DEALING WITH CUSTOMER SERVICE


I was sitting in the waiting room of the hospital in Lenoir City as my wife had a stress test run. It’s not my favorite thing to do at 7:00 a.m. in the morning, but I’d never let my girlfriend drive herself to such an ordeal. What made the ordeal even worse were some of the folks who checked into the hospital. They would try the patience of Job.
A lady who arrived to have a colonoscopy sat at the desk of one of the persons who fills out intake papers. I’ve had several of those “invasive” test before, so I can somewhat understand why she’d be so “sore.” However, this female was rude and hateful to the woman checking her in. No, I wasn’t eavesdropping; the patient was squawking loudly enough to let all in the waiting room know how unhappy she was.
I’m not sure what the purpose of being rude to the clerk was. She hadn’t ordered that the colonoscopy to be performed; she hadn’t forced the patient to drink that disgusting concoction that led to long
visits to the bathroom. No, the worker was simply asking questions to confirm information already on forms, and she asked other things to make sure the woman across from her understood that she would be responsible for any uncovered costs.
The same type of rudeness can be seen at any business that serves the public. Customers attack workers when they return a defective product. The carping and bad attitude blast the person who is trying to help.
The fact is that the man or woman who is assisting the customer did not manufacture, box, or sell the
product. Yelling and chastising the person does nothing toward aiding the swapping of the item for a new one or securing a refund. Instead, it puts employees on the defensive and causes them to be less than willing to help.
I’ve had plenty of bad experiences with cable and internet providers. Frustration sets in when problems continue to occur. Calls to customer service hopefully resolve issues. What isn’t necessary is unloading a tirade on the person on the other end of the line. Most of the time, those workers follow a script or a set of questions for every caller. Their abilities to help is limited, and sometimes the only thing they can offer is to schedule an appointment with a technician. If a customer belittles and curses the worker, does he think such actions will make the helper more likely to set a quick appointment?
If food doesn’t meet expectations, a customer can complain. She can berate the server and demand to see the manager. A flood of vitriol can wash over the entire staff, and perhaps the unhappy individual will feel better. However, that diner might want to examine any food that is then returned to him. We’ve all heard stories of the little presents that cooks add to the entrees of surly customers.
When I have a problem, my first action is to ask for a manager. That individual is who has the ability to address the problem. It is to her that I lodge my complaint. I ask for a resolution that fixes the problem. Only when that person is rude or unwilling to help do I raise my voice or talk forcefully.

In case of unacceptable food, I call the manager over to complain. I don’t return the food to be better prepared because I don’t trust what might come back, and I never ask for the cost of the meal to be erased or expect a free meal the next time I visit. My goal is to let the manager know that the service is poor and that it will lead to his business losing customers.
Yes, I’ve blown my top at some people in customer service. Most of the time, they are folks on the phone who don’t speak the language well. These folks read the script in front of them and then ask if the problem has been solved and if they can help in any other way. I tell them the problem still exists, but they continue to utter the same lines. That’s
when I lose patience and know that the company has no intention of satisfying customers.
Overall, we all need to be nice to others who are trying to do their jobs. Problems will arise, but our duty is to deal with them and the people who are helping the ways that we would want to be treated. If that doesn’t work, politely ask to speak to a manager. Blood pressures won’t skyrocket and help is more likely to be on the way.



I DARE YOU


Over the past couple of years, the partisanship and resulting animus between political sides has increased to a level that makes me wonder if our country will ever be all right. Politicians have managed to fracture the very fabric that makes American democracy so wonderful. They’ve managed to so polarize us so that we no longer can be civil to one another. I don’t care about the politics any more. The most important thing is for the American people to be kind to one another and to join forces for the common defense and good of the U.S.A. Therefore, I’m challenging each person who reads this and asking them to challenge at least one other person.
Each of us needs to find someone to help. These days, that shouldn’t be such a difficult undertaking. The individual that we search out shouldn’t be a family member or friend. Instead, the subjects for our projects should be folks we either don’t know at all or only know in passing. Yes, co-workers that are not well known can be included.
We don’t want to announce to them that we are about to help them with some situation. No, our goals are to get to know our choices well enough to know what they might need. Doing that will require a great deal of work. We have to spend time with folks enough to discover what areas of their lives need our help. Now, by help, I am not at all suggesting that we interject our opinions on what person should or shouldn’t do or what that we impose our values on them. No, we simply need to find people that we don’t know well and change that situation.
Once we’ve become familiar with those people, our goals are to find ways to offer help to them. Oh, yes, some people won’t need anything, and if that arises, we should choose someone else. For a block of individuals, financial help might be the key issue. Others could possibly need emotional support as they struggle with some area in their lives. Perhaps the most important help for others is simply having someone who will listen.
What is most important about this exercise is that each person who initiates it should observe the differences that his actions make. Does the one helped feel better? Does a friendship blossom? What things are learned by both people involved? Finally, has the act of reaching out to another person made a difference in how he is perceived?
This exercise takes a little effort and time. The benefits might be unmeasurable. In either case, I hope that we all might learn to be a bit more patient and empathetic with those whom we try to help. Who knows? We might help heal the great divide that now eats away at our country.
If you are brave enough to accept this challenge, let me know how it turns out. You can remain anonymous, but send an email to joerector@comcast.net to let me know how things went…good or bad.

GOOFY LOVE


Ah, young love thrives in the halls of high schools around the country. I’ve seen so many couples in the hallways and common areas. Their actions aren’t much different from those of generations that preceded them.
Back in the day, boys discovered females who would pay them brief moments of attention. Freshmen boys still struggled with that awkward physical time when their bodies were growing and their voices were squeaking. Most of them had just recently realized that the other sex existed, and their
fascination and preoccupation with them was intense.
Newly formed couples walked the halls of school tightly holding hands. Females looked comfortable with boyfriends in tow. However, those males traveled on stilted legs and with heads bowed and nerves on edge. They feared that a group of their friends would spy them and begin the teasing. Yelling at them or catcalling were common acts intended to embarrass. In reality, those who harassed were simply jealous of their friends who’d found girlfriends.
Boys walked their honeys to each class, and they were willing to be late for their own and to suffer the consequences. They ate lunch together and sat so close that one seat was all they needed. The couple looked cow-eyed at each other. Girls patted the boys’ legs and males made clumsy attempts to softly brush back locks of hair from females’ faces. Anyone who might catch a glimpse of them was subject to feeling just a bit nauseated at their actions.
In past generations, punishment for PDA (public displays of affection) was swift. Only the bravest of souls dared to exchange hugs. Rarely did a couple kiss goodbye between classes. Teachers tolerated not even a minute of such foolishness.
Sock hops gave young folks the chance to legally hold each other tight, and if the lights were turned down low enough, they might even kiss. They looked forward to slow dancing to such songs as “My
Girl” or “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” and the dance ended with “Stand by Me.” Because they were too young to drive, they stood in front of the school and draped themselves around each other until parents came to pick them up.
What stands out most about young couples was the power dynamic. Females definitely ruled the roost. The boy was so thrilled to have a girlfriend that the acquiesced to whatever she desired. In fact, the boy always seemed to walk a step behind her, and others instantly commented that the male looked more like a whipped puppy following its master than an equal in a relationship.
At some point, these romances faded and then died. The girls usually grew tired of the immaturity of the freshman boys and looked in greener pastures for upperclassmen. To their surprise, even older boys displayed the same streaks of immaturity. The females decided that they “could change” their boyfriends into individuals who were more to their liking. That tactic rarely worked as older boys just didn’t have any desire to be “whipped into shape.”
Decades later, women are still dealing with males the same way. We men still have a bit of immaturity inside, and our partners work tirelessly to rid us of it. They are still in charge in the relationship; men have seen the job of being boss and want no part of it. However, the spark that appeared so long ago is still present, and we men experience the same awkward feelings about those special girls whom we have loved so long. It’s an older, deeper, more comfortable love, but it burns just a brightly as ever.

TIGHT-LEGGED JEANS


Anyone who catches even a glimpse of me immediately recognizes the fact that I’m not much of a dresser. Neither am I in the least bit interested in the latest fashions. So, it would surprise no one that I balked at the wearing the pair of jeans my wife brought home the other day. She told me to try them on, and when I did, they were so tight around the legs that I felt smothered. Amy explained that the
pair was tight-fitting in the legs. My legs are so skinny that folks have made jokes about them for years, so it was not surprise that I wasn’t at all interested in wearing them to accentuate that characteristic. The truth is I’ve never been able to wear the nicest, most popular clothing items.
My brother was nearly four years older, and when he was in high school, guys wore peg-legged pants. They were so tight in the legs that just pulling them over feet was a difficult task. However, the look was stylish, and Dal wore them. Jim and I, on the other hand, had no chance of owning such a pair. We both possessed round body shapes, and mine was more so than his. To get a pair of jeans or pants big enough in the waist required buying “husky” cuts.
That term was code for “fat boy” jeans. Wearing them with such skinny legs would have made us look like lollipops. Our pants were big, and the seats and legs were baggy.
Only during my senior year did my body change. Some of it was due to maturity; the other part was the result of surviving on a diet of cigarettes, cokes, and peanut butter, mayonnaise and mustard sandwiches. Even though I lost several pounds, I didn’t buy new clothes. Instead, pants that were too large were cinched up with a belt. The look wasn’t good, but I survived.
In college, I owned a couple of trendier items, and my shoes were in style, even though they hurt my
feet. Jeans were the rage, and most folks wore earth shoes. I sported a bush jacket with a belt that always hung loose. No girls came rushing up to me because I was dressed so well, but that was all right since my pursuits were aimed at studying to make sure I earned a college degree and to perform better than I’d done in high school. Okay, I suppose it would have been nice if I’d made an impression, but I lucked out my senior year when I met Amy, and by then, I wore regular stuff without regard to the latest fashion demands.
Since Amy and I married, she has become the one who chooses my clothes. Left to me, my wardrobe would consist of sweat pants, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. My wife thinks that, on occasion, a better mode of dress should include a pair of slacks that aren’t so old that the ends are frayed and, at the minimum, a polo shirt that hasn’t faded to a color different from the original. She’s given up on my wearing a tie or a suit. I reserve the right to wear those things only for the most special occasions and for funerals.
So, Amy returned the tight-legged jeans without bringing home a different pair of slacks. That’s fine with me. The pairs I already have are comfortable and plenty good enough to wear most places. On my return home each day, I rush to once again put on my shorts and worn out t-shirts. It’s only then that I am suitably dressed. Oh, and those items are from places like Walmart or Costco. I’m not trying to make an impression on anyone these days. Comfort is more important.