Friday, March 27, 2009

Serving it Up

     Everybody who has worked in the service industry sometime in their life please raise your hand.  Wow, that's a lot of you, Company.  You guys can all get out of here.  You can actually go down to the cocktail lounge down by the lobby if you want.  Have all the drinks you want, just run a tab and the three douchebags who didn't raise their hands will pay it.  As for you three, we need to have a talk about the service industry, okay?
     Here's the deal: there are thousands and thousands of people who work in the service industry in this country.  That's the "services" part of goods and services.  You know how people in manufacturing are considered "blue collar", and those in offices are considered "white collar?"   Well, those in the service industry have red, black, green collars, all sorts of colors, except that most of them are on polo shirts or maybe a tuxedo.  The point of it is that every day you run into people whose main job is to wait on other people, like you and I, hand and foot for just a tick over minimum wage.  And they hate every minute of it.
     Oh yeah.  I've worked there.  Lots of people I know work in that industry.  And it's hell.  When you go into a restaurant or a shoe store or an H&R Block, and the people are really nice to you, they are just doing that because they have to.  It's written in their contract or whatever.  They are being nice to you because that's THEIR JOB, because that's what they get paid to do.  You want to know a secret?  Those people rip you to shreds the you step out of the door.  Oh yeah.  Have you ever been in the break room at a Best Buy?  Oh man.  All they do is talk about how hilarious that guy who was looking for a VCR was.  They rip into the lady who was asking about if the iPod takes discs.  Oh yeah, it's true.  Want more examples?  I will give you more examples.  Have you ever gone to the Instant Oil Change place and had them find out that your front tires are pumped up to 50 psi but your back ones are at 21 psi and your transmission is leaking from like sixteen different places?  Oh yeah, they take care of you good but then as soon as that garage door closes behind you the knife is in your back, and it's being twisted.  
     But don't take it personally, please.  I don't.  It's really the only way for those people whose lives are devoted, as least until they blow this pop stand.  If the service industry didn't have somewhere off the floor, or away from the counter, or that old-style shade that the bank tellers used to pull down across their window that allowed them to blow off steam they would most certainly explode, all over you and your friends in a very unproductive and public sort of way.  Think of it like a volcano.  Thousands of people live safely on the Big Island of Hawai'i, even though it is an active volcano spewing forth.  But it sort of sits and spews a little bit of steam and a little bit of lava at a time.  A small amount but very frequently, and so it's stable enough for them to live in its shadow.  Now you know what happens when a volcano can't blow off it's steam little by little, when it builds up over years and years?  Ask the people who were living on the slopes of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.  It's not pretty.  If the customer service people can't blow off their frustrations in the break room for 15 minutes every two hours plus a half hour lunch, then pretty soon that weird guy Burt from Sbarro in the food court is going to be standing on top of the fountain in the middle of the mall picking off tweens with that .22 he just stole from Dick's.  Hahaha, I just said "Dick."  Anyway, the customer service in America is better because of it, and it's not that they hate you anyway, it's just more that they hate all customers.
     So like I said, don't take it personally.  They even do it to one another.  Oh yeah.  People who work at ice cream stands will cut down people who work down at BK as soon as they take the first lick out of the cone.  Then, those ice cream stand people will get the knife plunged into their back when they are done at the bank.  It's okay.  You shouldn't get upset about it.  Those assholes down in the cocktail lounge getting hammered off your room tab don't.  Because they know that it's no big deal, and that there is no way to combat it anyway.  The best way to do it is to go into any situation and be polite, as well informed as you can be, and to leave an appropriate tip if there's a tip cup.  Then they simply won't remember you.  Unless you are a regular and then they will just not despise you.  That's just the way it is.
     Now I know that some of you are going to get a little freaked out about this.  Please don't.  I am not trying to spook you into staying inside your house for the rest of your life.  I am just trying to give you the heads up about how things work when you are pulling away from the drive through window.  That nice guy behind the counter does not hate you personally.  He just is sick and tired of waiting on people, 90% of whom are jerks.  You are not a jerk, but there are enough rotten apples in the proverbial bunch to make them all seem a little smooshy.  Just remember to be nice to the people who are helping you, because on the whole they probably don't want to.  Even if they've been your butler or personal assistant for the last 30 years, they are still sick of it.  That's just the way it is.  I am sorry.  Now got on downstairs you three, and don't forget your wallets.  And you'd better leave a big old tip for the bartender.

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