Monday 1 December 2014

Me vs Working with People

While in high school and university, I worked a number of bad jobs, and really, who hasn’t? For example, I realized pretty quickly that I hated being a waitress with the burning passion of a thousand dying suns. When people ask how the food is, apparently it’s not ok to tell the truth.  Colour me surprised.

I also made a poor door-to-door knife salesman. And yes, those are actually a thing. Thanks CutCo. I lasted until the end of the interview when they offered me the job. I politely told them that the job was basically a massacre waiting to happen, and I would be safer trying to live out my life as a penguin avoiding leopard seals. As far as I’m concerned, no one in their right mind should A) go door to door selling things. Ever. B) go door to door with a case full of knives, or C) consider buying anything from a person who shows up at their door with a case full of knives.  Want to buy some knives? BUY THEM OR I’LL CUT YOU! I’LL CUT YOU!

Then there was my stint as a cell phone sales rep.  This job taught me that anytime you have to deal with people and their money, you should just run the other way. Selling things wasn’t even the problem…it was the customer service issues that came along with the sales:

-     -  People who had missed payments and had their service cut off: No, I did not personally shut off your phone. No, I don’t have a big button that will instantly reactivate it. No, I didn’t do this TO you because I hate you (however you are being kind of a dick). Pay your bill jerk face, and maybe this wouldn’t happen. So few of them caught on.
 -    -  People whose phones had stopped working for reasons that completely escaped them: So you’re telling me you dropped it in a toilet…no, I won’t touch it. It’s not working because it fell in the shitter, I don’t need to hold it to come to that conclusion. Get a new phone. Oh, so you woke up and the screen was broken? Well, must have been the fairy folk, and not just you sitting on it. I can see the divot from where your ass crushed it. Piss off.  

-     -  People who just didn’t get how phones worked: Yes, you do need to charge it for it to work. Yes, it is important to push the call button in order to make a call. Similarly, please push the hang up button to hang up. I can show you how to navigate the menu…..please stop swearing at me.

And then there were the special few customers who stood out among all the others. These were my favourite people because they made for the best stories at future interviews when I was asked about how to deal with difficult people. 

First there was Barky McBarkerson. He liked me and despised the other employees. He was also as crazy as a sideways fuck in a rainstorm. He would walk down the halls of the local mall screaming my name, so I knew he was coming. As a plus, this frequently gave me time to hide. When he did arrive at our little booth, he would bark at the other customers at the kiosk. You read that correctly. Bark. Like a dog. 

Frequently the barking would tire him out and he would fall over. On a particularly good day he decided to show me the ultrasound picture of his upcoming baby. He pulled the picture out of a duffle bag full of weed, winking at me like we were conspirators, or maybe it was code for “do you want some?”. In either case, father of the year.

A close follower to Sir Barks-a-lot was the crazy lady who didn’t like paying for her phone, since she never used it. Our encounter went something like this:

Me:  I can help you disconnect the phone it if you like, if you never use it?
Her: No. I still want it, but I don’t want to pay for it all the time.
Me: Ok, can I help you set it up on a pay-as-you-go system?
Her: No, that sounds too confusing.
Me: Um, ok, I can explain it to you, and write down directions for using the system?
Her: No, I don’t like reading direction, and I hate your company. 
And then she proceeded to reach across the counter and wrap her wizened old lady fingers around my neck to try and strangle me. That escalated quickly. Granted she was pushing 80 years old, and wasn’t a really big threat, but still, what the hell old woman???

Now to be fair, I did this for a long time, and if customers were polite, I did everything in my power to help them, regardless of how stupid the issue was. I even managed to achieve a level of zen that allowed me to look at them in the eye while the told me stories about their damaged phones that were blatantly false.  

The ones I had trouble tolerating were the rude and entitled people who treated you as if you owed them. It was like they expected us to bow obediently to their command because the customer was ALWAYS right. Um, nope. Customers, as a group, are frequently dumb as shit and completely outside-of-reality wrong. Anyone who has worked in retail knows this, and has come to accept it as a cross they must bare.

Happily there were more good people than bad, but it really firmed up my opinion that everyone should work at least some stint in customer service, because it really shows you how important it is to be nice to the people who are trying to help you.

All this being said, most of my jobs weren’t completely dismal, and as seen above, often brought me some worthwhile stories, however the following bit of unexplainable idiocy still boggles my mind.

Several years ago I came across a sales coworker who really made me question everything. This individual made me wonder how on earth they were able to get up in the morning and remember the route to the office, because so many other things seemed beyond them. This person was mostly harmless, but that is likely because they lacked the capacity to do anything clever enough to be dangerous.  
So then this conversation happened:

Me: I brought in some M&M cookies I made. Would you like one?
Them: Oh, did you make these?
Me: (pause) …..yes.
Them: Wow, can I have one?
Me: Um….yes?
Them: Really? They’re for everyone?
Me: (Sweet fucking hell) Yes. Enjoy.
Them: (omnomnomnomnom) These are so good. Did you make them?
Me: (I may pass out from the physical exertion of trying to keep my inside voice inside) Thank you, and yes I did.
Them: I just have one question…..
Me: That really seems more like a fifth question. Hahahaha. (attempting to make joking smile that doesn’t devolve into a sarcastic grimace…probably failing, but they didn’t notice)
Not M&M cookies, but you get the idea that
I'm not exactly Martha Stewart when it comes
to nice looking cookies. They look like they were
made by kids. They were.
Them: Huh?
Me: Never mind.
Them: I just wondered how you got the M&Ms into the cookies? Did you poke them in one by one???

I’m going to pause here to describe these cookies for you folks at home. They looked like cookies a 2 year old made, because a 2 year old helped make them. They were a mishmash of cookie-dough-wrapped candy bits that could not possibly have been neatly “poked in” after baking. Is that even a thing?

Me: (stunned silence…literally no words)
Them: I mean, I just don’t get how you got the M&Ms into the cookies…was it hard?
Me: Well you know how you make chocolate chip cookies? Like stirring chocolate chips into dough?
Them: Yes.
Me: Like that.  (this was honestly the best I could do, and I recognize it wasn’t great)

I had just explained the concept of mixing to a grown human being that was presently in a position of authority over me. I died a little inside.

It was at that moment I decided I was ready to retire.

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