Not infrequently, I’ll talk to a customer service rep, or a fast food worker, or someone similarly employed in the service industry, and they’ll thank me for being nice to them. It always makes me a little uncomfortable, because they should not have to thank the customers for treating them like human beings. But I understand it. I work in a call center, and I spend most of the day with people either yelling at me or weeping down my neck. I go into work with a stomach ache or shaky hands most days.
It’s such a relief when someone is nice.
And I understand the power setup. The oppressed kick downward, as Blackadder explained to Baldrick (“I kick the dog, who bites the cat, who scratches the mouse, who bites you, since you are the lowest thing on God’s earth”). Customers are upset about their bills, so they take it out on the reps, who are powerless to do anything about it. There’s no Gus to turn loose on bothersome customers, like in the Los Pollos Hermanos training videos.
And, despite how we all like to fantasize about doing with the credit card numbers and other information we have at our disposal, we’re too nice (or need the job too much) to actually act on it. But it gives us something to draw on for that smiling customer service.
So, customers… take a leaf from our book. When you’re angry about something instead of biting off your barista’s head because the cream is too rich, do what we do. Go home and scream into a pillow. Stab a tomato. Write a story about the person who slighted you having to live with their offense in Purgatory, or take up kickboxing.
Be nice to your rep/barista/clerk. Don’t make them want to weep from happiness when they get a thank you. We’ll all be better off for it.