Unsung Heroes

When it comes to professions, First Responders and the military are usually the first to get praised. It makes sense. They put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe and, in doing so, they’re forced to see the worst of humanity. I, for one, try to thank them when I can for the sacrifices that they make on our behalf.

The people that I’m thinking of don’t quite go through that, but they do have to look upon a very ugly side of humanity every day…. customer service workers.

I worked at Walmart for 11 years. In that time, I was verbally abused hundreds of times (almost always for something that I had absolutely no control over) and was forced to see things that have scarred me for life. I’m trying to think of the stupidest thing that I got yelled at for, but there’s too many to choose from. So, I’ll pick the first one that comes to mind.

I was once cussed out by a woman because I declined a tip from her. I politely explained that accepting tips was against company policy, and, since my manager was standing within sight, I couldn’t take it. She flew off the handle, cussing up a storm and telling everyone within earshot that I was horrible at my job (despite the fact that only moments ago I had done so well that she wanted to give me a gratuity). As much as I wanted to say it, I stopped myself from snapping, “I’m sorry for not taking your tip, lady, but your $3 isn’t worth me losing my fucking job!” The manager heard the commotion, came to investigate and told the lady that I was right to refuse her. She then started cussing him out and he had security escort her out of the building.

And that’s just one example… From me…. I’m sure everyone who works in customer service has at least one story just like it.

I am thankful that I don’t have to go through that on a daily basis anymore. I’m not sure I could put up with the general public for 40 hours a week now.

I still see it, though.

Any time I go into a store, there’s a chance that I’ll see some poor customer service workers get abused by asshole shoppers for things that are not their fault. Like the experience I had yesterday, for example.

A woman in front of me at the grocery store was trying to pay for her items, but the card reader wasn’t liking the chip in her credit card. So, what does she do? She starts getting really shitty with the cashier. After the third time it couldn’t read the chip, the reader went to its backup, the magnetic strip on the back of the card. This only further angered and confused the woman. “This stupid machine says to swipe my card. What does that mean?”

….

“It means to swipe your card, you dumb bitch.”

Ok, nobody actually said that. But, I wanted to. If I wasn’t so sure that the crazy woman was going to attack me if I did say it, I probably would have. Instead, I just laughed at her stupidity. She either didn’t hear me laughing or didn’t think I was laughing at her because she paid me no attention. Then again, she was still awfully busy being rude to the cashier, who has no control over the card readers or the chip in that lady’s credit card.

When it was finally my turn to pay, and the woman had walked away, I congratulated the cashier for being polite throughout the whole episode. The cashier was a young woman, either still in high school or a recent graduate (I’d say somewhere between 17-19). I don’t know how she has the patience to put up with that at her age. If someone did that to me when I was that age, I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep my mouth shut.

Now that I’m older, I’ve found that a lot of the people who throw these tantrums actually want to make the cashiers/store employees snap back at them. It gives their arguments more credence when they try to get free stuff out of the store’s management team. So, towards the end of my tenure at Walmart, whenever I got an extremely rude or obnoxious customer, I made sure to always be as polite as I could possibly be. Not because I needed to keep my job (although that factored in a little), but because being nice to them always seemed to make them even more angry.

So, please, the next time you’re at the store, make sure you are kind to the people working there… unless of course they’re rude to you first. In that case, to hell with them.

Cultural Differences

The woman who works in the office at work is Japanese (as in actually born and raised in Japan). I’ve posted a couple of stories, years ago, about a few times when she had a little trouble with our language or ways of doing things, such as this example. After things are explained to her, she usually questions why things are done, or said, that way.

I rarely have the answer.

Yesterday, however, the tables were turned and I was the one left wondering why she said something that she did.

I have been congested and coughing for almost a week now. Well, yesterday I was in the tech room and I felt a sneeze coming. There were no tissues in the tech room, so I tried to hold it in. I was only partially successful. A little bit of snot came out. I looked around, found a paper towel, and wiped my nose.

It was bleeding.

I held the paper towel in place and walked to the office to get a tissue because the paper towel was rough and hurting my nose. She asked what happened. I told her. Then she said, “It’s probably from all that porn you watch.”

Ummm…. what?

First of all, I don’t watch porn. Not anymore, anyway. Although, even when I was younger I only watched a couple. It’s not that I have anything against porn, it’s just that I don’t care about any sex that doesn’t involve me.

Second, even if I did watch porn, I sure wouldn’t do it at work. Having my coworkers around would be a pretty big mood killer.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, why would watching porn give me a nose bleed? How would watching porn give me a nose bleed? What connected the two things? Did I even want to know the answer to these questions?

Probably not.

So, I just let it drop and walked away. When I got back to the tech room, one of the techs, who saw me walk out holding the paper towel to my nose, asked me what happened. I told him. Then I mentioned the comment made by the woman in the office.

“Yeah, that’s a thing in Japan apparently,” he told me. “In just about every anime that I’ve watched, any time a man sees a woman naked, their nose starts gushing blood.”

Again… why? I would think that if watching porn was going to make a man start gushing fluids, it wouldn’t be blood and it wouldn’t be coming from his nose. Unless, of course, the bloody nose is supposed to be a metaphor for that.

I suppose the easiest way to get the answers to these questions is to ask the woman in the office about it. I won’t be doing that, however. I realize that she’s the one who brought it up, but, depending on the answer, it might make for an uncomfortable conversation for me to be having with someone who is technically my boss.

I think I’ll leave well enough alone for now and hope someone reading this will tell me in the comments.

Following Orders

On Friday, I was sent an email by the head man of the company my company contracts with. He told me that he wanted me to send a particular radio to their offices in Mexico. Getting emails asking me to ship stuff is nothing new or out of the ordinary. What was out of the ordinary was that the package was going to Mexico.

Let me explain why that’s out of the ordinary.

About 2 years ago, I shipped something to Mexico that got held up in customs for reasons that were not really explained to me. Because of this outrageous offense, we were told that we weren’t allowed to ship to Mexico anymore. That was fine with me. Less work that I have to do.

So, when that email came in on Friday, I found it a little odd. I was actually going to question it until one of my managers, who was CC’d in on the email, responded to it. Now, any package being shipped internationally requires specific paperwork in order to get through customs. I’m not allowed to fill this paperwork out because I’m not a manager. She is. And her email response contained an attachment with the customs paperwork.

Since both of them seemed ok with the shipment, I went ahead and did it.

Apparently, that was wrong…

The package once again got held up in customs. I got a new email from Mr. Head Man today asking for a copy of the shipping label on the box so he could try to identify the problem. Because it shipped out already on a different day, it wouldn’t let me reprint the label, so I sent him a report that the software did let me print. My team lead, who wasn’t included in the original thread but was on this one, voiced my original concerns and said that he thought we weren’t allowed to ship to Mexico. Mr. Head Man responded with, “Well, then why did you ship it?”

As Cloud would say, “….”

At this point, I was doing my best to keep my inner Samuel L. Jackson from escaping. It was extremely tempting to go to his office and yell, “Because you told me to, MOTHERFUCKER!” I need my job, however, so I stopped myself.

My team lead, to his credit, replied with my response, minus that last word of course.

Now, instead of admitting that he played some part in what happened, Mr. Head Man told us that we needed to put measures in place to prevent something like this from happening again.

Yes, you read that correctly. He said that we needed to put measures in place to prevent something like this from happening again. The tool conveniently forgot that the only reason I did it in the first place was because HE TOLD ME TO!!!!!

I have no problem getting bitched at when I’m the one who screws up. So, for example, if I had sent that package to Australia instead of Mexico, go ahead and chew me out the whole day.

But don’t come bitching at me because you screwed up.

Filter Adjustment

During the summer months, because it gets so hot in the warehouse, I’m allowed to wear shorts. However, if I have to go into the tech room for some reason, I’m not allowed to wear shorts. You have to wear pants in there. So, I keep a pair of pants in my locker at work.

Normally, this would be an unimportant detail. Yesterday, though, it proved very important….I ripped my pants.

They were older jeans, that I really only wore to work, and the seam in the crotch ripped apart. I groaned, thinking I had to go the rest of the day with ripped pants. That’s when I remembered I had that pair in my locker. I immediately walked towards the locker room.

On my way there, I ran into the woman who works in the office. You may remember her from this story. She stopped me and asked me about a radio we were having trouble finding. After I told her that I found it, she looked down and saw my pants.

“You have a big hole in your crotch,” she said.

Before my brain could stop my mouth, I responded with, “Yeah? Well, so do you.”

Oops. I should’ve done a facepalm on myself, but, instead, I watched as her face crinkled up in confusion. She looked down at her pants and replied, “No, I don’t.”

Thankfully, she missed what I actually meant and thought I was talking about her clothes. I ended up playing it off as a “I made you look” joke, not the “you have a giant cooter” joke that it actually was, and got out of there as quickly as I could.

I’ve been making jokes like that (and smartass comments….and sarcastic remarks…) for as long as I can remember. I learned a long time ago (after getting myself into trouble a large number of times) that I need to check myself before speaking.

Apparently, I need to continue to work on it…..

A Stupid Question

Despite what your teachers told you when you were younger, there is, in fact, such a thing as a stupid question. Most, if not all, of us hear at least one of them a day. Unfortunately, they are something that we have to deal with, no matter how much we might wish otherwise.

If you don’t believe me, go and listen to one of Bill Engvall’s Here’s Your Sign bits. Sure, some of those might be made up for comedic effect, but, something tells me, most of them aren’t.

Need further proof? Here’s one that’s happened to me. The question is so stupid, I was surprised I got it once. Imagine my surprise when I got it a second time.

Some of you might remember my Newb stories. I could tell you who he is, but I think I’d rather just put a link in here and make you go read my older posts (I’m an evil genius! MWAHAHAHA!). By the time Baby E was six months old, it had been close to a year since I had last seen Newb. One day, while out grocery shopping with my family, we ran into him. After saying our hellos, he proceeded with the stupidity.

“Is that your baby,” he asked, pointing at Baby E.

I was very tempted to say something Bill Engvall-like at this point. “Nope. We figured we’d go ahead and get her since she’s on sale this week. Here’s your sign.”

Instead, I simply told him yes, while Mrs. Revis was giving me a, “Is this guy actually serious?” look. I made up an excuse for why we couldn’t talk longer and we got out of there. At the time, I just put the stupid question down to the fact that Newb isn’t very bright and then kind of forgot about it.

Jump ahead to one of my current coworkers. This guy doesn’t have a history of saying stupid things like Newb does. Once again, it happened while we were out grocery shopping. I saw him a little bit further up the aisle, so, while Mrs. Revis was looking at something, I pushed the cart over to him so I could say hello. When I got there, I told Baby E to say hello too, but she just stared at him blankly. That’s when he hit me with the stupidity.

“That your kid?”

I had to hold in my inner Bill Engvall a second time. “Nope. That’s a diaper coupon. They just made it life-size. Here’s your sign.”

Now, if they didn’t know I had a daughter, this wouldn’t be a stupid question. Both of them knew, though. Seriously, who else would it be? Did they think I grabbed a random kid out of someone else’s cart and started walking around with them? Idiots….

Song Stories: The Dance

Earlier this week, I told you one of my fast food adventures. So, for my newest song story, I figured I’d go ahead and tell you another one. This one comes from my time at Arby’s.

I started there about a year after I graduated high school. When I started, I was a closer. That meant I went in at 4 in the afternoon and left whenever we got everything done for the night. If staffed properly, there should be 4 people there every night: a manager, someone on ‘front line’ (running the drive-thru), someone on ‘back line’ (making the sandwiches), and someone in ‘back room’ (doing the dishes and taking care of food prep).

I was almost always in back room. That meant I helped out on back line until the dinner rush was over, then go back and start on the dishes. Once the dining room closed, I had to go out and clean it, gathering up all of the trays as I went so I could wash them, then spend the rest of the night doing dishes. Then, right before I left, I’d have to put the roast beef in the oven so it’d be ready when the morning people got there. There were two perks to being the one doing the back room: One, you rarely had to deal with customers and two, there was a radio in the back that you got to listen to, provided you didn’t turn it up loud enough for the customers out in the dining room to hear it.

One night, the guy on back line was a little tired of my music. Apparently, 3 straight hours of The Offspring isn’t for everyone…..weird, right?

I, being the nice guy that I am, said that he could control the radio for a little while. Out came The Offspring, in went Garth Brooks. I’m not a huge fan of country music. Most of it is not for me. I do, however, like Garth Brooks.

We had listened to almost all of the CD. Just as the last song started playing (The Dance), our manager came back to ask me to do something. She (I’ll call her Mrs. Fudd, because…well, that’s what I used to call her. She talked like Elmer Fudd.) got done telling me what she wanted me to do and got a disgusted look on her face. “Why are we listening to this country crap,” she complained.

Now, had she asked me to change the CD nicely, I would’ve just let it drop. Since she was a huge bitch about it, however, something had to be done. So, I hit the repeat button on the radio…. and that’s where the radio stayed for the rest of the night. We listened to The Dance for 5 hours in a row.

Customer Service Fails: …and a Back Rub

I don’t know if this technically qualifies as a customer service failure, since it was the customer who failed, not the employee. I’m going to tell it to you anyways. It was funny as hell.

During my senior year of high school, I worked a a Burger King down the street from school. I would go in right after school let out and work as long as I could under Kentucky law. Sunday through Thursday, as a minor, I was only allowed to work until a certain time because I had school the next morning. On Friday and Saturday, I was allowed to work later. Because of how late this took place, I’m going to have to say it happened on a Friday or Saturday night.

The location that I worked at had two headsets for the drive-thru. Those two headsets remained up front until around 8 every night, which is when the dinner rush ended. After that, one of the headsets is kept by the person running the drive-thru, while the other is given to the person making the burgers. That way, the person could start making the sandwiches as the order was being taken, thereby, getting the order out faster. On this particular night, I was the one making the sandwiches.

A beep went off in the headset, letting us know that someone was at the menu. My manager, who was running the drive-thru, welcomed them and asked them if they were ready to order. The man in the car, who sounded drunk, said that they needed a minute. After telling him to let her know when they were ready, my manager, and I, listened as the drunk sounding man told his friends how hot he thought my manager’s voice was.

I looked up at my manager, and she was just beaming, a smile from ear-to-ear. The drunk guy got back on a couple of seconds later and said he was ready to order. She told him to go ahead and he started calling out his order. “I’ll take 3 double cheeseburgers, 2 large fries, and 3 large drinks… and a back rub.”

I started laughing. She ignored it, and repeated back his food order. “Is that correct?”

“….and a back rub.”

Once again, she ignored it, told him his total, and instructed him to pull up to the window. I made the sandwiches quickly and ran up to the front. We didn’t have any other customers, so I was able to leave the sandwich station, and I started bagging the food. When we were slow, I used to do that so whoever was running the drive-thru could deal with the customer while I bagged the food. That way, we could get them out quicker. This time, however, it had the added bonus of letting me be there when the guy pulled up to the window.

She opened up the window, and before she could remind him of his total, he got a freaked out look on his face. “Oh God,” he exclaimed. “Nevermind. I don’t want no back rub from you!”

I lost it. I held in the laughter as best as I could and I took off towards the back. I got into the walk-in cooler, shut the door, and I laughed my ass off. Taking a minute to compose myself, I exited the cooler, reminding myself not to say anything, because the manager could fire me if she wanted to. It turns out, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t have said anything to her anyways, as she was still arguing with the drunk man.

For some reason, she was not a fan of being told that she was too ugly to rub his back, so she told him to leave. He was drunk and we weren’t going to serve him. This didn’t sit well with him. He knew his food was ready and he wasn’t leaving without it. It probably would’ve gone on longer, but another manager, who had been counting tills in the office, came out and told the guy that if he didn’t leave, we were calling the cops. Apparently, his double cheeseburgers weren’t worth getting arrested for DUI, because he took off quickly after that.

I was a smartass back then (I know. Hard to believe, right?), and it took all my willpower to not say something to my manager about being so ugly that even beer goggles don’t make her look better. I don’t know how I did it, but I kept my mouth shut.