Chapter 3 - Working with People
Alright, so whose sick idea was it to fill all our heads will all this nonsense anyway? I want to know who is responsible for this bullshit buffet right now. OK, here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to turn around and count to ten, and when I turn back around I want the name of the origin of this crap on the table in front of me , on a little slip of paper. Listen people, NO ONE is leaving the room until I find out who started this mess. OK, here I go. 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...9 and 1/2... 10. OK, now I'm turning around.... Oh, good! I see that someone has placed a piece of paper on the table, thanks, I really appreciate it. Let's see who it is... "We'll all take it to the grave you whiney bitch"?!? Who wrote this? Listen people, I can wait alllll day....
OK, so maybe I'm never gonna find out which person or what agency is
responsible for the flood of refined B.S. to the mind of the public. But
it irks me that people will believe almost anything if they hear it enough.
"It's not if you win or lose, it's how you play the game."
Yeah, OK... tell that to the Chinese women's soccer team, if you can dodge the
stream of glass bottels and bullets being lobbed and shot at them from their
dishonored Chinese peers, and see what they say. It's the little catch
phrases that are brain washing all of us into a bunch of driveling zombies. And
one of those little idealistical pieces of knowledge that everyone seems to
believe is the whole "Love your job" bit. I don't know, maybe
it's just me, maybe it's just where I live, maybe somewhere else in the middle
of Iowa there's a whole town of people walking around smiling all day long,
laughing, havin' a good old time at their minimum wage job.
Woman: Hi, welcome to McDonalds sir, how are you doing today?
Man: I'm fine, thanks, how are you
Woman: Superb, never been better, thanks. You know how it is. Life is sweet when you love your job like I do.
Man:(Laugh) Yeah, don't we all! I just finished up the 10 hours of overtime that I was doing for free. See, 8 hour shifts on the local road construction crew just don't cut it for me, so I figured too much of a good... no great... thing can't hurt...
Woman: Wow, sounds like you really love your job. What can I get for you?
Man: I'll have 17 big macs, 13 sodas, 6 fries, and one kids meal please.
Woman: Swell, coming right up! That'll come to $34.65
Man: Ooooooh, you know what, I got that mixed up. What I actually need is a small soda. I don't know what I was thinking. Hope that I didn't cause you any trouble.
Woman: Oh don't worry about it, it only comes out of my paycheck, but no big deal. Materialistic things aren't important when you love your job as much as I do.
Man: (Laughs again) Life sure is sweet, isn't it?
Woman: It sure is sir, it sure is.
But until the day that I find conclusive evidence that this is somewhere true, I'm going to have to assume that everyone else feels the same way as I do about their job. That, of course, is that they hate it. The whole combination of work, money that's just flat-out NOT yours, annoying people, long hours, inconvenient shifts, inconsiderate managers, annoying co-workers, and a general cluelessness for what's going on makes for work to be a somewhat disagreeable experience. Work is the most important part of having a job, yet surprisingly it's the least aggrivating part. Secretly, probably about 1/10th of your wage or salary is based on how much work you actually do. About 1/5 is how much money that's NOT yours you handle. Again, this is not difficult, other then the random urges to just rip all of the money out of the drawer, tear your clothes off, and run screaming for the border. Long hours and inconvenient shifts, such as the lovely Friday night 5 to 2 A.M. shift, are basically an understood part of every job, and thus really don't compute much into the salary. Bossy managers, annoying co-workers, and a general cluelessness for what's going on are all also pretty standard also. But the big kahuna, the whopper of the job, le gran finale, is the mass of annoying customers that you have to deal with EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU WORK. They will always find you, no matter what you're doing, no matter where you work, no matter what time. They KNOW all the details. They know all the products that happen to be on sale. They have the inability to avoid health hazards, such as broken glass, jagged edges, and the occassional slick spot on the floor. These are the people that could be in "The Padding, Pillows, and Cusion Store" and still manage to hurt themselves. They creep their ways into cracks, they purposely walk down the "Gauntlet containing swords and circular saws" aisle of the store, they innocently stand while shelves of electronic equipment, all plugged in, fall on their heads. And most of all, they have the "Itch to Bitch". If you're lucky enough to spot one before it's too late, you can avoid a lot of trouble by just simply not asking them how they are. In fact, not associating with them at all is the best route. But sometimes, no matter how hard one tries, there will be an encounter with one of these gloom-spreading demons of hell. Some of them look so innocent. They look like every day, normal people, on their merry ways to or from their jobs that they love so much. And they are, of course, until you ask them the forbidden question; "How are you doing today?" As if some African magic spell, these words unlock the evil spirit that until that point had been contained for thousands of years, cursed to be held inside until the holy words, "How are ya today" are muttered. And you're just the lucky one who happens to preach this phrase of doom. Good job. Well, of course, now you have to deal with the suddenly disgruntled customer. The usual response: "Oh, you don't want to know, trust me, you don't want to know", and a little chuckle. "Oh good," you think, "everything is back to normal"... think again. This clever strategic move on the part of the customer limits you to three ways of trying to avoid the upcoming onslaught of complaints, moans, and groans. Of course, all of these are futile, the gods have already decided your fate. These three options are as follows:
1) You could turn the other way, choosing the root of indifference, testing your luck to see if maybe the customer wasn't conciously setting the trap for you. Of course, if this fails, you are far off worse then you would have been with the other two options, because then you look like a selfish, inconsiderate employee who is not concerned with customer satisfaction.
2) You can try to change the topic by bringing up the weather, something related to the type of job you are doing, like a sale or the quality of a product, or by asking them about themselves, such as, "Ooooh, I like your shirt, where'd you get it?" This route always fails because these customers train for years to gain the ability to link absolutely any topic that is being discussed back to the reason that they were originally disgruntled. Also, you can try to start bitching to them before they can bitch to you. This won't work either, however, because these disgruntled customers will only have more ammunition to bitch about after you're done, and you won't be able to complain forever.
3) You can just accept your fate and ask, "Why, what's wrong?" While this plan of action has no chance of getting you out of the situation like the others do, you will sustain minimal damage and come out looking considerate.
Of course, you could choose the route of faking a heart attack, cursing them off, quitting on the spot, or reaching over and yanking the large antler out of their ass, but these would all end in you being suddenly terminated from your position of employment. And knowing how much YOU LOVE YOUR JOB, that would be a sin...
Me: "Hi, how are you today sir?"
Customer: "Oh, you don't want to know (chuckle), trust me, you don't want to know"
Me: Thinking: 'Oh sweet mother of God, I just unlocked Jaba-Jaba, the evil god of fault-findingb from his deep sleep. Just play it cool, Lee, cool... He'll just smell your fear if you don't'... (Laugh out loud) Yeah, well I can't imagine how anyone could be having a good day with such nasty weather outside!" Thinking: 'Smooth Lee, nice move, your invincible now...'
Customer: "What the hell are you talking about? It's 87 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!"
Me: Thinking: 'Uh oh, he's right! Cover up! Cover up!'... "(Laugh out loud again) Well not for us, but if you're an illusive African Sea Giraffe hen you're having a bad day, they hate warm weather! (Chuckle)"
Customer: "What? What the hell are you talking about? Are you trying to stall my bitching?" (Suddenly his voice deepens, the lights dim, and the ground starts to shake) "Feeble mortal, how dare you think that you could avoid your FATE! Now listen well, and ye shall be forsaken, but beware or I shall smite thee with my iron fist also known as tattling to your manager. Now listen to me bitch!"
So maybe work isn't as great as everyone thinks it should be, and maybe you
have to deal with annoying customers, and maybe you want to commit Japanese
ritual suicide at the end of every shift. It's OK, because now you're off
from work. You just clocked out, punched out, did whatever you need to do
to make the blessed statement, "I'm just not working for you bastards
right now". To you, it's perfectly clear that you don't have to work
anymore. But obviously, to everyone else in the world, you're still a prime
target, fresh meat, the bullseye. You're about to be reminded that these
annoyances don't just happen in the workplace, they happen at home too.
With your own family. So welcome home.
Copyright RLA 1999, All rights reserved.