(Addressed to the fun fun people I met at work today.)
Thanks to the fact that the place I was planning to do tech support for was not hiring this summer, thus forcing me to bag groceries for 8 weeks, I haven't been doing tech supporty things for almost 3 months. But guess what, my friend, I was hired for this job, you were not. I'm glad that you're enjoying your first week of college freedom. For me, it's my third year doing this stuff, my second year doing tech support for this college.

I know you can't conceive of this, but the fact that your dad built your computer for you does not make you an expert on said computer. The fact that your uncle gave you this computer gives you no right to question the way I go about hooking you up to our LAN. Hey, your brother is a MCSE! Great! You can still trust me when I say that this ethernet card goes into that PCI slot. How do I know? Well, see here on the box where it says "Linksys PCI Etherfast 10/100..."?
(end address)

Professional courtesy is not too much to ask, is it? I've never, ever talked to people in a business relationship the way I've been talked to on this job. Many of the above comments would be like me saying to a waitress "Hey toots, you might want to hold the coffee pot like *this* when you pour, okay?"

Exactly at what point did the fact that you are the paying party in a business relationship transmute you into the *employer* of the other party? I've always assumed that if you get hired for a job, minimum competence is the least you can expect. Incompetence means filing a complaint with a boss. Fine. But just because you slid seven bucks across a counter does not give you the right to rag on the kid making your burger. Nor does it give you the right to treat the waitress like scum because she relies on *gasp* TIPS to survive.

Has anyone else experienced this assumption in your life? If you're in a service-related job, what is your take on this phenomenon?

I've had many people (customers) try to tell me how to do my job. Generally, I'm polite to them, but there have been cases that I've been surly.

One example - When I worked at Subway, I had someone telling me exactly how to slice the bread, then exactly how to fold the meat and cheese on to the bread. Then they said, "Put only one squirt of mayo, no, don't squeeze that hard on the tube, oh, that's going to be too much!". I wiped some off. If the bread, and the meat, and the cheese, and the mayo wasn't enough, they also got upset about the tomatoes.

"Five tomatoes! You must put on five tomatoes! You only gave me four!"

Then, this guy started in on the amount of pickles. There were two other people waiting, and they were getting pissed at this guy for taking so long. I lost it. It was late, I was cranky, and I wasn't going to take any more.

So, I said "Look buddy, if you wanted this sandwich made a specific way, why didn't you go to the store, buy bread and meat, and make it yourself?". He just stared at me dumbly. That dumb stare made it worse. I got even more testy and said, "If you want, I'll give you my apron and you can come back here and make it yourself since I obviously can't get it right. You can make the sandwiches for the other people in line too if you want."

He got all pissed off and yelled something incoherent, then walked out. I deposited his sandwich in the trash can, and asked the next customer what they wanted.

While this is a funny story, if you want to keep your job, you should not follow my example. In this case, I already had another job lined up and I wasn't too worried about being fired since I had given my notice a week before. Generally though, being surly to a customer, even if they deserve it, isn't a good career move. Most customers will complain to your boss, and you'll end up reprimanded or fired.

It sucks to be told how to do your job, especially by someone who wants you to help them. The only thing you can do most of the time is shut up and deal with it. If you can't handle customers, you shouldn't be in customer service.

I was working at the last squadron that I was at when this happened. It was a happy day, the sun was shining, birds were staying well clear of the flight line because of the aircraft turning there so the sparrows were chirping away on the other side of the parking lot. Kind of wandering around on the flight line as a troubleshooter I am waiting for something to do, (your tax dollars at work here, as usual.) Something comes in the form of one of the plane captains in front of one of our aircraft waving frantically at someone.

I sort of look over, bobbing my head slightly to the background happiness being dispensed by Type O Negative, and notice that the plane captain is waving at me. This is confirmed by my looking behind me, pointing at myself and pointing at everyone around me until I get a big yes nodded at my direction. Grand, get to go and do something now. I wander over and make motions indicating that I want to wander into the rotor arc, I get waved in and walk toward the turning helicopter. Climbing into the cabin I notice the aircrewman shaking his head and pointing forward with a hand encased in green Nomex. This does not bode well. As I hunch over and make my way between the avionics racks it suddenly occurs to me that this is the aircraft being rented out for the day to a certain high ranking officer going through a refresher course. There is a sudden sinking suspicion that whatever I am about to encounter I am not going to like it in the least.

When I arrive a half-second later at the back of the cockpit and lean over the center console I notice the red warning light. I know why this light is there, I jack into the ICS and ask the HAC, (the high ranking officer and Helicopter Aircraft Commander,) what the problem is, which goes something along these lines:
"Yeah, we've got an IFF fail here."
"Hmm." Yurei flips a switch on the center console, extinguishing the light on the box. "There you go sir, anything else?"
"Son, what the hell do you think you're doing?" Flips switch back up, failure light goes back on about as quickly as Yurei realizes what it is that is going on here. This man is a student pilot at the moment and is going to make stupid student pilot mistakes. "This switch does not go there. We fly in LAMPS with that switch in the position that it is in right now. I thought I asked for an avionics tech."
"I am an avionics tech, sir." Yurei says with some reservation.
"Well, you know then that we don't fly with that switch there then, right?" The officer asks.
"Uhh sir, I don't mean to be impertinent but, the thing of it is if you don't have that switch in OUT then the fail light goes on." Attempting to be meek is doing nothing helpful. Mainly this is accomplishing not getting Yurei sent to talk to the Old Man and subsequently busted down. "This aircraft doesn't have the equipment installed to support that mode of operation. Furthermore I cannot install it due to type model compatibility."
"Do you know what you're doing?"

The somewhat crappy thing about being stuck in a situation like this is that you are legally required to happily smile and tolerate this sort of lunacy. The end argument to being in the military and dealing with a customer service type job is that no matter how bad it is, no matter how moronic the people you worked for: You asked for it, whether you knew at the time you signed the papers or not.

(However, I can report that due to this incident I was moved to mid-check as the supervisor and spent the next two years working in the middle of the night. Ahh, blessed silence.)

Some of you already know how I used to work at that wonderful haven called Wal-Mart. The best customers in the world shop there.

Anyone who enjoys shopping knows that here in the United States the day after Thanksgiving is known as the biggest shopping day of the year. People think they are saving money and getting wonderful deals, but that is another node.

Being a co-manager of the electronics department won me the opportunity to work the opening that morning. We were the only twenty-four hour store in the area, but we had closed for the previous holiday. At about 4 A.M. people had started forming up at the entrance to the store. You see, Wal-Mart has a six hour special they like to call a blitz where certain items throughout the store are "marked down" during that time. (Like I said, that is another node.) Ever seen a stampede of people?

Fighting, tearing, biting, and cross checks with shopping carts.

As the doctor said in The Bridge on the River Kwai: madness!

The electronics department was in the center of the store. It was crowded with so many people I just picked a spot and stood there. A man in a wheelchair came up to me. However he did it must have been an act of God. Anyway he began to ask about some computers we had on sale.

After five to ten minutes of having a good conversation with him I felt a tapping on my shoulder. There was an elderly gentleman (I give him at least that respect.) standing there and he preceded to have a conversation with me:

e.g. (elderly gent): How much are your keyboards?

me: I'm sorry. I was talking with this gentleman here in this wheelchair.

I turn away.

More tapping.

e.g.: How much are your keyboards?

me: I'm sorry, sir. Please wait. I'm talking with this gentleman. If you bring me the item your asking about I can scan it for you and tell you the price.

I had what is called in Wal-Mart speak a 960 or telxon. It's sort of a PDA that links with the store database and let's you perform various inventory functions. It can be easily hacked. (Once again, another node.)

e.g.: Say that again. (A command. Not a question.)

I tell him the same thing.

e.g.: You can kiss my ass! I ain't gotta bring you nuttin'!

The e.g. turns and tries to walk out stumbling into people and cart in the process. I turn back to the man in the wheelchair. Surprisingly, he's still there. He's got a smirk on his face.

Vietnam Vet - a.k.a One Cool Customer: What an arrogant ass! Hey, I'm on the internet committee out at the vet's home. I was just going to buy one computer, but I'll take five.


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