Friday, July 21, 2006

Customer-Service Musings...

I called in sick for my trip yesterday. I had a hoarse throat and the beginnings of a cold so I finally made the decision to call in. I was losing my voice toward the end of the flight. But it wasn’t just the physical ailments…I needed a bit of a mental break as well…The whole customer service thing is…or CAN BE a drag. It can be a twisted sort of mentality that allows the rationalization of total ownership of a front-line employee because one is parting coin for a service. If you have a problem with the product or the service from another area, why rip into the front-line person? THEY personally didn’t cause your problem. But indignant customers will harrumph that while you wear the company colors, you ARE the company…So I guess you have bear all of this unsavory behavior: exasperation, rudeness, ignorance, and just plain lack of social graces. And you have to be civil even though this behavior on an equal level out on the street would earn some of these folks a slap upside the head. Well, see…that’s the thing. When someone considers you an EQUAL or at least ANOTHER, you’re on even ground. There is a tolerant live-and-let-live mentality. But put someone in a uniform representing a company or a service, suddenly there’s this tacit, unconscious understanding that the customer OWNS that person. That they have the right to show you the nasty side of their nature because, by God, they paid for the right to do so. I’ve heard some people who have swallowed the customer-service Kool-Aid that it takes a certain gentility, kindness, and passion to serve others. Fair enough. I’ll give Miss Manners that one. But this point only holds water when the servee understands that the server is a PERSON and not a menial. He and she will do their best to anticipate your needs and the customer will APPRECIATE that you’re providing a service…or trying to. Well, there are MANY people that DON’T appreciate it. They’ve rented a servant and he/she should hop to it, smiling at whatever indignity they’re slung with because after all, THE CUSTOMER is paying their salary and for the wonderful experience of being humbled and belittled as a bonus. Miss Manners predicted that service would be getting worse in the Twenty-First Century. Because Serving Others would increasingly be seen as demeaning and humiliating and not the gentle art that it actually is…And I think she’s right. For my OWN part, whenever someone says someone rude, crass, stupid, or gauche to ME, I’m trying not to respond at all. The silence usually says it all. One passenger asked me on a flight if I was going to be a good mood this time. Okay, maybe she was on a former flight where I was wigging out. Fair enough. But it’s not the way to start things off on a brand new foot, is it? So I handed her the headset and didn’t answer…later she apologized and explained that she was trying to be funny and NOT be smart. “Okay”, I replied. And that was that. That’s the approach I want to keep using: Trying to be kind and ignoring all things that annoy or provoke me. This can work in my occupation since I don’t work for tips. I could NEVER be a waiter. They almost have to SURVIVE on generous servings on indignity. So I’m sparing a thought for THEM…GaP

Bravo Humanity

Here's a response to a friend who sent me some link regarding the whole Israel/Lebanon hullaballoo. I'm all hopeful, eh wot? ___________________________________________ Steven... The site has been suspended. Personally, I'm taking bets as to when World War III actually starts. I'm giving it 'til Christmas. Or Ramadan. Or whatever dumb religious observance comes first. Who knows? Getting blown out of the gene pool could be the best thing that's ever happened to us, really. And to THINK, it'll all be down to the oldest, deadliest game of "they started it" ever... Bravo, humanity...GaP

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vacation Is Nearly Over

Russ... God, I hope so... My self-created vacation is about to end...Learned a few things about myself, the man I'm with, and how travel to far-off places isn't always necessary. How did your visit with the Icelandic one pan out? Or dare I ask? Saw SUPERMAN RETURNS. Enjoyed it. Has a dark adult sheen to it...feels like a continuation of the first two but with an innoncence-lost tinge to it... Hope you're well, my friend...GaP _______________________________________________________ G--, Sometimes the travels to far off places can be a diversion which takes us away from the real journey ... the one inside. It's when travels augment and illumine the psyche that they are really beneficial. I remember ready that Carl Jung derided the "age of exploration," Shakleton, et al., as a rather sissified period. He said the real daring explorations are the ones we make into our own interior. Travel, it seems to me, takes us away from the ordinary and gives us new eyes ... not unlike Superman's x-ray vision. The visit with Jeannie of Antarctica went very well. We had a good time exploring parts of Virginia and North Carolina. It's nice to have a female companion; again, new eyes ... not to mention other comforts. Hmm? I don't know where you got the idea she's Icelandic. She's Swedish/Welsh by genetics and Oregonian by birth. I was going to see Superman Returns this afternoon. When I got to the wrong theater at showtime the only thing on was Pirates of the Carribean. Too long ... too much lame action. It was cool inside, though, on a very hot day. Tell me more about your "self created vacuum." What was that all about? I'll have the computer on the trip, so I'll be in touch. All best, Russ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Russ... I reread my message...and it said self-created VACATION. Not sure why I referred to it as such. Maybe it was the cobbled-together nature of it...part-travel, part lounging at home...In this case, travel DID help us to illuminate what was going on inside. Except for Halifax and Yarmouth, I didn't particularly enjoy the long road travel. Plus Bill just got rattled with the change of routine... So we've been home for a few days problems... Carolyn is having her birthday party today...thrown by ME. Ray is getting a bit...resentful? Lonely? because of my extended absences from home. I guess he likes a familial presence around that doesn't walk on all fours...Ah well...he's had the opportunity to be tired of my CONSTANT presence once upon a he's got the opposite... Let me know what you think of the film when you see it...Oh, and in a classic case of cross-media pollination, Supes NOW has a crystalline-based Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic based on the movies.(The WB's SMALLVILLE also had Clark creating the Fortress in the same way...I guess it's an iconic image) Superman is a mythology that grows and evolves over time...Comics influenced the radio programs which created Jimmy Olsen and Kryptonite, both of which were later introduced in the comic. Then Superboy(The Adventures of Superman...when he was a boy!) comes along...and informs the Smallville part of the myth...Then Supes is radically reinvented in 1986 by John Byrne...all of the fun stuff was taken out...his Kryptonian relatives,(Kara Zo-rel...Supergirl) the knowledge of his culture, Superdog...BUT Clark and Martha Kent, his adoptive parents are still around. THAT's an improvement. It's good for Kal-El to have a simple refuge out in the heartland when he needs a break. But now Supergirl is popular demand. She was a popular character as well... But I digress... However, I think I'll be buying Seasons 1 and 2 of the George Reeves television show...and Season 1 of SUPERBOY. I AM a fanboy... Hope you're well,my good friend...GaP