If You Like Piña Coladas, And Getting Caught In Small Talk

, , , , , | Right | November 1, 2018

(I live in Central America, and I work for the US branch of a famous online retailer. We’re halfway through the call and I’m waiting for some changes to go through in the customer’s account. The customer then asks me one of the most dreaded questions all off-shore customer service agents fear.)

Customer: “So, where are you located?”

Me: *groans inside and braces for the worst* “Costa Rica.”

(We’re heavily encouraged to not lie, even though a great deal of customers react negatively.)

Customer: “Oh, wow! I’ve heard a lot about Costa Rica from my friends who have been there for vacation!”

Me: *relieved* “Oh, really?”

Customer: “Yeah! They loved the beach and the jungles! Can you see the beach from where you are? I’d love to be able to watch the beach from my office. Do you guys even have computers and Internet? I’ve heard cellphones are new to you!”

(The customer then rants about huts, lack of electricity, and mosquitoes carrying deadly tropical diseases.)

Me: *laughs nervously and tries to butt in* “Sir, the changes went through. Is there anything else I can assist you with?”

Customer: “No, no! Thank you! You guys have fun. I hope to join you one of these days! Bye!” *hangs up*

(The customer must have thought I was assisting him from my private office on the second floor of a palm tree holding a banana to my ear, accessing his account on my fire-powered coconut computer and palm screen, and joining the nearest pool bar for piña coladas between calls. As sad as reality was for me, I hope the thought at least brightened his day.)

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There Was A Reason Mama Left Her With You

, , , | Learning | October 19, 2018

(I work at a kindergarten. It is the first day of class, and some kids tend to cry because they don’t want their parents to leave. One tiny four-year-old girl is in my arms, crying softly. But when we get to the classroom, she suddenly launches backwards headfirst. I barely hold on to her before she hits her head. She starts screaming like a banshee, and kicks me repeatedly, so I lay her as carefully as possible on a rug. She keeps screaming, dropping on the floor, hitting her head, leaving hundreds of scratches on her own chest, and banging her head some more against a door. I try to get her to sit on a chair, but she jumps down so hard it flips and almost impales her. If I try to talk to her, she gets even more angry. We call her family, but no one picks up. And by the end of the — short, thank God — day, she is covered of scratches and bumps, but calm and laughing. I am extremely scared that I will get in trouble, though. I explain everything to the girl’s mom when she arrives.)

Mom: *laughs and smiles* “I have five kids, and they have all been like that on the first few days of school. Don’t worry.”

(This happened for one whole month until the girl and I bonded, but my coworkers and I still remember her as Demon Spawn.)

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Speech Therapy: There’s An App For That

, , , , | Related | October 17, 2018

(I teach in a low-income area, where lots of people live around a small school designed to care for the children of working families. We make sure the kids have all their needs met and recommend extra help if we think the kids need it. We have a very important rule, though: nothing is free. We charge very little for everything, but the idea was to avoid people thinking of it as charity.)

Me: “[Student’s Mother], we have assessed that [Nephew that lives with her] and [Son] will both need urgent speech therapy. Now, we went ahead and got a fantastic therapist who is willing to come here and do it for 2000 colones each kid per week.”

(That equals about four dollars.)

Mother: “Oh, no! Can’t she do it for free? Remember, [Nephew] was born with hydrocephalus; he is special needs.”

Me: “Yes, this is exactly why we got this fantastic therapist. But this community is too far away; we need to, at least, pay for her gas money.”

Mother: “This makes me so sad… I guess we won’t be able to get them the help they need.”

(Then, she proceeded to place her newest iPhone on the table as she picked up and left. At the end, the kids did get the help they needed, but I had to actually sit with her and go through her finances so she could see where she could cut back in order to pay for therapy.)

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This Girl Has A Mouth On Her

, , , | Learning | October 15, 2018

(I work in a kindergarten. I try to switch on the light; it flickers and dies.)

Me: *to my class of four-year-olds* “Oops! Oh, no, kids! The light is sick!”

Girl: “Silly teacher, the light can not be sick.”

Me: *laughs* “Yes, you are correct.”

Girl: “Of course, because it doesn’t have a mouth.”

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Listen Here, Sugar…

, , , | Learning | September 10, 2018

(This happens during training for Customer Service Representatives at a large online store.)

Trainer: “For this exercise, I’m going to need five people.”

(I raise my hand, as do another four people.)

Trainer: “Your challenge is to make me a hot tea with the things in this kitchen. You only get ten seconds to discuss how and ten seconds to do it.”

(We discuss and quickly decide each of us gets one task. I get putting the sugar in. [Person #1] grabs a cup. [Person #2] asks about the flavor and runs for the tea. I see him go for the tea, so in the meantime I pour the sugar in. [Person #2] comes back and puts the tea bag in. [Person #3] pours the hot water. [Person #4] walks the cup over to the trainer while mixing in the sugar.)

Trainer: *looks at the rest of the class and points to me* “What did she do wrong?”

Everyone: “She put the sugar in before the tea.”

Trainer: “Exactly. That is not how you do it.”

Me: “Why? That’s how I do it at home.”

Trainer: *taken by surprise* “Because… you don’t.”

Me: “Did it not mix?”

Trainer: *smug look* “Class, what is she doing wrong now?” *no answer* “Here in [Online Store], we always do things like the customer wants it.”

Me: “So, if a customer wants his small purchase to be put in giant box with packing peanuts, but the peanuts have to be put in last… can we actually do that?”

(I know I got a little defensive, but I don’t like being singled out. And much less for something so irrational.)

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