob a Walgreens.

Seriously, though, it was the picture of two young black men trudging through calf-deep water with bags stuffed with what looked like shoe boxes that really pissed me off. Then I heard a reporter talking about how the police headquarters in New Orleans was coming under so much gunfire by gangs and vigilantes that someone put up a sign that said "Fort Apache." Galling.

Made me not wanna donate any money.

But then I started thinking (ka-blam!!!) Perhaps the reason so many black people were robbing and looting had less to do with their moral character and more to do with what they had learned to expect through a lifetime of conditioning in a town rife with racism. Like not to expect a policeman when you need one. That the needs of white people tend to come first. And that in a choice between a black man who needs rescuing and a white man who needs rescuing, the black man better have a plan B.

Can I Just Say?

If you are going to sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie.

Just another nugget of genius descended from on high. Happy tinkling.