Here’s the scenario: You’re having a nice dinner with some friends and you order a few evening cordials. Your waiter (we’ll call him Putting Myself Through College) scurries away and a riveting conversation continues questioning the resurgence of Dutch Modern furniture (it’s because of Mad Men, by the way). Suddenly, there’s a collective realization that Putting Myself Through College is taking about 10 times longer than he should be. You and your friends start to mutter little statements like “I guess he’s distilling the scotch” (snicker, snicker) and “Hope he didn’t get lost” (Good one, Chet!) and, just like that, the waiter is the enemy.
When Putting Myself Through College returns, nobody makes eye-contact with him. All your friends know that you E-vited the party and are, therefore, the evenings host. So you, alone, are stuck with the decision: Am I going to be nice to the guy or give him his comeuppance? Grown Men choose the former, you likely choose the later and say, “I’m not sure if we’re even in the mood for these now [you fruitlessly try to make eye contact with your friends], well, whatever, we’ll take them.” Putting Myself Through College sucks it up, apologizes, and hands out your Jackass and Cokes.
For a number of reasons, being rude to “the help” is unacceptable. While I shouldn’t have to explain why, the unfortunate prevalence of this behavior forces me to. Here we go.
First, customer service people have a difficult job that you don’t understand. They live and work in a place where stress is the currency and being the killed messenger is literally their job. 99% of the time, waiters can’t help it if the drinks are late – the bartender is up to her eyeballs because the co-tender called in sick at the last-minute, the computers that the restaurant uses just went down and everybody’s freaking out, another table is going bat-crap because little Walter has a nut allergy and didn’t know the Almond Tart would kill him, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Think of your job, aren’t there times when you go nuts because you can’t do the things you need to do as a result of external influences?
Second, being rude is never acceptable. This may come as a revelation to some of you, but your desire to lash out with sarcasm and biting words shows a lack of class and an inability to control yourself.
Grown Man, you’re a freaking tool, I hate you.
All right, quit being rude – I knew you wouldn’t like this bit of advice. You know why? Because being rude is fun! You’ve got embarrassment built up because you’re trying to be cool with your friends and host them well – and they’re thirsty. You’re frustrated because you just got off a plane and can’t imagine a reason why the car rental place didn’t hold your reservation. And so, your negative feelings bubble up to the surface and being rude give you a perfect opportunity to let off some steam and return to normal. Gentlemen, being rude is a reflex response for those who have yet to learn how to control emotion and empathize. Being rude is for children and talk radio hosts – not Grown Men.
Seriously though, my [customer service person] sucked. This dude was really terrible and had no reason for being so bad.
Fair enough, not every customer service person is a victim of the circumstances around them and I’m not asking you to go through life biting your tongue. Here’s what you should do, give it ten minutes to allow the rude volcano to subside. When that time has elapsed and you feel like you can be an adult about the situation, politely address the offender. Don’t curse, don’t insult the person, give a very factual representation of the issue and how your expectations weren’t met. If that person doesn’t seem receptive, speak to the next level up (manager, comment card, 800 number, web site) and state your case. After that, just drop it. You want justice and you want control – both of which are illusions.
Grown Men, it’s time to raise the bar on how we treat the service industry. If your Let’s Make a Mistake shots run a little late, simply engage your friends a riveting conversation about “the stupid blog you’ve been reading and why the guy writing it is probably a huge dork who has never even seen a girl.”
How dare you.