Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Customer service superstar

This morning I was on a mission to complete a project. To do so I needed a hole punch. I called the local 7-11s and Wallgreens to no avail. I tried the office supply places in my neighborhood and found one's phone to be unresponsive and the other's to be disconnected. Then it was my last resort, Home Depot, that offered the last blow.

"We don't [carry a whole punch]," the kind woman answered, "but there's two other hardware places nearby. There's one a block up and one two blocks down."

I thanked her for the advice and dialed the hardware store closer to my apartment, the one a block up.

"Hi, I looking for a paper hole punch," I said. "A single hole punch."

"No, we no have," the man on the other end curtly replied. "Try Home Depot."


I hate being hung up on. By my girlfriends, by my mother it doesn't matter. But to be hung up on by a complete stranger, one that I was trying to give my money to, was a different kind of insult.

I called back.

"Hello?!" the voice answered.

"Yes hi is this the hardware store?"

"You again?! I don't have time for you?"

"Well, next time maybe you should wait until someone is done talking to hang up on them."

"Listen motherfucker, I said no. I don't have time for you motherfucker."


My blood boiled. I called back again.

"Listen motherfucker. I don't have time for your bullshit. Ok motherfucker!"


I could barely catch my breath. My hands shook. I rolled up my sweatpants, put on my sandals, and headed for the hardware store. I wasn't sure what kind of person I was going to encounter. All I knew was that the guy had an accent and surely couldn't be the boss.

When I got about 4 storefronts away Nicholai Bazooka walked out of the hardware store. He stood an easy 6" over me and had a solid 40lbs (all muscle) on me. He carried himself and the packages in his hands like a man who would speak in such a brash manner, and the accent seemed to fit.

I took my glasses off just in case.

I walked into the empty store (Mr. Bazooka loaded then got into a car out front) and looked up and down the isles until I noticed a slight older man in a tucked away office in the back. I was relieved to have not only found the boss but to not have to deal with the monstrous animal I passed on my way in.

"I assume you aren't the one who answers phones around here?" I playfully asked the boss/owner.

"Oh no," the man said, "not you again. You don't have anything better to do?"

It was my friend from the phone.

We started arguing back and forth. I tried my best to "be the better man" but every now and again took the opportunity to throw a shot at him when I could. I told him that it was not "ok" for him to call me a motherfucker and to tell me that he didn't have time for my bullshit.

His retort? "No. I did not call you motherfucker. I told you go fuck yourself."

I was amused and told him I wanted an apology. When he patronizingly gave me one (like a child who feels he's done no wrong gives to the kid down the street that he kicked in the shins once parents are involved) I told him that his mocking apology was not sufficient and that now I wanted one in writing.

First he argued with me, then he insulted me, then he went about working and ignoring me, then back to yelling at me with scattered insults thrown in.

At one point of his silent treatment I confessed my superhuman strength to him.

"... The good news is that today is my day off, and I don't have anything better to do then to sit here and bother you. In fact, keep on ignoring me because I actually love the sound of my own voice. And I'm persistent, stubborn. I can carry this conversation on with myself all day."

I presented him with two options, thinking that the possibility of him just physically having me thrown out best be not mentioned.

"Either you can call the cops, cause a scene, and have them show up. I'll leave when they ask me to, but I'll spend every ounce of energy I have writing to every newspaper I can. I'll picket out front. That's public property. I'll do everything I can. Or you can simply write an apology to me for calling me a motherfucker and telling me that you don't have time for my bullshit. So easy and I could be gone."

He called the cops.

Long story short upon leaving I pondered what to do. I was still enraged that I had been treated in such a way but felt like Jim Carrey's character from Liar Liar. "You know what I am going to do about this? ... Nothing! Because if I take it to small claims court, it will just drain 8 hours out of my life and you probably won't show up and even if I got the judgment you'd just stiff me anyway; so what I am going to do is piss and moan like an impotent jerk, and then bend over and take it up the tailpipe!"

I could write the papers, I could picket and file BBB claims and blah-blah-blah but for what? To get the guy reprimanded? Fired? To shut down the business? How does any of that change my life? Does it take back the insult? No. Does it earn me some sort of reward? No.

Now I know there's the argument that that's not right, that I shouldn't take such abuse. But at the end of the day it would just be time wasted on a cause that doesn't benefit me or anybody else. In fact, it would only end up having a negative impact (on the owner, the rude guy, other employees, etc...).

Instead of doing anything I dropped it. It sucked to be cursed at, especially since I honestly did nothing to warrant it. But the real shame would be if I let it impact any more of my day, life. 

So I went on about my day, and had a pretty good one too. I got a good story to tell, got motivated to get up and out at the day early, and ended up finding that hole punch at the hardware store 2 blocks south of Home Depot. Life is good.

"I do not mind what happens." -J Krishnamurti

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