In big business, trapped in the crevice between the actual employee and the customer, there's a class that fits neither description. The lowest echelon in grotesquely big corporations usually consist of disposable employees with little to no interest in how much money Mothercorp will rake in next year with her hungry, clawing fingers. Incidentally, these people are also the ones who deal with the most precious asset of a company, the customers on a daily basis.

So, how does a company keep and make more customers when their ambassadors have the least to lose by offending them? Treat the customer service people as customers themselves. Assault them with the same sound and fury spoon-fed to consumers in every advertisement until their ears ring and your logo sparkles in their eyes. Like a dictator who imbues his soldiers with righteous patriotism and sends them out to dice people up, the corporations do their best to insure that their little people believe in the righteous goodness of their employers.

Some companies start this before the hapless victim is even hired. You may have noticed pamphlets or other materials in fast food restaurants that say things like, "Join our Team!" with pictures of shiny, happy people in their uniforms, beckoning you with their wide, pearly smiles to come work there and have as much fun as they're having. (Oddly enough, the scene behind the counter never really looks like this.)

I recently spent a few months serving at Red Lobster (or, as another server called it, the McDonald's of seafood). Their training program is extensive and fraught with propaganda in the form of videos, pamphlets, and verbal assault. The printed materials and videos are nothing more than advertisements, made with all the same techniques, flare and buzzwords as usual, but with a different demographic, the employees. They have a collection of "core values" which they call "the Compass", basically an entire advertising campaign for the employees in which eight different words are highlighted as what you're supposed to strive for.

Things like this were driven into every aspect of work there, hammered into our heads. We'd refer to these things as being "compassy". Every morning, at opening, they have, "Lobster Talk" a small meeting in which the manager discloses the "feature" drinks, appetizers, and desserts or add ons, as they're called. These are also printed on little slips of paper, also called "Lobster Talks" for every server to carry around with them as you're supposed to "suggest" them to the "guests". The slips also have excerpts from "the Compass" on the bottom, like banner ads except there's nowhere to click. Compassy words were slathered all over the binder in which our schedules were kept. The sections in the restaurant were also made from the eight "sacred words" of "the compass" so we had to constantly refer to them:

"What section are you in tonight?"

"Oh. I'm in 'caring'."

"Lucky you, I'm in 'quality' tonight. I like 'caring' better."

Every week, the managers would print up a list illustrating the percentage of addons sold by each server per customer (oh wait, sorry. They're not customers, they're "guests") and post it on the wall. Since the numbers are all side by side, it was presumably an attempt to inspire competition among the servers to get them to sell more. Sometimes, just after it had been printed, the manager would stand by the kitchen exit to harass or congratulate servers with extreme numbers in either direction. They did everything aside from bludgeoning us repeatedly with the live lobster and screaming, "SELL! SELL! SELL!

The conditioning lingo even made it's way into their disciplinary actions. The write-ups were speckled with "compassy" nonsense like, "----'s continual mistakes are comprimising the hospitality our guests can taste." Much to the discontent of the manager who issued it, I laughed out loud upon discovering this as I read my first write-up.

I liked the work and the money was great, but I soon grew weary of being treated like an outsider by the very company that employed me, not to mention having a general manager who knew next-to-nothing about how to deal with people and couldn't manage a tool shed. So I 86'd myself and got a job at a privately-owned restaurant where the bullshit is shallower and I'm not a target for brainwashing.

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