I’m in my office talking to a customer I have a good relationship with. It’s all light and easy. He comes in, we take care of business with no issues, some laughs and he moves on his way.
I have a relationship like that with many customers. Although they don’t see it this way it’s a very one sided relationship. I know a ton about them (trust me on this, more than I want to know. To give an example, I know them so well a guy walks in with the greeting, “Well, they took ’em all.” and I immediately know he’s talking about his toes) and they know jack shit about me. It works so well that way.
So this guy and I are chatting. He tells me a couple of jokes I’ve heard a thousand times before (hazard of writing comedy) and I laugh as if they’re the funniest jokes in the world. It’s all fun and games. I’m nearing the end of a joke when someone enters. I quickly alter the joke to the clean version (just as potent a punch line, just not blue) while looking at the new guy and nod.
Everyone knows that look. It’s the ‘I’ll be with you soon’ look. It’s a look we’ve all experienced and because, as a society, we’ve agreed to accept it, wait patently for our turn.
I finish the joke, the first guy laughs and exits. The new guy, a guy I’ve never seen before, has waited a whopping total of thirteen seconds. Way below the ‘Ill be with you soon’ look time allotment.
Before I’m done with my short greeting he begins talking. I don’t say interrupt because I’m sure it’s his normal method of communication. He doesn’t strike me as a listener.
“Is there a manager I can speak with?”
“That would be me.” Not the answer he wanted. He looked at me with as much disdain as you would while picking a dead raccoon out of your car grill. My only thought is, ‘Damn, that’s a lot of disdain from someone who doesn’t even know me.’ It usually takes days, sometimes weeks, for people to build up to that level about me.
“Then there must be an owner.” I know before I say it my answer, which is the one hundred percent correct answer, will not make him happy.
“Why yes, there is.”
Then I stand there.
It doesn’t take him long to rile up all over again. It’s written all over his face. He believes dealing with me is the most difficult thing he’s been forced to do all day.
And the day is still very fucking early.
He palm plants both hands on the counter making a slapping thud. Hey folks! Want some advice from your kindly customer service guy? Don’t ever do that. The moment you do that, or it’s sister move, flicking down your credit card you’ve been branded an enemy of the state and will be dealt with summarily.
Also, while I’m laying down some knowledge to you ingrates, don’t be on the telephone when you have to do a transaction with someone else. If I’m not important enough for you to stop your important conversation (which, in my experience, consists of you saying, “Uh ha. Mmm. Uhngh.”) why should you be considered important to me? Lesson over let’s get back to my turning this idiot into a pile of mush, shall we?
“Then I would like to speak to him.”
“Can’t.” You see, the best way to shiver this guys timbers is to answer him slowly and never completely. He demands responses swiftly and complete. Yeah, well, I want his balls to catch fire so neither of us is going to get what we want.
“Are you saying you will not let me speak to him.”
“Nope. Said can’t. He’s not here.”
I can feel his balls recess and ass tighten. It actually caused him to stand up straight.
“When will he be here?” He’s steaming. Blood is mixing with sweat on his forehead. He’s pressing his hands so hard on the counter his knuckles are turning white.
“Monday.” I say reaching for his card. “All day.” I say reaching for mine. “His.” I say pointing at the appropriate card. “Mine.” He slides his hand over covering the cards.
“Does he know how much you joke around with your customers?” Oh yeah, I’d forgotten he came in on the tail end of a joke.
“Yep. Matter of fact, he teaches them to me.” Have you ever seen that red drinking bird that tilts into the water then bobs back and forth? That’s what this guy was doing. And he was almost as red.
“Does he also know how unprofessional you are?” On this one he’s right. Just as he said that it dawned on me that I don’t even know why he’s here. Damn unprofessional if you ask me.
“He’s aware of the flaws in my skills.” Not for the life of this guy can he fathom the treatment he’s receiving. Shows how well he knows me.
“I’m not kidding. I’m going to call him and tell him how you treat customers.”
“You won’t be the first. But, before you give my boss a piece of your mind, what’s the reason you’re visiting us today?”
“I want to see if you’d like to advertise on our refrigerator magnet.”
“So you’re not customer?”
“But that doesn’t. . .”
“. . .stop right there, ass eyes. The truth is, until I called you ass eyes, which fits by the way, I hadn’t done a damn thing to you. I’d stood here taking whatever bullshit that dented cranium of yours spewed.” His blood has turned lava. His jaws are so clenched it looks like he has two walnuts on the side of his face. “And now you have the balls to want to sell us something?”
And this is when I did something truly unprofessional.
I laughed in his face.
Not chortle, not giggle, not snicker nor titter.
I fucking laughed. I had to grab the wall to steady myself. He was totally unprepared for this. It’s as if his entire life has been one of getting his way through force of his rudeness. I bet many times he gets his way as an act of attrition. They just give up and give in.
“Please,” I say pointing at the cards he’s now left on the counter. “Take the cards. I’ll tell my boss to be expecting your call. Make sure you don’t leave out a single detail.” I turn in the act of concluding out business leaving him with one final statement. “He’ll enjoy the laugh.”
Without the card.
Great. Now I’m going to have to tell my boss the story.