Monthly Archives: October 2008

Surviving Customer Service 9

Well, this is it. Hope you liked it. But, even after my subjecting you to it, if you’d like a copy of your very own, wander on over to my store to get one.


2-way, 3-way, 4-way, 6-way – Ways you will get fucked.

80/20 Rule – Amount of work you do versus the amount you get paid.

Activity Based Costing – The harder a Customer Service Representative works (activity) the fewer Customer Service Representatives you need (costing).

Assortment – No matter how large, you’ll never have what people want.

Average Inventory on Hand – 40% less than necessary. Except when it’s a sale item. Then it’s 80% less.

Backorder – When you flip off a customer behind their back after they’ve sent you back to the stock room seven times.

Backstock – Items in stock you don’t want a customer to have. Usually saved for extreme situations, see ‘Backorder’.

Bar Code – Symbol used for identification purposes for which bar you’ll be hitting after shift. The Bar Code is necessary so the Manager can be sent to the wrong bar.

Cannibalization – When there are 2 or more customers fighting over 1 Customer Service Representative.

Category Killer – When an item on sale is worn improperly by a Customer Service Representative. Usually on purpose. Example, male Customer Service Representative wearing stiletto heels and a hockey mask.

Cherry Picker – Consumer who runs from store to store for the best price. The only defense is for both stores to call one another and keep lowering the price until the ‘Cherry Picker’ is in a frenzy but still has to make one last trip to the other store. Once at the other store, the Customer Service Representative will say they cannot match that price. The ‘Cherry Picker’ will go back for the deal only to be told the Customer Service Representative they had a ‘deal’ with is off or the item is no longer in stock.

Commodity – Necessary evil. AKA: Customer Service Representative. Seen as interchangeable and renewable to management.

Consumer – Carrier of all Customer Service Representative’s hatred.

Continuous Replenishment Programs – Practice of partnering up with other Customer Service Representatives to buy rounds at the bar until closing time.

Corporate – Nameless, faceless drones desperate to suck every last ounce of a Customer Service Representatives usefulness. Also responsible for Customer Service Representatives having to clean the never used back stairs for their once a year 3 minute visit.

Customer Loyalty – Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Yeah, right.

Data Mining – Chatting up a customer for dates. Although that seems against all our teachings but sex in the backroom doesn’t count if you don’t call back.

Decision Support – System from that reveals trends and patterns which will have nothing to do with the real world. The decision was made by a chimp and supported by a slug.

Decision Support Software – Computer game Manager is playing in the office.

Demographic – Characteristics of the teeming masses that ruin your day.

Demographic Clusters – When they all come in at once.

Direct Store Delivery – Process where boxes are dropped off and immediately lost.

Efficient – Producing a desired effect with minimum effort, expense, or waste; working well. One of the most virulent of the Urban Myths.

Efficient Consumer Response – Time it takes Customer to complain (average: 8.3 milliseconds) vs. time it takes Customer Service Representative to react (average: 8.3 seconds) vs. time it takes Manager to get involved (8.3 minutes) vs. amount of time it takes Regional Manager to formulate plan of action (8.3 hours) vs. time it takes Corporate to finalize plan to customers satisfaction (still awaiting Oversight Committee’s decision).

Efficient Assortment – Allowing customers to drop items where every they want.

Efficient Replenishment – Placing boxes in the aisle with the manager standing over them screaming for a Customer Service Representative to open it and place items in an eye-pleasing display on the shelf.

Every Day Low Price – Retail strategy that entails lying to customers to avoid having to run specials.

Every Day Value Price – Differs from every day low price by lying to customers about the perceived ‘value’ of their price gouging.

Execution – Fired.

Facings – Number of expressions a Customer Service Representative can make during one insipid conversation with a customer.

First-In-Rotation – Practice of Customer Service Representatives taking customers in turn. Also known as, “I got the last one. This one is yours.”

Frequent Shopper Program – Systematized program designed to torture Customer Service Representatives due to the fact that any customer who gets such a card sent to them by Corporate feels an overwhelming fealty so demands added attention and supplication by all.

Gross Margin – Profit percent of sales which is always less than the projected outcome for that quarter. Even though this happens all the time, Corporate has never reduced one projected outcome.

Gross Profit – Figure calculated by subtracting the cost of an item from its selling price which, if you think about it, if they raised the price of the item the above failure would never occur. But, that’s silly. The reason the projected outcome is never hit is clearly the fault of the Customer Service Representative.

Gross Sales – Total dollar amount which is never enough to please Corporate which is blamed on poor attitude and sales abilities of Customer Service Representatives.

High-Low Pricing – Customer Service Representative is instructed to tell the customer the price they feel is high is actually lower than the Manufacturers Suggest Retail price (AKA lie).

Home Meal Replacement – Food a Customer Service Representative tries to jam down their throat during their 15 minute break that never seems to be a full 15 minutes because of Management’s constant barging in screaming, “Isn’t your break over YET!”

House Label – Poor quality goods that couldn’t be sold with ‘CrapCo’ label sent back to Corporate who then sent it to a sweat shop and had new labels with their name put on it. Marked-up 60-140% from the ‘CrapCo’ label.

Information Management – Keeping all information away from management.

In-Stock – What customers never seem to be able to see although it’s sitting on the shelf three feet from their corpulent face. Wow, I feel better now.

Internet – Where Customer Service Representative places fake (or are they?) pictures of Manager having sex with various farm animals

Intranet – Where Customer Service Representative places fake (or are they?) pictures of General Manager having sex with various farm animals using hacked account of the stores Manager.

Inventory – Shit that attracts the damn customers.

Inventory Turnover – Good shit Customer Service Representatives hide behind the counter so customers can’t get it.

Just-In-Time Purchasing – Approach to inventory management that never works and causes hours of aggravation for Customer Service Representative.

Kiosk – Freestanding display which is often a last resort of employment for Customer Service Representatives.

Layout – Location in store Customer Service Representative’s hide in plain sight.

Letter of Resignation – Pre-written, undated letter carried at all times to be dated and delivered to Manager five minutes before being fired in order to secure two extra weeks pay.

List Price – False high price placed by the manufacturer to make store look good by not gouging that much.

Loss Leader – Shit placed in the open for thieving little bastards to steal.

Low Involvement Merchandise – Dusty shit that sits there forever.

Ma’am – Bitch.

Manufacturer Brand – Same as ‘House Label’ except, because it’s a bigger corporation, the mark-up is 150% across the board.

Margin – Difference between the cost of an item and its obscene mark-up.

Markdown – Reduction of specially marked-up items to a selling price that is still above the usual selling price yet advertised as a sale.

Market Leader – Store with the biggest turnover of Customer Service Representative due to gung-ho nature of Management and draconian Corporate culture.

Market Research – Study that determines needs of consumers that is hung in the break room and laughed at for it’s inaccuracies of current trends and slang.

Markup – Amount is solely dependant on number of sexual harassment suits pending on Corporate.

Mass Marketing – Having the newest Customer Service Representative dress up in a furry costume and greet the masses.

Merchandising – One of the Customer Service Representative’s most important tasks. Making sure the store is clean, the shelves stocked and eye pleasing until the first customer barges through and tosses the place like the DEA at a meth lab.

One-Stop Shopping – Store with everything that is the perfect place for a Customer Service Representative who knows nothing but likes to run around looking busy.

Operating Expenses – Number Customer Service Representative’s never know but are always blamed for it being too high.

Out-of-Stock – Perfect Customer Service Representative response to an overly annoying customer for whatever item they are looking for. It takes an exceptionally talented Customer Service Representative to pull this off when the item is on the shelf, but it has happened.

Overhead – Place they keep the lights, signs, dust and security cameras.

Overstock – Too much is ordered so the Manager makes the Customer Service Representative stuff the shelves so when a customer tries to get an item every item on the shelf falls.

Plan – Formulated Corporate approach that results in much hilarity to Customer Service Representative’s.

Point-of-Sale – Location Customer Service Representative spends the most time due to the safety of the counter between them and the customer.

Process – Arduous task Customer Service Representative’s go through every horrible day of their lives.

Product – Shit sold in the store.

Promotion – Activity Customer Service Representative will never achieve.

Quick Response – Most abused Corporate policy. Corporate sets a time they find acceptable from the moment a customer enters the store and a Customer Service Representative greets them.

Safety Stock – Urban Myth.

Scanner – Instrument waved over product in all locations except the one that will activate the scan process.

Scanning – Longest increment of time Customer Service Representative is allowed to torture customer.

Seasonal Promotion – Holy Grail of Hate on the Customer Service Representative’s calendar.

Shelf Talkers – Out of all customers to avoid, these are among the top. They talk to socks! If a Customer Service Representative is cornered by one call the next of kin.

Shrinkage – When a Customer Service Representative hides from a potentially annoying situation (i.e. a customer with an arm full of goods and a mouthful of questions).

Sir – Asshole.

Space Management – Procedure used to squeeze as many Customer Service Representative’s into a car as possible on the way to after shift drinks.

Special Order – Item petulant customers will spend an hour explaining, in intricate detail, how it must be ordered only to ignore incessant pick-up calls or, if they do show up, will immediately find a flaw and refuse the item which means, because Special Orders cannot be returned, it will sit on the shelf forever (see Low Involvement Merchandise). Don’t believe the jingles, special orders bug the shit out of us.

Stock – Shit on shelves.

Stock Keeping Unit – Security Officer. Can’t be found whenever there is a problem.

Trade Allowances – Swag provided by manufacturers to provoke Manager to put their item in a good location that the Manager hordes and hides in the office doling out only to favorite Customer Service Representative. Always hidden in locked shelves behind Managers desk.

Universal Product Code – Place to wave Scanner over a minimum of 12 times per item. ‘Customer Service Representative Of The Day’ is whomever’s customer gets so mad their face gets redder than the scanner beam.

Warehouse – Location Customer Service Representatives tell customers the item they’ve been waiting for is stuck.

Warehouse Club Store – Where old Customer Service Representative’s go to die.

Xer – Customer Service Representative who used to work at this location but now only comes by to brag about their new job where they don’t have to deal with customers.

Yawn – Activity most often occurring when a customer approaches a Customer Service Representative.

Zero – Amount all this ‘hands on’ experience will mean on your resume.

Click here to purchase the entire book.

In Stitches

I got hit by a truck!

Well, just a little.

I had to go outside because these gentlemen were misunderstanding the concept of backing a truck up. The concepts they were missing were the facts that 1) we state that you cannot pull any vehicles into the building 2) the truck is physically too large to fit into the building. Neither of these facts seemed to deter these gentlemen.

I’m standing in the loading area explaining to the one person I thought may or may not have been the most likely to understand or be able to explain my issue. As much as I tried, I was failing miserably. I finally figured the only thing I could do was take matters into my own hand.

While pounding on the back of the truck I screamed,

“Pull the fucking truck forward and park it! NOW!”

I don’t know if it was my constant banging or the order but the driver pulled the truck forward and stopped. For a millisecond I figured this was a completed mission. I turned to exit so these gentlemen could begin their work when the driver did something that caused the truck to lurch backwards and slam into my shin.

Oooo, that stung.

I reach down and rub the lump. It amazed me how quickly a piece of steel slamming into a shin can cause a lump. I limp back to the office grumbling. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself. After all, I was standing behind a truck that seemed stopped to me.

I’ve been hit in the shin many times in my life and know the level of pain doesn’t correlate to the damage. A refrigerator fell on my shin once. That hurt. I was backing up a staircase with it when someone decided to help by stepping to the side of it and pushing. That caused it to slip from my hands and drop onto my shin. I’ve heard it takes between sixty and seventy pounds of pressure to break a shin so I’m sure if all my weight wasn’t on that leg it would have gone through it. As it was, it cracked it and it swelled up and filled the bottom of my pants. I still have the indentation.

It’s painful to move and I see a little blood and a small tear on my pants. The blood spots not too big so I figure it’s just a scrape. Things like that happen when steel hits skin, you’d have to assume. I’m running around the building doing other things and the leg continues to throb. After about twenty minutes my boss sees me limping around so asks what’s up. I tell him a truck hit my shin. He looks toward my leg and says,

“There’s a little blood there.”

There was. It was about double the last time I looked.

“Have you looked at it?”

“Not yet. Haven’t stopped moving since it happened.”

“You should check it out.”

I sir down, put my foot on the desk and pull my pant leg up.

“Oh! That’s ugly.” My boss says. I think he was over reacting but it was interesting.

Have you ever seen your own bone through an opening in your skin? I don’t recommend it but it is sort of interesting. I’d move my foot and watch the muscles and other inside stuff move up and down.

“You’ll probably need stitches.” My boss says walking over towards his desk. “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

“Nah, Mike’s here. He’ll give me a ride.”

I get dropped off at the hospital (I didn’t say he’d wait!) and go to the emergency room. The intake nurse takes my information and tells me to take a seat. I look around and see various sick and injured people and think back to the time I cut open my finger on a barbed wire fence. I was sitting there soaking my hand when a nun lead a kid to the seat next to me. She smiled and showed me the scrape on her charges elbow. A fucking scrape! Then she made a mistake. She asked what my boo-boo was. That was probably the sixty-seventh time in my life I thought I was going to hell and I was only ten. When I pulled my ragged, bleeding and gaping tear into my flesh this nun, a kind looking woman, turned marshmallow white as she shielded her students eyes and whisked him from this would-be hell resident.

I get walked into a room with three tables. A doctor is leaning over one stitching up the hand of a big, tough looking guy. It’s why his distressed expression and ashen pallor were remarkable to me. I looked at his hand and it wasn’t that bad. I jump up on the table and the doctor asks where my bang was. I lift up my pant leg, she nods and tells me she’ll be with me in a minute while the guy getting stitched moans and tries his best to look away from me and not at his hand. I think he focused on a jar of cotton balls.

I plop on the gurney and start to greet the guy. He was happy to have any type of distraction. He told me how he cut his hand with a box cutter. I said they can be dangerous. He asks what happened to me and, not really thinking about it, I rolled up my pant leg and said,

“Hit by a truck.”

Have you ever heard all the air leave a persons body and wretch at the same time? Neither had I up until this point. It was an interesting sound though.

The doctor finishes with him and rolls over to me. She twists my leg to get a good look.

“Ripped to the bone, didn’t ya.”


“Yeah, it looks pretty cool though.”


“Let’s get to work.”

She starts in and the guy looks at me amazed.

“You’re going to watch?”

“Yeah, why not? I watched an operation on my hand once. That was pretty weird.”


He rolls over but sees his hand so snaps to his back and stares at the ceiling.

The doctor and I are randomly chatting. She inspects some of my other scars giving her professional critique of other doctors needling abilities. We’re talking about various things she’s stitched to the consternation of my stitchmate. I’m sure he wanted to open his mouth and scream but, if he did, he’d never stop.

That’s unbecoming.

The doctor wraps up her work, I thank her and jump off the gurney. She asks if I want to hang around and rest for a while. I said no, I was fine. She asked how I was leaving. I told her it was a nice day so I was going to walk. It was only a couple of miles back to work.

“You just had your leg stitched!” The guy turns to face me now that my leg was safely panted. “And you’re going back to work? AND walking there?”

“Yeah. It’s nice. I’m going to go by there anyway.”

“I’m not leaving here unless the company sends a cab and I’m taking the rest of the week off. I know I’m not going to be able move my hand, isn’t that right, doc?”

The doctor nods while writing something.

“I’ll give you both notes to take the rest of the week off if you want.”

I pass her, shake her hand on my way out and say,

“Give him mine. I’m sure he be able to put it to use.”

She laughs as I exit.

“I still think you’re nuts.” The guy calls still reclined.

“I know you’re not going to be surprised but that’s not the first time I’ve heard that.” I call over my shoulder while I limp past a guy with a large head wound. I smile at the guy half wanting to go back to hear the guy’s reaction to that mess!

I’m sure the doctor would let me assist.


Do you find your mind racing? Do you find yourself starting one conversation but ending another? Have you ever felt brain locked? Do you think your thoughts are driving you crazy?


There’s nothing wrong with you! You’re perfectly normal! You’ve just had a big heaping helping of Brain Spam!


Surviving Customer Service 8

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.


Although I have enough personal stories from the customer service trenches to fill a book (two actually. They go by the names, If Life’s An Experiment, I’m A Lab Rat and Catless Tails) I figured, by now, you’re tired of listening to me.

So here are true stories from the aisles and stockrooms of the world.

I’m in the store with the manager and a woman with a carriage was banging on the glass. She’s screaming that she left her baby in the store. He opens the door and the three of us run around the building looking for the baby.
About five minutes into it we haven’t found her so the manager is about to call the police when a guy starts banging on the door. It’s her husband with the baby.

We’re all relieved, of course, but as the manager was unlocking the door to let her out he noticed something in the carriage.

She’d put on this elaborate scene to steal a boom box.

A customer’s pants fell down in front of me. He let them linger while asking,

“See anything you like?

A husband and wife come into the restaurant and, eight seconds into their stay, she huffily exclaims,

“So, am I just supposed to seat myself?”

I inhale a deep, calming breath, put on my best smile and say,

“Oh I’d be happy to seat you, do you prefer a booth or a table? We have a wait on booths right now but I can seat you at a table immediately.”

The husband dryly responds,

“Booth. Now.”

“I’ll see if anything’s opened up.”

I go to my manager and talk over the situation. The only booth available is one that seats ten in the closed dining room. I go back and explain there may be a slight wait for a more desirable table and she goes directly into grumpy (I’m guessing Hypoglycemic much?),

“I don’t see why on earth I can’t have the large table, regardless of the room being closed.”

I put on my Adult Britches™, take off my sarcastic ‘tude and reply,

“Absolutely, ma’am, please, follow me.”

I settle them into the table and laugh out loud because, the truth is, the room is closed because there are eight children under the age of six in there running around screaming.

But hey, the customer is always right.
Aimee Dragonfly

I was stocking a shelf and turned to see a guy waving his arms like he was juggling. I didn’t think much of it until he hit the ground and started crawling.

I look and see what he’s chasing and think,

‘Is that a glass eye?’

The guy catches up to it and it was.

I was working as a credit counselor and a soldier who’d been in Afghanistan and was getting deployed to Iraq called. He said he’d been dropped by a creditor without reason. His debt was now $3000 higher than before he’d joined our program. I called the company and was told his payments had been late. I agreed and told her it was because the Army was late sending his checks to his wife.

“Were you aware he was in Afghanistan?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “But I thought he was on vacation.”

“Yes, people are dying to go there for the mountains and terrorist sightings.” She said,

“Well, you never know.”

A kid was rolling around on the floor bitching that he had to go to the bathroom. His mother ignored him even after he pissed on the floor. He was sitting in it splashing while he mother kept on shopping.

I was stocking shelves at a grocery store when a woman rushed up and told me she’d never buy our brand because our company tested products on animals. I told the woman that we were part of a large corporation and, although that may be true somewhere in the company, our tiny little division didn’t.

I gave her an 800 number to corporate so she could voice her displeasure to the proper people when she started screaming that I was a bunny killer. I’m watching this woman go nuts and I couldn’t help but to start laughing.

“Ma’am,” I said. “I’ve never so much as placed a cup of coffee near an animal and, personally, I think you should back off on your java intake.”

She was so upset she took the corporate number from me and called them. To complain about me!

While moving out a divorcing couple they got into an argument about a TV so the husband took it to the porch and threw it off. It hit her car right on the hood.
She seemed to take it well as she walked into the house, found some big metal thing and threw it on his car.

I drive a bus and a woman slapped me across the face while I was driving because she said she knew I was thinking racist thoughts.

My father was a ticket agent at a train station for 21 years and he told the story of the time a blustery fellow dashed up to the window, furiously waving the ticket he had grasped in his hand.

“What’s the platform for Chicago? I’ve gotta catch that train NOW!” He yelled.

That information would have been on the ticket, but the ticket was in constant motion, and my father knew the answer anyway.

“Chicago? Platform 6,” he said

The loud, blustery fellow dashed off. Ten minutes later he was back, demanding to speak to my father’s supervisor. My father had misinformed him and caused him to miss his train, he loudly declared. The platform for Des Moines was NOT platform 6.

“But,” my father said, “You didn’t ask for the platform for Des Moines! You asked for the platform for Chicago!”

“I SHOWED YOU MY TICKET!” The increasingly irate fellow bellowed.

“You WAVED it at me! How did you expect me to read it, with you waving it around like that?!” my father replied.

Naturally, his supervisor reprimand him severely, for the customer’s benefit. He should have read the ticket!

I was picking up a college roommate from the Outer Banks, North Carolina, where she was staying. It was a very pleasant trip until we stopped in a diner in the DC area on the way home for lunch.

There was an elderly couple in a booth near us. The woman was very quiet but her husband was amazingly demanding. Hotter coffee. More butter. Rounder pancakes. The jelly is the wrong color.

The diner was very busy and the waitress for our section, a very young, courteous girl, was bustling as fast as she could, but this man wanted his own private service.

Finally, he asked for the check. As two young working girls ourselves, we’d been taking this in and were both glad he’d be gone, as I’m sure the waitress would be. But she’d made a mistake tallying up his check — she’d overcharged him ten cents. ONE DIME. He demanded to see the manager at once. That manager publicly upbraided her for her colossal mistake and implicit rudeness.

Before we left, we stopped in the ladies room. That poor girl was in there, sobbing like you wouldn’t believe. My roommate gave the girl a big hug and told her it was clear from the get-go that the old buzzard was going to use any excuse to get out of tipping her, despite keeping her running for 45 minutes; she’d seen that type before.

Although I have many stories they all end pretty much the same: my losing my shit in the stockroom. So instead I’d like to give a warning.

No matter what career you choose, do no sell shoes. You will become nothing more than a bitter, angry, woman-hating asshole.

If you’re wondering why I’ve been doing it for twenty-five years and haven’t left, it’s too late. I own the company.

No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make this lady happy. I must have showed her every dress in the place and she kept complaining.

I’m standing there with an arm full of dresses when she says,

“I’d like to talk to your manager. You’ve made this experience wholly unsatisfying.”

I lost it. I threw the dresses at her and said,

“And you’ve been a holy fucking bitch. I’ll send the manager over so he can see why I deserve a raise.”

A guy came in to the restaurant a bloody mess. I asked him if he wanted me to call an ambulance. He didn’t answer for a minute. He just kept looking around. I asked again, he didn’t answer. Finally, he looked at me and said,

“Can I have a job application?”

A guy came in three days in a row right after opening wanting to buy a newspaper with a hundred dollar bill. There was no way I could break that so I ended up giving him the paper.

On the fourth day I was ready for him. I’d gone to the bank and got one hundred dollar bills using my own money. I hand him ninety-nine ones and two quarters and he flips out.

He tells me he doesn’t have to take the ones. I explain it is legal tender in the correct amount of his change so, in fact, he did have to accept the change.

He left in a huff and I never saw him again.

I worked for a major league sports team and had to deliver papers to a future hall of famer. I ring the bell, he opens the door, grabs the papers, takes a step back and tells me to come in and stand there.

I’m standing there for ten minutes, afraid to move an inch. I’m looking around expecting some opulence. This guy was worth millions, this was a multi-million dollar condo but his furniture was shittier than mine. There were beer cans all over the place. It looked like a frat house.

He calls from his office and I stand in the doorway for another couple of minutes looking around at this mess. In the corner on the floor was an MVP trophy. There are boxes of balls, jersey’s, and pictures he’s signing for big bucks for a dealer. It was amazing. Finally he says,

“Grab some trash bags from the kitchen, pick up the cans and bring them to the liquor store.”

Although that was way out of my job description I knew better than to refuse. So I started cleaning up. I must have filled ten trash bags, at least. Then I hauled them down the stairs, five floors, because I couldn’t use the regular elevator and the service elevator was doing a move.

I get all the bags in my car and bring them to the liquor store. By now I’m sweating like a bastard but I’m done. I get back to the condo thinking that, like the other players when you do a personal service, he’ll be giving me a tip for being his cleaning lady.

He meets me at the door, hands me the papers and says,

“Where’s my money?”

I’m dumbfounded as he says,

“You better not short me. I know exactly how much is there.”

And not for a minute did I doubt him.

I was working backstage security when this guy without a pass tried to get into the room. So I stopped him and he went nuts.

Turns out he was the main act. I didn’t know him from anyone else. He was before my time so I don’t think I even knew any of his songs. But there he was, pulling a nutty right there in front of me.

In the middle of the exchange he says,

“I’ll have your fucking job.”

I was so sick of putting up with this has been. I’m working some stupid job at my college and I’m getting shit on by a guy who hasn’t had a hit in my lifetime? Please!

“I saw the crowd tonight,” I said. “And taking my job would be a good move. I’m sure I’m getting paid more than you tonight.”

I worked in gift shop and this woman wanted to return a set of wine glasses. She said she got the wrong type and had never used them.

I open the box to make sure everything was okay. They were in good shape but I took one out and held it up to her.

“Next time at least clean the lipstick off the rims.”

I arrived at work and there were a few people waiting for us to open. I walk past a few people who may have seen me wearing my vest up to the guy in front.

“Excuse me.”

“You’re not cutting in front of me.”

“But sir, I. . .”

“. . .fuck off.”

I turn to the other people and they’re laughing. So I shrug my shoulders and wait. The guy is looking at his watch every ten seconds. He looks around the parking lot, down the walkway, and the more he looks around the angrier he gets. He turns to the rest of us waiting and says,

“It’s past ten o’clock! Where the fuck is the guy?”

I jingle my keys in his face.

I work in for a truck rental place and sometimes we find people sleeping in the back. One day I’m taking a customer out to show them the truck, I open the back and a guy is standing there jerking off.

A customer called to tell me there was some dog shit was in the back. I didn’t want to tell her dogs would find it impossible to open the back and that it had to be human feces. Instead I said I could send someone out to clean it or she could and I’d reduce the rental. I declined her offer to bring the shit when she dropped off the truck as proof.

I worked in a photo developing store and a woman came in irate because she said her pictures looked like hell. I ask if I could see them so she starts waving them in my face telling me I couldn’t touch them. I ask her to put them on the counter so I can at least see them. And she’s right, the pictures looked like hell. But it wasn’t the fault of developing. They were all out of focus.

I was making an appointment to service someone’s furnace and asked them their address.

“Why do you need that?”

“We need to tell the repairman where to go.”

“I don’t like that. I don’t let strangers in my house.”

“Then how are we going to repair your furnace?”

“Can you do it over the phone?”

I couldn’t make this customer understand that the item they wanted would not do what they wanted it to do. We go back and forth for awhile until he says,

“What would you think if I told you I was never going to step foot in this store again?”

“I was being blessed by God.”

I caught a shoplifter and she started screaming that she brought it from home.

“You carried a twenty pound turkey from your home in  your pants?”

I worked at a breakfast place and we had this customer who was a jerk. Nothing was ever right even though he got the same thing every day. Armed with this information every morning we’d take turns kicking his bagel around the stockroom floor.

This crazy guy used to come in to get a coffee every day. He’d sit there until the moment we all dreaded: all of the other customers would leave. He was harmless but it was annoying to have him go on and on with his conspiracy theories while we were cleaning up and restocking for the next rush.

Then, one day, he was gone.

About six months after that a delivery guy delivered about a dozen good-sized boxes filled with his conspiracy theory papers. And an envelope for each of us with ten dollars.

We would read them during breaks and have contests to see who could make sense of them. There was some far out shit in there.

It was a restaurants grand opening with signs stating that everywhere. A woman was screaming that this was the worst service she’d had in all the years she’d been coming there.

Someone called for directions. I asked where they were coming from and they said,

“My house.”

A customer brought two items over to me. One was a high-end personal stereo system and the other was on the low-end. At first he’s asking me the differences and general questions. He seems to be paying attention but I could tell he had something else in mind.

He asked me if I’d ring up the low-end model and let him take the high-end. I told him as tempting as that sounded, it was impossible. He starts trying to convince me and it was just getting old. I told him that I’d get my manager if he wanted to discuss this any further. He tells me I don’t have to be such a jerk and he was joking.

Twenty minutes later he comes back with the low-end box. But the box was beat to shit. The top was bowed, the sides were bulging, there were rips in the cardboard. I look at the guy and he’s telling me to ring it up.

I tell him that it’s against company policy to sell items in distressed boxes and that I’d have to get him another one. I begin to put the box behind the counter when he grabs it. We both have our hands on it over the counter. He tells me if it’s distressed I should just give him a discount, ring him up and let him leave.

I tell him I could do that but I’d have to call the manager for authorization. He pulls the box out of my hand and runs toward the exit. Where he was clotheslined by a security guard who’d seem him switch items on the security monitors.

You’d think working in a greeting card store would be very laid back. But after hordes of women come in during their lunch break the place looks like a cyclone hit it.

But it’s the people who get pissy because you don’t have a card that expresses their exact emotion that can ruin your day. I had one woman rip me a new asshole because she couldn’t find anything suitable. I’m trying to help but that was only making things worse. It got to the point where she started to blame me for the sentiments.

“Lady, I just ring them up, I don’t write them.”

That pissed her off and she started ripping cards in front of me. The owner comes running from the back and it was a bid deal. She refused to pay for the cards she destroyed until mall security was called.

The next week I saw her in the store again. This time I guess our cards got better because she picked up a few and left without a word.

I did dog walking and one of the humans demanded I bring her dogs poop back after the walk. She said she’d know if I switched it with another dogs so don’t even try it. I never asked her why she wanted it.

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

No Animals

We had to put up ‘No Dogs In Buildings’ signs for obvious and, trust me, not so obvious reasons. Someone comes in, sees the sign, and says,

“I think I brought my ferret in here once. But he was well-behaved. Like a dog.”

Here I think, ‘like a dog that has been banned from here?’ But let her continue.

She tells me stories about her ferret and ends with one that has to do with a cemetery. Not a ferret cemetery, the human kind. She took the ferret there so it could run around on the grass. Suddenly, she lost sight of it. Well, lost sight of everything but it’s tail. Whoops! Just lost sight of that. It had burrowed (I know! Who knew ferrets burrowed!) into a hole near a grave.

After reaching down the hole to no avail, she began wailing and pounding on the grave like a bereaved soul. Except, instead of screaming out the name of the dearly departed, she was screaming,

“Snooksie! Snooksie! Snooksie!” Over and over again.

Finally, after three hours, the ferret popped back from beyond.

I’m going to have to discuss a ‘No Ferret Owner’ sign on the building with my boss.

Jonesing For The Show?

So how about a little live Flight Of The Conchords to get you through your day?

Surviving Customer Service 7

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

Interviews in the customer service world are unlike anything in the business world. In the business world you’ll sit at a desk. The interviewer will have papers strewn across the desk. You’ll have good posture, be wearing a suit and, possibly, have an air of confidence.

That’s not quite how it goes in customer service. Usually the manager will be leading you around tossing questions, of which your response will only be half heard, over their shoulder.

Although you may think that’s a very distracting way to interview, it works to your advantage. Ignore the useless babble about how it’s a family. How much they watch out for their own. How fulfilled you’ll be.

Be honest, you hate your family, corporations only care about you if you were your height in hundred dollar bills, and, as far as being fulfilled, that’s sort of true. They’ll do their best to fill up all your time.

What you need to pay attention to are the non-verbal cues you’ll see throughout the store. To catch the non-verbal cues you’ll have to pay attention to the employees busily pretending to work as you pass.

If they refuse to make eye contact and seem as if they’re not breathing run out of the building as quickly as you can. The manager is an ogre and possibly a card carrying member of BEKK (Baby Eating Kitty Killers) who, once corporate gets enough evidence, will gets fired for fondling mannequins in the lingerie department then placed on the fast track to 4AM infomercial hucksterism followed by a stretch in the big house.

If they smile and nod in unison you’ll want to make a more subtle escape. They’re all jockeying for the soon to be available managers position and will eat your liver over a pallet of cream corn to accomplish it.
If they’re friendly with the manager you might hang around until the end of the interview but, the moment you get home, change your phone number.

This group is well versed in the art of shorting the till, stealing stock before it hits the loading dock, and credit card fraud. Corporate is aware of their extra curricular actives and is just wanting for the subpoenas to come in before swooping down and cleaning house.

If they’re polite to the managers face but roll their eyes or make even more menacing gestures out of sight you may want to wander off slowly into another department.

This manager is ineffectual and is afraid to cross the employees because their (fake) friendship means more than doing the work. During your first shift every job that’s been piling up for months will be heaped upon you and you won’t see the light of day for half a year.

As you can see, watching for the subtle clues of the crew can pay dividends during your job search.

The interview itself is nothing more than an opportunity to probe you. The moment you showed up, proved you were alive, the job was yours. But they have to go through the talking part. They do it to put on an air of professionalism. When you think about it, most of the questions they’re asking are answered in the application. The other questions are a series of well-honed questions to test your psychological mettle.

This is the time they’ll give you things like the corporate mission statement. Don’t bother reading it because, no matter what inspirational sentiment they’ve heavily paid a writer (such as myself) all it truly means is,

“Profits! All we care about it the bottom line and one way we’ve found to accomplish it is to buy cheap shit, sell it for much more than it’s worth while paying our low-level employees (that’d be you) just enough to sustain them so they have the strength to come to work every day.”

They’ll also give you the blessed Employee Handbook. We’re going to cover that in the next chapter but you should know it’s filled with nothing more than corporate speak designed to cover their asses while making it virtually impossible to sue when they fire your ass.

The most important item you’ll be given is a name tag. I’m not saying it’ll have your name on it but, and trust me here, don’t lose it. To the company that tag is more important than you. This will be your first of many brandings by the company.

Just like a cow, you are now chattel. You will be prodded and poked; penned for hours with only the florescent light to keep you warm; their corporate-speak will be seared into your head until, years after you have escaped their clutches, you’ll be able to recite their approved sales pitch; and, even more despicable, you’ll be able to rattle off SKU numbers of products long removed from the shelves.

Once the interview really gets rolling you’ll have to recite a series of appropriate and hackneyed phrases to show your desire to work for this corporation. Don’t worry that they sound trite, that’ll help the interviewer see that you’re already, at least partially, indoctrinated.

Also, don’t give a second thought that the interviewer will think the lines bullshit. They know they are. So, to try and put you on an even level at the interview, here’s a list of phrase you will recite and what the interviewer actually hears.

“I feel I’d be an asset to the team.”
“I’ll show up when I’m supposed to.”

“I’m a hard worker.”
“Right now.”

“I’m a people person.”
“Customers, on the other hand, suck.”

“I believe in giving an honest days work.”
“I’ll only steal when no one’s around.”

“Being on a successful team is important to me.”
“I need a job. Why else would I be here?”

“I was a valued member of the team at my last job.”
“The day I left.”

“I find pleasure in work.”
“Because I know I’m getting paid.”

One you and the interviewer get a rhythm that’s when the interview will really take off. They’ve heard you go on about how you are an honest, hardworking, law-abiding member of society and not once did they spit up their latte.

So now it’s your turn.

You will be offered a list of questions that have few, if any, right answers. These questions have been honed to a razors edge so that any psychological anomaly that resides in your subconscious mind will be deftly revealed.

Okay, I’m just trying to scare you here. They’re actually there to give the interviewer something to do while thinking about what to drink after work.

As mentioned, there are no ‘right’ answers to these questions so answer as blandly as possible. And by ‘blandly’ I mean lie. Go ahead! Toot your own horn! Tell them you’re the last triple crown winner in major league baseball! Tell them you invented a cure for dog drool! Lie as big as you’ve always wanted to because they’re not listening anyway!

Have you learned nothing so far? You’re sitting there, right? You haven’t pissed yourself or stolen anything off the desk, right? Then you’ve got the job.

Unless. . .

As with any situation in life, you can make a mistake. So what we’re going to do is go over a potential list of interview questions. We’ll point out some of the pitfalls you’ll encounter and some answers you should not give if you want to exit the building under your own power.

Tell me about yourself.

Whatever you do here, DO NOT be honest. Tell them about your idealized self, the self you would have been if you hadn’t spent your formative years playing beer pong and playing video games.

In other words, use the talents you’ve honed over the years when you’ve got caught doing something and you needed to extricate yourself from that situation.

That’s right, lie. Often and big.

What do you find most attractive about this position?
The cashier. Although true, this is an example of why you shouldn’t go with the first thing that comes to your mind. Take a moment, seem as if you’re giving this some serious thought, and pretend you’re vying for the Miss America crown.

What do you know about our organization?
If you’ve heard anything bad, like they’ve dumped toxic baby dolls in a school yard or have the women who stitch their designer t-shirts give birth right on the line to increase the number of their employees.

Turn it around. They’re charity in the community knows no bounds and they show compassion to working mothers by having on-site child care.

What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities?
Herpes itches. Although you may know that as fact, again, it is not an appropriate answer if you’re trying to actually get the job. If you’re not then go for it!

Why do you want to work for us?
Do not say it’s a requirement of your parole. Remember, you’re in a situation where lying is a prized commodity. If you’re not a adept liar what better time to practice? You’re inquiring about employment for a job that will force you to lie to a good eighty to ninety percent of the people you come in contact with. So make it a whopper,
“Because the camaraderie I felt meeting the other team members and the way you’re making me feel as we speak made me feel as if my life’s choices have finally placed me in the family I should have been born to.”

Why should we hire you?
It won’t hurt here if you’re actually a little humble. Tell them although your past experience proves you’d be an asset to any company with the foresight to hire you, the real reason is you saw how understaffed the floor was so, if you don’t get out there tout de suite homicide detectives will be cordoning off the area within the hour.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life?
Don’t go for the easy answer such as, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, or Bernarr MacFadden (inventor of the penis pump). It’s best to go with someone obscure who the interviewer most likely won’t know but had major impact on the customer service industry. I’d suggest that rat bastard, Harry Gordon Selfridge.

What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
Let’s be honest, the answer, unless you can make customers shit diamonds on the way out the door, there’s nothing special about you. If there were you’d be curing something or inventing a booze undetectable by breathalyzer.

So reach into the big ol’ bag ‘o sports cliches and spew a few.

“I hit the ground running.”

“I give one hundred and ten, no, one hundred and eleven percent.”

“I think I tore my groin on that turnaround.”

How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our team?
Hahahahahahaha! Oh, no, that’s not right, don’t do that. See? Even I, someone with hundreds of interviews under my belt, can get caught up with the moment and react like a rational person. You must, at all costs, resist the urge to act rational. It will be your downfall and prove that your brain has waves which means you are a thinker which stands to reason you’ll last two maybe three days on the job. Then what’ll happen? That’s right! The interviewer will have to do more interviews which will severely cut into their internet poker playing.

How would you describe the ideal job?
Although various and, let’s be honest, unattainable positions are racing through your head resist the urge to mention them. The interviewer knows this can’t be your ideal job so they actually ask this question to get ideas for their career change.

How long would you stay with us?
This is tricky because if you say ‘The rest of my life!’ they’ll know you’re lying and, although everything out of your mouth is a lie, you shouldn’t be too flagrant about it. So give a non-answer such as,

“As long as the work is rewarding.”

“As long as I feel I am an asset to the team and an employee you can count on.”

“Until you find out I lied on my application and the phone numbers I used are for sex lines.”

What do you look for in a job?
If long hours, short pay, and mind-numbing banality is your answer you’ve come to the right place!

How would you describe yourself?
Do not describe yourself as you do in your internet profiles. The main pitfall of using that well thought out description is they can see you.

If you had difficulty with a supervisor? How did you resolve the conflict?
Don’t mention the time to gave your manager a swirly. As your manager, they’re looking out for their own safety. Tell them you scheduled a meeting off work hours where the two of you sat down and discussed a variety of solutions that could be realistically implemented and agreed upon. Remember to leave out the swirly and your parting remarks,

“I hope your toupee gets sucked into the toilet, you fat bastard!”

Why did you decide to seek a job with us?
Isn’t this the perfect corporate question? Okay, sure, you were looking for a job but, let’s be honest, until you walked by the place and spotted the ‘help wanted’ sign you probably didn’t even know they existed.

But, oh, big corporate master needs you to stroke it’s massive ego by making you answer a question that eliminates any possibility that you’ve already interviewed at eighty-seven places and this was your last option before your roommates through you out of the house.

Because of that, you should answer thusly,

“Your corporate identity is held in such high esteem how could I not want to work here?”

I know, I know, if I sucked any harder the back of my head would implode but, as I’ve said before, lie and lie big!

What are your long-range career objectives?
This is another attempt by the interviewer to get new job ideas. Don’t fall for it. Tell them insurance fraud.

How well do you work with people?
Unacceptable response: “How dumb are the people?”

What’s more important, the work or the pay?
No seriously, stop laughing this question has actually been asked. It’s a test to see just how pliable you are.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
They want you to say, “In a high level management position just like yours.” Because they like to feel they’re not alone in their misery.

But they know if you answer, ‘Working here!’ you are either lying (remember, don’t be too obvious), after their job, or such a moron they’d spend most of their time cleaning up after your debacles.

This is a perfect opportunity to toot your own horn (yes, I mean lie) and tell them of all the humanitarian endeavors I just told you you’re interested in.

Saving the rain forest, saving the whales, opening a bar called Club Baby Seals. It doesn’t matter what you say as long as you’re not seen as a threat to their power.

How would a good friend describe you?
Do NOT say drunk, cellmate, or lucky to be alive.

What are your expectations regarding promotions and salary increases?
I’m joking! They’ll never ask that.

What’s the most recent book you’ve read?
This one has a title that sounds vaguely helpful. That should be enough to fool them.

What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
DO NOT use anything that connects in any way, shape, or form to any bodily function or excretion.

What do you do in your spare time?
This is the part of the interview when they get to know the real you. See your dreams, ambitions, and loves outside the confines of the work-a-day world.

So, for gawd sake, don’t tell them the truth! Tell them you help the homeless get their start (you’re an arsonist). Tell them you help single mothers get their start. Anything other than that you’re a spliff smoking, couch napping slug. Because if they find that out, they may want to hang.

What interests you about our products?
Answering ‘easy to steal’ is considered bad form.

How do you work under pressure?
Handfuls of pills and a six-pack.

What things are most important to you in your job?
A sense of team, servicing customers, and the pride you feel at the end of a tough, long, stressful day are all acceptable responses.

And probably the biggest lines of bullshit in this entire Lie-apalooza. There can’t be a human left on the planet who wakes up with a smile on their face, bounce in their step, and song in their heart on a day when they have to go to work. But, if there is, that’s a person I have to meet.

To kill before they procreate.

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

Black Out

We’d just finished a show and the host was giving me a ride home. She remarked that traffic was heavier than usual during this trip. At first, as we reached a rotary that signified the last stretch of road, I wrote it off as a hot night so people were restless. It didn’t take me too long to realize that, although I was partially correct, I was mostly wrong.

“You know what’s weird?” I ask.

“You mean other than all the lights are now out?”

“Well, no.”

I stand guessed as we travel down a busy, dark street. We make the turn to my house and it’s even darker. Living on a high, barely lit on the best days, cul-de-sac will do that. The host and I bid adieu as I walked into the dark house.

I could tell no one had been home since I left thirteen hours ago. I figure, due to my amazing deductive abilities, that my girlfriend is out with friends. I have no idea where the daughter was but there was really only one thing in my mind.

“I have the house to myself!”

The darkness doesn’t daunt me. As a matter of fact, there was really only one thing in my mind.

“I’m not paying for electric!”

It’s the small victories really. I gingerly move around the house so as not to trip over any cats. They were happy to see me in that ‘Excellent! The feeding human is here!’ manner. I feed the cats, open the fridge and grab a beer because I feared they would spoil if I didn’t drink them quickly.

I take the beer outside and feel the light summer breeze while sitting on the stairs  watching the skyline of Boston blink and planes come and go from Logan Airport. It was in this very peaceful state I came up with the idea that everyone should shut off their electric once a month. That way they could feel the peace of not feeling as if they had to do something or being distracted by the blips and lights that make normal life so winky. I’m allowing the light silence cover me when I hear,

“Hey! Chris.” It’s my neighbor. He’s a good guy but I know this is driving him crazy. He’s not fond of the overwhelming heat we’ve had today so I know he’s not in the same frame of mind I am as I cross the street.

He tells me he got home at 7:30 and it was dark then. That’s over two hours as we speak. We only chatted for a couple of minutes before the bugs found us. We were swarmed so bid each other farewell and ran to the bug-less safety of our homes. Standing in the middle of the living room I polish off the beer and decide to do the only thing a boy like me, alone, in the dark, in total silence can do at a time like this.


The warm water beat down upon me as I lathered up my face and head to scrape off the stubble. It was a soothing way to shower. You realize how many distractions don’t seem too distracting in your normal day. But standing there with just the piddle of water and scratching blade over my head I realized just how much input shrouds your day.

I grab another beer and settle on the couch. Every once in a while a cat will wander in, wonder why I’m sitting there, think me quite mad, before wandering off. I hear a car pull up the street. By the way it parked it could only be the elderly woman who lives at the top of the cul-de-sac, her daughter or son-in-law. I don’t really care enough to get up and see but when I notice the tail lights settle in I had to assume it was the daughter or her husband.

I hear a male voice so it’s the son-in-law. He’s an annoying sort. The other day I was in the basement cleaning and he comes to the door where I’m sweaty, dirty, spider webby, sticks his head in the door and says,

“Doing some cleaning, eh?”

“What?” I snap. No, I love being in a place I  can’t fully stand for three or four hours at a time. Makes me feel better about evolution.

I saw him make his way over and, trust me, if I was dressed in my tux (yes, I own a tux) and in an awesome mood I’d be disinclined to speak with him. When I’m snorting up bug carcass I’m much less inclined.

During winter, when I’m shoveling (an activity, by the way, I have years of experience so need little advice about), if he’s there he always has time to wander over and tell me how he’d do it or how the neighbors two decades ago did.

I admit to standing there knowing full well that, in the fluffy cover of snow, I could silently beat him with the shovel and slide him down the embankment where he wouldn’t be uncovered until spring.

But I’ve been told it’s best for me to keep shoveling and the murderous impulses at bay. Damn part of my mind that doesn’t want to experience prison!

He must have seen my neighbor look out the window so called him out. I listen as they give each other the latest update on the blackout. One of them called the electric company four times and the latest information they got was lights will be on by ten. The son-in-law, never to be upstaged, said he called five times and they told him eleven.

Now that I know the lights will be on any time from now until they come on, I polish off the last beer (thankful at least they won’t spoil) and hunker down on the couch and just sit there. That’s all. Not think about anything. Just feel the air move quietly past.

Until I see a flash of light out the window to my left. I’m not sure it was true but the first one looked like a ball of lightning. That was followed, over the next ten or fifteen minutes, with a show of lightning that rivaled any fireworks display ever witnessed from this hilltop.

And, to the best of my knowledge, it was mine to enjoy alone.

The odd part was even the lightning paid homage to the silence of the night. Not once during the performance did a thunderclap break through. Just lightning strike after lightning strike filling the sky then going away just as quickly. All in the silence that was the due of this evening.

Once I was sure the show was over, I rolled to my side for a warm, silent, dark sleep. There’s something deep about sleeping with none of the blips and tiny lights of modern life. There’s nothing other than distant traffic or maybe the wind causing a leaf to shudder to be heard.

In that state, I fall asleep.


I’m woken by what is, this night, a sound out of place. It snaps me awake and it takes me a few seconds to place. I don’t know how long I was sleeping but it was deep. And we all know I’m not often deep.

“The lights are out!” I hear the daughter bellow into the phone. “What am I supposed to do?” I hear the daughter ask the question most people ask when in this situation.

The reality of being disconnected; the fact that input cannot be an eye blink away; the possibility that you’ll have to live in yourself for an unknown period of time is too jarring. While I realize most people won’t follow my ‘Turn Your Electric Off Once A Month’ presidential platform I hear,

“He’s on the couch sleeping like a retard.”

Wow! The things they teach you in public schools these days. I might have to take some night classes.

Then, as if the electric gawds knew my peace was broken with no chance of being salvaged, the whir of power slid up the grid. I get up and begin the arduous task (see how quickly it goes from relaxation to work in the electrified world?) of setting the clocks that don’t set themselves (old fashioned pieces of crap!). It only takes a few minutes but in that time the daughter has burst into the house and snapped on any electrical device she could find in her room.

I went back to the couch and will admit to enjoying the cool breeze of the fan that arcs the air. I sit there in mostly darkness with the dialog from some inane TV show slipping through the midnight air. I hear her footsteps before her bedroom door opens.

“Is there an extra fan anywhere?”

What’s a retard to do? Should I do the adult thing? Put on my sneakers, go to the newly organized basement, and get one of the two fans I know exactly where they are? Or should I do what a guy of my mental faculties would do and find a loophole.

“Extra fan?” I answer slipping my feet under a blanket. “Nope.”


Someone asked me to staple two pieces of paper together. Truly, one of the simplest chores I can think of. While I’m in the middle of pressing with less force than it takes to squeeze jelly out of a doughnut, the guys says,

“You should get one of those new staplers. You don’t even have to push. Just stick paper in and it staples it together.”

The fact I was standing there with his papers held out since he said,

“You should. . .”

Doesn’t seem to matter. I know it also doesn’t matter that what I just accomplished was the least effort I’ve put into anything at least all day and possibly all week.

Oh no, wait. I wrote this bit.

It did get me to thinking about what other useless shit is out there making simple tasks. . .I don’t know, simpler doesn’t seem like the proper word. Easy enough for my customers to accomplish, does that work?

Surviving Customer Service 6

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

Many people have said I’ve written this book backwards. Giving you information on the employee handbook and filling out the application at the end. To those people I say, “Shut up.”

If I’ve done my job no one has read this far. They’re too busy running to the nearest deep-sea oil-rig employment center. So, taking my own earlier advice, I should dump in some dirty limericks because I’m writing at no one.

There was a man called Dave
Who kept a dead whore in a cave
He said “I admit
I’m a bit of a shit
But think of the money I save.”

But, just in case I haven’t scared everyone freighter bound, there are some nefarious bits on employee handbooks that should be covered with the nit-pickers fine tooth comb I own.

After you get the job you’ll be given a forest load of paperwork. The most important waste of tree (to them. You won’t care a bit about this. The only piece of paper you should care about is your check) is the Employee Handbook.

The employee handbook is a little piece of legerdemain that is poured over by management, lawyers, the board of directors, and a mailroom clerk or two until it is a document so devoid of information it is declared ready for your grubby little paws.

The main reason an employee handbook exists is to baffle you with sentences that may have, at one time in it’s inception, made sense. It’s a good thing for the corporate mindset, eh? Wouldn’t want you to understand anything, would we?

For your benefit and at perilous danger to my own personal well-being, I’ve spent countless hours pouring over a myriad of employee handbooks so that you can read a sentence such as this,

“The actual policies adopted will vary from company to company and will depend to a large extent on size, number of employees, benefits offered, and other factors.”

And not feel your brain slide down your spine.

What the sentence, which was sentence one in an actual employee handbook, says is,

“Nothing you read from this sentence forward will mean anything because it may or may not pertain to you or to anyone you may see in the vicinity of your current or any future location you may or may not mobilize to.”

So why, you may ask, do companies make such a big deal about their employee handbook?

Because management loves to make work.

If management had actual tasks, such as stocking shelves, dealing with irate customers, processing insurance claims before you bleed to death, they’d actually be accountable. You can get in trouble for not dealing with a customers complaint in a timely or satisfactory fashion but who’d ever get in trouble for spending eighty-seven hours in meetings debating the merit of a colon or semi-colon?

No one! That’s the beauty of such corporate pork as the employee handbook! They can, with a straight face (which, to this day, still amazes me) go on and on about how much due diligence went in to the creation of what they deem to be a perfect employee handbook.

That is until a secretary with an English degree and plenty of time on their hands takes a gander at it and clicks off seventy-three grammatical errors in the first chapter.

Oh my! The horror! How, after all our hard work and billable hours, did those never attributed to anyone specifically (no accountability) errors get in there?

No need to live in the past! They must reconvene to create an even greater document in six to eight-seven thousand work hours.

Why do they do it? Because, damnit, our employees deserve it! And a manager is in the market for a new boat.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little hard on what the employee handbook actually stands for. After all, this chapter is called ‘Deciphering The Employee Handbook’ not ‘Holding The Employee Handbook Out For Ridicule’. You’ll have plenty of time for that once you get your own.

The employee handbooks basic function is to dangle corporate benefits in front of you while scaring you senseless so you don’t want to hang around long enough to qualify for a single one of those benefits.

They’ll scare you, right off the bat, by making you sign a form that states you something to the effect that you, ‘acknowledge, understand, accept and agree to comply with the information contained in the employee handbook.’

Yikes! Even the part about indentured servitude for the first born?

In reality, all they’re saying is,

‘See this stuff? We can fire you for anything at anytime.’

Maybe you’d see that as a good thing.

“At least I have a list of things that could get me fired,” you may be thinking.

To that I would say, go out and buy another copy of this book. This copy didn’t work for you.

To hedge their bet they’ll add something to the effect of, ‘I understand this handbook is not intended to cover every situation which may arise during my employment. . .’

What they’re really saying is, ‘We did our best to make firing you as easy and litigation free as possible but, just in case, we’re keeping a few things under wraps.’

After that they’ll cop a laid back attitude, give you a heaping, ‘Hey, how ya doin’?’ Make you feel this is the place for you. You know, the cupcakes and coffee segment of the ‘Satanists For Jesus’ orientation.

It’s here you’ll run into many words like, success, goal-oriented, vision, progressive, excellence, and rewarding. It’s also in this area you’ll be told how, out of the billions of people in the world, they chose YOU!

The fact you were walking by on the way to pick up a slush, realized you didn’t have any money, and saw the ‘help wanted’ sign never seems to come up, does it?

You haven’t even punched in yet and they’re already giving you a line of corporate double talk. Does bode well for once they start paying you, does it?

The meat of the handbook is when they mention policies. Trust me when I say they can go on. They’ll mention things like theft or inappropriate removal or possession of property; falsification of timekeeping records; working under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs; fighting or threatening violence in the workplace; negligence or improper conduct leading to damage of employer-owned or customer-owned property; insubordination or other disrespectful conduct; violation of safety or health rules; smoking in prohibited areas; sexual or other unlawful harassment; possession of dangerous or unauthorized materials in the workplace; excessive absenteeism or any absence without notice; unauthorized use of equipment; unauthorized disclosure of confidential information; violation of personnel policies; unsatisfactory performance or conduct; failure to work assigned overtime; abuse of the travel expenses policy.

Sure makes the place seem less fun to work at, doesn’t it?

As you can see you can get fired pretty easily. Don’t let it bother you. I’ve seen everything on that list, and many things not, broken. Often by the same person. Okay, often by me. Hey! I’m not here as a role model.
The reason for this chapter is to give you a little heads up on what you’re up against because I know damn well you’re never going to read the employees handbook. The first one I read was as research for this book (yes, research went into this. Not much but I’m not much of a reader).

The things is, management knows you won’t read it. Even if they sit there while you flip through the pages they know there’s no way you can read thirty odd pages in the seven seconds it took you to flip through.

That fact (98.6% of all employees never read the employees manual according to SoMUS – Society of Made-Up Statistics) allows management unfettered power to fire and harass at will. Because, when you try to fight back with information gleamed from the employee handbook, you won’t be able to find it because you threw it in the nearest trash receptacle when you left.

The best you have is this book. And that, my friend, is a sad, sad fact.

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.