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Some People Just Aren’t Meant To Deal With Customers

, , , , | Working | July 3, 2021

The municipal waste centre in my town is cramped. There is only space for about four cars to offload waste. I park directly in the entrance because it is the only place I can stop. I start offloading my waste.

A worker comes up and says something incoherent about parking. I ignore him. There are several people unloading and chaotically parked.

Worker #1: “You’re blocking other cars!”

Again, he isn’t looking at anyone in particular. He’s just shouting across a busy depot, where no-one is parked properly.

Me: “Who?”

Worker #1: “You!”

By now, the three cars in front of me have vacated the car park. I move my car forward and park as best I can. I approach him.

Me: “May I help you?”

Worker #1: “You can’t stop in the entrance like that!”

Me: “Where would you have preferred I go? It was taking me one minute to offload, and I moved forward as soon as the car in front did.”

Worker #1: “You don’t park there, all right?”

He sighs heavily like he is dealing with a spoilt child. I have had it with his attitude.

Me: “Are you the boss here?”

Worker #1: “Yes.”

Me: “Have you a higher-up I could have a word with?”

Worker #1: “I am the boss!”

Me: “Doesn’t answer my question, mate.”

Worker: “[Town five miles away, where the main depot is located].”

Me: “Have you a name of someone I can speak to?”

He wordlessly marches into his tiny office, writes something down, and hands me a piece of paper. He then pushes past me out of the office. He’s given me a name and telephone number, which I call. There is no answer.

I decide it is worth driving five miles to [Town] to complain. Staff at [Site #1] work alone, so they need to be excellent at dealing with people, including those far more difficult than me. [Town] has a much bigger depot with lots of staff.

Me: “Hey, is there a manager I could speak to for two minutes?”

Worker #2: “Sure, what’s it about?”

Me: “One of your colleagues was less than diplomatic with me.”

Worker #2: *On radio* “Hey, boss, a fella here says one of us was rude. Are you available?” *To me* “He’ll be out now.”

A man in a suit appears.

Boss: “How can I help you?”

Me: “Hi, I’m [My Name]. You might need to talk to the bloke on shift today at [Site #1]. Doesn’t respect personal space, he’s been impolite, can’t understand another’s perspective…”

Boss: “Why? What happened?”

I recall the story.

Me: “You can’t expect to shout across seven people like that and be understood. He’s also got to understand that people will get different ideas about where to park. That depot is very cramped and busy. I imagine staff here might get away with that attitude, sometimes. At least they have backup. To work by yourself, you need far better interpersonal skills than he showed to me.”

Boss: “I’m sorry for how he spoke to you, and thank you for coming all the way out here to raise that with us. Do you have the slip of paper he wrote on?”

Me: “Yes, here you go.”

Boss: *Reading* “[Worker #3]? You asked for his manager’s name and he wrote this down?”

Me: “Yes?”

Boss: “You’re kidding.”

Me: “No?”

Boss: “[Worker #3] isn’t his manager; I am his manager! That’s just another worker!”