Three Little Words I'm Longing To Hear

Krispy Kreme doughnuts being made at the Krisp...
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We’re in a recession, the worst in 70 years. Millions of people can’t get a job. Can’t even get a job interview.

So here’s my thought for the day: if you have a job right now, do it well. If you loathe that job so much you do it really badly, your boss should fire your ass today and put someone in it who wants and will do it both well and cheerfully. There is something fundamentally obscene — like scarfing doughnuts in front of someone who is starving — if you actually have paid employment and treat it, and the people relying upon you to do it well, like crap.

Three times this week I was blown off, dismissed and dissed by people who work in customer service jobs. How exactly do these people get and keep their jobs? A few weeks ago, a clerk at the grocery store gave me such attitude I called for the manager, who, as he was telling the clerk to behave got even more attiude from him. How does that work? The manager literally chased me into the parking lot, apologizing. I told him I’ll never be back. Why would I?

Here’s the deal: I am the customer, and I expect service. And here’s why I’m becoming the customer-from-hell.

I’ve been working a retail job at a mall one night a week (or more) for two years. I almost always (unless you are an insanely rude person and then I’ll find a fellow associate with more patience, about .0002% of the time) give unbelievable service and, as a result, I sell a ton of merch. People are quite often stunned with gratitude that I am: nice, friendly, competent, helpful. I know where stuff is and what it’s made of and why it’s the right choice — or not — for their needs. I smile, I say thanks, I apologize when something goes wrong or we don’t have it in stock. And I am paid badly and get no commission.(It’s cash, it’s easy and it’s regular. All good things.)

Because it’s my job.

So, the next time the machines aren’t working, or you don’t have the product(s) I want or the copy you’re handing me for an important letter is so dark and scratchy as to be illegible, here’s what I need to hear:

“I’m so sorry!”

That’s all. You don’t really have to mean it, although how great would that be if you did actually care? When someone is trying to buy a product or service, they are often short of: time/money/patience/amusement in their day  — or anyone who cares what happens next in that interaction. Should you work in any form of customer service, do us all favor, give a damn and acknowledge that we, the customer, have feelings. If you’re their manager, do your job and make sure they are performing well.

If you have a job — even if it’s a crappy low-level survival job you really didn’t plan to be doing at this point in your life — do us all a favor. Suck it up and do it well. If not, move over and let one of the unemployed 10 percent do it for you.

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