comin’ to the end

Just spoke to mOm, happy sigh.

Just in case you didn’t get these pics, here’s what the Earth looks like as you’re approaching from 31 million miles away.

People are coming by my desk at work and commenting about how I’ll be moving soon.  And I will be.  One group is taking over the 3rd floor, and the group I belong to will be moving downstairs, about two seats from where I was five years ago.  Change lobsters and dance, everybody.

Work today was okay.  I made two customers sit still for me bitch slapping them for being stupid, and one of them thanked me for it.  The other one gave me a hard time and I told him that we had not manufactured junk, he had wrecked the product, but if he wanted to yell at me about it that was okay with me.  I felt sorry for the first guy, if his wife wasn’t such a dork he wouldn’t have ended in the predicament he was in.  Too smart to say that though, guys will defend wives who need to go down for some serious reality maintenance (and versa bloody vice, I well know) if a total stranger starts yipping about how she’s a fool with OCD.

The rest of my customer interactions were fun.  Now that I’m coming to the end of my days on the phone, I’m cheerful with every call.  It’s only going to be a short while longer.  Everything changes; everything comes to an end; I have phone skills to die for and I do the Gibbs equivalent of the stare on the phone; sometimes I am quiet for so long the customer starts saying “hello?”, and I’ll quietly say, “I didn’t want to interrupt you,” which is one of those things you only say to customers when you’re thinking how glad you are you’re not married to them and it’s also the perfect thing to say when you want to tell the customer she should be done talking.  I’ve told customers that they want American made quality at Chinese made prices and does that sound reasonable? – and I’ve told customers when they say they will never again buy our products that I’m glad we live in a country where there’s a competitor to go to.  Then they go out and buy one of our products again, except this time it’s private labelled for someone else so they think they’re putting one over on us.  I never clue them in, they’d just get all mad for nothing.

I’ve never told a customer to put in his fucking teeth, although I’ve wanted to; I’ve never told a customer that his inability to read the manual is one thing, but his inability to understand it is something else; I’ve never told a customer to get off the phone, and in fact, I don’t hurry customers off the phone.  I find out what they want to know and tell them, or transfer them. If there are ten calls in the queue, I don’t care.  It’s one customer at a time, in such a fashion that he or she does not need to call back unnecessarily.  Do as you would be done by.

I’ve spent ten years protecting the outright lies and homeopathic quantities of truth in the marketing documents produced by an never ceasing waterfall of people who don’t actually use our products, and strangely enough, I’ve outlasted every single one of those people; every year there is a new fresh face to complain to about how the products actually are cool enough without the empty verbiage and misleading photographs.  This sentence deleted on the insistence of my attorney.

On the phone, when the customers say to you, You Know This is Wrong, the temptation to transfer every complaint to the culprits in Marketing and Product Management is on a scale positively Biblical (as Dunnett remarked) but that would just get me a spanking and not accomplish anything.  No, when I am no longer employed at the company, their little mannerisms, the way they check their Blackberries when you’re attempting to communicate important customer requirements in meetings, only to look up at you blankly when you’re done ,,, yes, it will all be lovingly recorded in a little fiction.  Or I’ll write a song about them and put it on Youtube, as we all know I have the attention span of a housefly at an abattoir and that would prob’ly be my best riposte.  Alan once said that revenge is a dish best served cold.  I could do it now; none of them would notice, and even if they did, Satan would be driving a Zamboni to work before they’d figure out it was aimed at them.

So, we’re coming to the end of an era at work.  Allegra is getting off the phones for end user customers of low end products, and I’ll be dealing with small businesses and fewer phone calls and more transactions.  With any luck I’ll adjust well to the change, and I’m looking forward to the help and guidance I’ll be getting from my new teammates and ultimate bosses.

But I’ll be blunt.  It’s making me sad.  I like talking to customers.  I’ve been challenged, I’ve been forced to communicate more skillfully and consistently, and usually I figure out where the customer is at and what I can do to make it a pleasant interaction for both of us within the first 30 seconds and sometimes even faster than that.  I will miss it.   But that’s the way things go, and for every time I’ve had a challenging, difficult, rude or irrational customer, I’ve had 10 solid, funny, comfortable, civilized, educational slices of other people’s lives. I can spell every city and town in the US, damned near; I’ve learned not to hate Americans; I’ve learned to love American regional accents, almost all of them anyway; and I just wish I could have done a better job, now that I’m looking back.

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Born when atmospheric carbon was 316 PPM. Settled on MST country since 1997. Parent, grandparent.

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