I am Mike’s lack of empathy for arrogant consumers.

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

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I have been working in customer service oriented jobs for most of my adult life and have recently become aware of a shocking trend:  Americans are becoming self-righteous monster concerned only with themselves, and their delusional sense of entitlement.

One of my job requirements is to contact clients to remind them of upcoming payments due, and I must also cotact customers when they are at risk of running late (generally on their due date an hour or so prior to day’s end.)  Recently, I had a particularly maddening experience with a client and her husband.  I will refer to them as Jack and Jill.

Three weeks ago I needed to contact Jill to remind her of an upcoming payment.  I used her primary contact number (cell phone), and was surprised to hear a man’s voice; it was Jack.

“Hello!”  he was noticeably irritated.

“Hi.  Could I speak with Jill please?”

“Who are you?”  his irritation was rising.  I could hear it in his tone.

“My name is Mike.  Could I speak with Jill please?”

“You fucking people- who are you with?!”  *gulp*

I replied with the name of my company and no more than I had completed the sentence, Jack snapped back, “You fucking people!  We are always on time, we work strange hours, and you woke up my kids- I’ll tell her.  Quit calling us!”

Before I had a chance to apologize, and explain, Jack mumbled, “Fuck you.” and hung up the phone.

I was flabbergasted, and quite frustrated.  First, it was 4:30 in the afternoon; normal waking hours for a majority of the world.  How does Jack expect me to know his, or his children’s for that matter, sleeping habits?  Second, federal law does not allow me to change any personal information without a request from the account holder.  I need Jill’s approval, no matter how pissed Jack is.

Jill came in on time, and did not bother explaining her husband’s behavior.  It was her cell phone he answered, he told me she was right there, yet no explanation.  She did ask that I discontinue her courtesy calls, and I shrugged Jack’s behavior off as him “having a bad day,” forgiven, and forgotten.

Two weeks pass and Jill is once again due (no reminder this time), problem was, we were 30 minutes from day’s end; still no Jill.  I dialed her primary contact number once again, per my job requirements, and Jack answers:


I cannot help but think:  Here we go again, and I reply,

“Hi Jack, is Jill there?”

“Yeah, who’s this?”

“Mike again, just wondering if Jill would be making it in today?”

“You fucking people…” *click*, he had hung up on me again.

I inform my superior of Jack’s on-going behavior, and she takes it upon herself to try Jill’s secondary contact number in an effort to speak to her, not Jack.  Once again Jack answers and the same results:  Cursing, disrespect, hung up on.  Jill ended up paying 3 days later, and upon receiving her payment, we exercised our right to refuse service to anyone.  Jill, upon hearing the news, was appalled.

“How could you do this? To Me!  I didn’t do anything!”

My boss calmly replied, “Well, Jill, due to Jack’s vulgar and disrespectful actions each time we contact your cell phone, we are forced to refuse you service.  I will not subject my managers to this sort of behavior.  I am sorry, but you must take your business elsewhere.”

As Jill turned and walked out of the office she promised repurcutions.  How ridiculous!?  The nerve of some people to demand respect without giving it.

I wish this type of story wasn’t as common as it is.  The old saying:  “The customer is always right”  is bullshit.  Customers expect those of us in the service industry to bend over backward for every asanine request, and shoulder any abuses they spit our way.  As Americans we are far too accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it.  I think it is important for anyone who works in customer service to stand up for themselves.  Not for the good of the company, just for self-respect.


He’s Just a Boy (at heart)!


Image by JoonYoung.Kim via Flickr

High-quality animated movies provoke the child inside me, and ignite my imagination.  For whatever reason, I find myself able to connect to animated characters much more than live-action characters.  Dreamworks’ recent film: How to Train Your Dragon is a perfect example.

For those that have not seen the movie yet, it is a fantastic story about a socially outcast adolescent who befriends, and eventually trains, a pet-dragon.  First, excellent premise.  Second, I am not a film critic, and will not pretend to be here, so save your opinions.  I am discussing how it sparked the imaginative child inside me.

After watching the movie I could not help but think how amazing it would be to have a pet dragon; flying through the clouds…  I was a grown man wisked away.  I could not help but share these thoughts with my wife, who simply rolled her eyes and dismissed the conversation, but my mind was reeling.  I pondered the thought for the remainder of the evening.  I cannot remember the last time a live-action film gave me the same feeling of wonder.

New Father Blues

Afraid and Worried, II

I cannot escape the feeling that I need to do more.  My first child is due to arrive in January, and it seems that I should be doing more.

My wife and I have assembled a cadre of baby related items:  Car seats, diapers, and “butt-paste”, tiny clothes, stroller, swing; everything new babies need.  We have all the materials and furniture.  I work and attend college full-time, so the present and future are tended to.  So, what is this nagging, relentless feeling in my stomach that I am not doing enough; what more must I do!?  I tend to my pregnant wife’s needs, do the chores, try my best to keep her happy, comfortable, satisfied.  We are prepared, I know it.  Why this feeling?

My problem has less to do with preparation, and more with my concern for the society my son is being born into.  America is driven by fear, delusion, and consumerism.  I want more for him.  I want him to be curious, but cautious.  I want him to be rational.  I must do my best to help him see beyond the smoke-screen of pop culture, and not accept the “truth” that society is selling.

I am not a parent that believes it is my responsibility to dictate to my son all the answers.  I don’t have them; rather, I want to provide him the tools to seek answers for himself.  I want to impart rationality and free-thought.  My fear is that of any new father:  What if I fail?

Hemingway’s Ghost

Ernest Hemingway's 1923 passport photo

Image via Wikipedia

Last night I left my bed in search of Hemingway’s ghost.  Terra cotta dreams in a murky bar filled with dark-faces, and bourbon red as blood.

In a flash I was in an unfamiliar place; terra cotta building, red clay tile roof, and warm.  Warm enough for the loose-fitting button-down and khaki shorts I adorned, and I was much older, gray hair and beard.  I was in search of something, a book; the title lost in time, but the author beloved.

Smoke filled the air, barely masking the scent of stale beer.  A pale face lit the way to the bar, and I approached confidently.  It was understood:  The table of unshaven, dark-faces knew how to get what I desired, and would require payment before divulging their secret.  I procured a bottle of over-priced bourbon from pale-face, and without hesitation began graciously over-pouring glasses for the dark-faces at whose table I was suddenly sitting.

My attention was locked on the bourbon, pouring un-naturally red into a finger-smeared glass.  The flow was sloppy and seemingly without end.  Dark-faces began to laugh, deep and guttoral as I become acutely aware of a white light encroaching on the bar-haze.

She appeared as a pale glow, naked and luminescent through the smoke filled air, nearly angelic.  Suddenly, I felt ashamed of my haggard face and white beard.  To share the same air with such youthful beauty!  My eyes were fixed upon her smooth, glowing youth when the scene suddenly shifted to a shabby loft, but the beauty remained, and with her, the book!

She silently slept, all youth and beauty, upon the bed.  I sat at a table, old and gray, staring at the book.  The book!  Answer to the question!  Treasure of the quest!  I had found Hemingway’s ghost.