Welcome to my Anger Management Posts! It’s that time of year, isn’t it? That time of year when if you work retail, you have dark thoughts towards the ignorant, rude customers you have to deal with. Ladies and gentlemen of the customer service community, fear not. You are not alone!
While I may no longer work in that industry, I’ve been there. I’ve heard the stupid ass questions, been called a bitch for doing my job, had co-workers with annoying crushes on me, had co-workers who hated me for no reason and had both lazy bosses, and condescending ones. I can only hope that these posts titled “Anger Management” will bring some comfort to your shitty workplace.
I truly have no idea how readers will respond to this. You might hate it. Perhaps you’ll laugh? Find some relief in knowing that you’re not the only one who sees people for what they really are (or can be). You are not a second hand citizen even though some may treat you that way. Thus begins my anger management series! At a later date, I will compile all of these posts into a memoir for physical purchase. For now, please enjoy these posts and if you’d like to receive notifications when new ones are published, please subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the top right hand corner of this page!
Confessions of a Customer Service Employee Part 1: Introduction
I keep a cardboard box on my floor near my desk. Inside are a bunch of manila envelopes that hold old drafts of stories and novels. I sat down and pulled one out labeled “Memoir Notes” with a green permanent marker. Also on the front of the folder I left myself a little note. CAUTION: Open at own risk. May cause anger. Proceed with care.
As you read this work, please keep in mind that even though a majority of these incidents are angering in nature, this work is not meant to anger you. Rather, it is a reflection on the ignorance, arrogance and selfishness of the general public.
People are rude, stupid and self-centered. If anyone dares to tell you differently, they themselves are ignorant. Please keep in mind, a great man once said, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” This work is not meant to anger you but instead educate and perhaps even make you laugh at all the stupidity in the world even though it’s really no laughing matter.
In sharp contrast, as I’m writing these very words, I’m angry – angry because of the very things you are about to read are all experiences that are relatively fresh in my mind.
I was sitting in my car when I wrote those three paragraphs; sitting in the parking lot waiting for work to start outside of the job I absolutely hated. We’ve all been there before. It’s 5 min. until shift starts and you sit in your car, looking up at the building, dreading going in because you know that when you walk through the doors you will no doubt be yelled at for something you didn’t do, be made to fix someone else’s stupid mistake, or be blamed for something that wasn’t even your responsibility in the first place.
Welcome to customer service.
Chapter 1 (The Shortened Version)
The fact that I had graduated high school had not hit me yet. Whether you are a senior in high school or senior in college, either way, you still feel like you’re the shit. It is only until you get older that you realize how young and stupid you were. After graduation, my days were wasted with shopping trips and binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Keep in mind that this was the age before Netflix and smartphones- so I was watching the DVDs.
I was wasting away with no sense of purpose or self-identity. I didn’t know much about myself at the age of 17 (who does?) Having been to a private school, I didn’t even have a sense of style or fashion. I felt lost in a world of unspoken possibilities. I wanted so much but did not know how to go about attaining any of it. Six months away from being a legal adult, I was still living with my parents, still under the shelter of the rock my controlling mother kept me under. To her, the world consisted of our city. To her, the world was a dangerous place filled with bad people. She always chose to focus on the negative and I became a product of my environment.
It’s important to keep in mind that the definition of ‘family’ is changing among today’s society and for that I’m glad. I feel so distant and disconnected from those who are my blood relatives. I have nothing in common with them and find them to be boring and close-minded. My family is now composed of people I chose, people I connect with. But I digress…
It was a Thursday in late spring of 2004. As part of my religion class senior year of high school, we had to serve the community twice a week. That year I chose to do community service at the local library on Main Street. On the short drive home there was an old stone building. It was an old mini-golf and arcade game venue that had gone out of business but recently opened up under new management. One of my brothers had worked there back in the 90s, when I was little.
My brother knew that with my upcoming graduation, I would need to get a job soon. He told me they were probably hiring since they had just opened on March 8 of that year. So that Thursday I decided to stop by on my way home and request an application. At this point time, I had the horrible habit of introducing myself as “so-and-so’s sister” instead of using my own identity.
I walked up the inclined ramp and through the two sets of double doors into the game room. The floor was made of dark tile and the walls had dark paneling on the bottom half and a hideous coral wallpaper on the top. On my right where the bathrooms, the L-shaped concession counter and the office. I received my first paycheck on June 11, 2004 and set up a checking account.
September 1, 2004
…One of the last days that I worked 9 to 5. I was the only one behind the counter the entire day and I’d never had so many impatient, rude customers. Happiness would be the best term to describe my feeling when I clocked out. I was grateful to be granted time off for college orientation. I met a close friend from high school for coffee, had to endure statistics class first semester with a high school classmate who had sexually assaulted me, and I laid my 17-year-old cat to sleep.
Friday, October 1, 2004
The beginning of my college career was full of excitement and wonder. For the first time since Kindergarten, I was in a place where I knew no one. I made friends quickly. I was popular with the male upperclassmen in my department and my classmates were very warm and welcoming. Making new friends had never been easier or more fun.
I was juggling a demanding class and theater schedule along with working part-time. Meeting so many people and being young and single, I was overwhelmed with male prospects and having to deal with unwanted attention and a jealous girlfriend of a co-worker.
Monday, October 4, 2004
Somewhere deep inside my brain is this tiny trigger. It’s part of what makes me tick. But sometimes the smallest thing can pull that trigger a fraction – just far enough for me to EXPLODE.
Things that irritate me to no end:
“Are you open?“
No. You just came in through unlocked doors to see employees working behind the counter, helping guests while all of the arcade games are on. Sorry, we’re not open. One time I did have a lady ask if we were open when we weren’t. I was in the process of getting ready to be open and of course she goes, “Well that’s a stupid question. I guess you’re open if you answered the phone.” For once someone with brain cells calls and of course she’s wrong.
“What can I get with this many tickets?“
Well, let’s see. I told you how many tickets you had. So if you can count I don’t need to answer that question. It’s not that hard folks. Each prize has a clearly displayed number in front of it. This is how much it’s worth. So when you have 20 tickets don’t go pointing to the Hacky sacks or the basketballs, and no you can’t have a skateboard either! Not unless you can prove to me that the numbers 130, 600 or 6000 are below the number 20.
*The ticket weigher*
We have a machine that weighs the redemption tickets for us so that we don’t have to sit there and count every single one if the guest comes up with hundreds. “Does that count them?” Yes sir. It weighs them. “Weighs them?” Is that not what I just said!? I hate repeating myself. “But how does it weigh them? How do you know it’s accurate?” Because I fucking calibrate every morning.
Customers who call an noisy arcade venue and that insist on speaking softly on the phone…use your big boy voice…
People don’t read…
Customers coming up to the doors and not reading the sign that clearly states our hours of operation. One time I went to use the bathroom right before we opened and somehow this lady came in (the outer doors were locked, the inner door unlocked so I could mop…I’m pretty sure she broke the outer door lock). I’m in our one toilet bathroom with the door wide open, sitting on the toilet with my pants down, hoping that she doesn’t come this way. I can hear her at the counter yelling, “Excuse me? Excuse me?” I can’t even piss in peace!!! You know what she wanted? To use the bathroom…was she unaware of the Hardees fast food restaurant right next to us that was open?
People entering through the side gate instead of the front doors.
Recently, I saw a family enter through the side gate. No big deal we just prefer customers to come and go through the actual doors. So what did I do? I went behind them and ensured that it was locked. Guess what? They couldn’t find their way out! What a bunch of dumbasses. That’s why man invented this thing called a door. Because when you enter through the gate, the employees working can’t see you. To us, you just look like another golfer who has finished their fun filled 18 holes.
The side gate is not the main entrance! It’s for maintenance! (And yes, dear readers, there is a sign…it’s also not an easy entrance to find). Another thing is when the doors are locked and the side gate’s lock isn’t fully engaged for employee access, people will take the liberty of undoing the lock, coming through the gates and strolling up to the golf counter. Hint: if the doors are locked, we aren’t fucking open.
Recently I had two fellows do this. I wasn’t too peeved because they were only paying a birthday party deposit, not buying golf. Except one of them said, “Why aren’t you guys open?” Because we don’t open till 12, sir. “But the sign on the front door says you guys open at 10 AM?” That’s on Saturdays, sir. Today is Friday. For once, someone who actually read the hours sign, and he read it incorrectly.
“Is golf open?”
Is the sky blue? No. It’s a bright, sunny day outside. Of course it’s not open. (If you haven’t picked up on it by now, this IS sarcasm).
I hate it when people come up to tell me that a game is not working and they don’t have the title of the game. Which one? “The one where you shoot the ball.” Okay, you’ve just described every game back there. “The one where you put the token in and then it spins around.” Thanks that’s a lot of help but I need to know which game it is, so I can grab the right key and so I know what I’m dealing with.
“Do we keep the golf balls?”
No, you idiot. They go down 18th hole just like the rest. This is not a golf ball shop. If we gave them away for free, we would be losing money. We can’t afford to turn around order new golf balls every single day. No, we don’t sell them to you either. No, we don’t have standard size golf balls this is NOT pro-golf. It’s mini-golf. “Do you have any white golf balls?” Do you see any white golf balls? No. Pick a fun color instead.
“Pinball took my tokens!”
No, it didn’t. You just don’t know how to work a pinball machine. That being the case, you should not be allowed in an arcade.
I hate when I go back to fix a machine and I’m deep into my trance, hard at work, and someone comes up and tells me of 10 other problems with various games. Do I not fucking look busy to you? And I have to hope that the fix doesn’t require opening a machine up because people love to crowd me and watch me work from over my shoulder. Sometimes it takes a little longer than 5 seconds to undo the problem they have created. Why can’t the go play something else for 5 minutes? Is that too much to ask? I’ll tell you when it’s fixed.
Or when I’m helping someone at the redemption counter and someone else comes up to me for tokens, completely cutting off the customer I’m helping. Do I have a register near me? Do I not look busy helping someone else? You’re not the Queen of England. You can be patient, like everyone else.
We have this very nice service where we will refund your tokens for free if the game malfunctioned. Granted, a lot of our games were purchased used or were very old so they did mess up on occasion. But I really can’t help you A) don’t know how to work the game (like our unfortunate pinball players earlier) or B) the game is unplugged!
The other day a group of kids must’ve gotten, and I’m quoting a co-worker here, “$20 worth of refund tokens!” We currently have two air hockey tables in the game room. One is quite obviously unplugged and squeezed in between San Fran Rush 2049 and the wall. It’s near impossible to get in a position to play. Yet these idiots put tokens in it! Unplugged = not working.
One thing that does make me laugh is when little children are running around on the golf course and they fall. I know it’s mean. But I have to struggle to hold the laughter. After all, this is customer service and we have to find something to entertain ourselves.
I stayed at this venue for another two years until I moved on to another customer service adventure. Please stay tuned for another round of mini-golf/arcade venue customer service stories.
To be continued…
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Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.