Welcome To Not Always Right, [New Hire]!

, , , | Working | January 12, 2021

I’m training a new employee in a side-by-side where he sits next to me and looks at the screen at what I’m doing while listening in on the call with a second headset. I’m a middle-aged woman with lots of experience in customer services and as a trainer. My trainee is a young man just starting his first job.

I’ve just deescalated a very angry customer and fulfilled his request.

Me: “Thank you for your business and have a great weekend!” *Click*

New Hire: “Wow, that sounded so sincere! As if you really meant it!”

Me: “That’s probably because I meant it.”

New Hire: “But he was so rude!”

Me: “He wasn’t rude, though. Just angry. And rightfully so. Had I been double charged and then dealt with like this, I’d be angry, too.”

New Hire: “But still he could have been friendlier! He was so unfriendly and curt. He should… I don’t know. He should care more for you. That was a lot you had to do and it was so complicated to sort out.”

Me: “Why should he? As far as he knows, I’m paid to do this job. And my job is to take calls of people who have issues with us. I’m here to take care of them and not the other way around. Besides, that was a huge mess-up from our side and it’s the fourth time he had to call to sort that out; for that, he was still very friendly and patient.”

The customer was indeed very friendly, although curt and rightfully angry.

New Hire: “Well, I still found him to be very rude! He accused you of lying when you told him everything was sorted now.”

Me: “No, he didn’t accuse me of lying. He just asked for written confirmation because he’s been told three times already that the issue had been sorted and still got an invoice.”

New Hire: “I don’t see how that’s not rude. He still didn’t believe you, and you even gave him a gift card! I’d never given him a gift card after that.”

I shrug and let it go. It doesn’t seem worth the effort. It’s clear he doesn’t get it. The customer had a serious complaint and had to call repeatedly to get it solved even though it should have been a one-click issue. I felt he deserved a gift card. I take the next call, hoping I’ll get a really rude customer to show the new hire the difference and that he’ll understand then why I didn’t think the other customer was rude.

I promptly get my wish fulfilled. The next customer comes in yelling over my greeting already. She’s totally outraged at something and it’s a hassle to just get her to confirm her data to get up her account.

Then, it turns out the thing she’s so outraged about is a billing difference of just 5€. After a price check, I confirm she’s right. She has indeed been overcharged 5€ on her 650€ order. I apologize, correct the overcharge, and send her a corrected bill. She screeches about my incompetence, the incompetence of the company as a whole, and my family’s incompetence the whole time. But I bring this to an end and even manage to distract her from asking for a manager. She demands all kinds of things, all of which I turn down.

Me: “I’m sorry for your inconvenience. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Have a great weekend.” *Click*

The new trainee sits next to me completely stunned.

New Hire: “Wow.”

Me: “Well, yes. That was one rude customer. Any questions?”

New Hire: “How could you stay so calm? How could you let her say all this to you?”

Me: “Oh, that’s easy. I don’t care about her. I don’t care about any of them, really.”

The new hire looks at me as if I’ve grown a second head and I feel the urge to explain some more.

Me: “You see, I don’t care much for people in general. I’m not interested in their feelings, I don’t care for their opinions, and it doesn’t matter to me at all how they behave. If they’re too loud, I turn the volume at my headset down. All I care for is getting through the day as smoothly as possible, going home, and getting my money. The easiest way to achieve that is by doing everything strictly by the book. Follow the script to a T. Don’t get involved. Don’t believe anything you can’t see in the system.

“If there’s something wrong, correct it. If there isn’t, let them know as gently as possible. Stay firm and don’t get involved in discussions or try to dispute opinions; those people are not worth your time or thoughts more than necessary.

“Regarding gift cards and courtesies: here’s the guideline. Just do what it says; it gives a very good lead to keep good customers happy by compensating our faults and drive scammers away who don’t get any. Don’t try doing favours to bad customers to make them like you. They won’t. Don’t try to punish customers you don’t like, either. They’ll only call again and hassle a colleague.”

New Hire: “…”

Me: “Don’t forget, those people haven’t called you and they don’t talk to you, either. So don’t behave as if they do.”

New Hire: “Well, with whom do they think they’re speaking, then?”

Me: “The company, of course. It’s their number they’ve called. If you’re lucky, they realize during the call that you’re a real person. And you have a little wiggle room when it comes to compensation and I tell you, it’s very satisfying to use that on customers like the man we had first and give them the next higher gift card for being still so friendly. But in the end, if you really want this job, you need to separate yourself from it. Stop caring what a total stranger has to say about a person they don’t even acknowledge.”

New Hire: “So… just do the job it is, then.”

Me: “Right. Just do what you’re paid for and do it to your best ability. You’re paid for taking calls, analysing issues, compensating if needed, and following the guidelines. That is why I can honestly say, ‘Thank you for your call,’ even to nasty people. It’s my job. I don’t get paid to get angry or care for their opinions. So why bother? As long as other people mess up and those customers call, I’ve got a job and get paid.

“Besides, didn’t you hear that woman getting all agitated when she couldn’t get a reaction out of me? Wasn’t that funny? How she howled and b****ed and I still told her no? It was so obvious she wanted me to shrivel and snivel in front of her and she didn’t get it!”

The new hire laughs a little and looks at me in a different way.

New Hire: “Yeah, I guess you’re right. They definitely don’t pay enough for us to be therapists for anger management.”

After that, he listened less to how the customers talked to me but started concentrating on what issues they had and how to solve them. We made very good progress that day, and the next day, I let him take the calls and assisted him with the tasks from the side. He was very good and finished his training much faster than expected. We still work together and I’m very proud of him since he has become one of our best workers.

It’s hard not to care about the nasty customers, but if the new hires can get the knack of it, they often find that the job can be quite funny, too, and that it has its benefits.


This story is part of our Best Of January 2021 roundup!

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I’ve Lost My Appetite, Thanks

, , , , , , | Working | January 4, 2021

We’ve got a new member of our team: a girl who is fresh out of high school. Nerdy and cheerful, she’s rapidly become a popular member of the workplace. She’s asked us when all our birthdays are and volunteered to personally bake birthday cakes for everyone.

It’s at the end of the day on Friday. Everyone is packing up and preparing to go home. [New Girl] goes up to a coworker of ours.

New Girl: “Hi, [Coworker]. Your birthday is on Monday. What type of birthday cake would you like?”

Coworker: “What do you have?”

New Girl: “I can make any type of cake: the usuals like red velvet or chocolate, or more exotic flavours like Pandan or orange. If you don’t like cake, I can make a jelly cake, or bake bread or pies.”

Coworker: *Leers* “Ooh, pies. Can I have a creampie?”

All of us swivel our heads and stare at him with “WTF?!” looks plastered on our faces. We expected him to be slapped, but [New Girl] just continues on.

New Girl: *Writing on a notepad* “Yeah, I can give you a cream pie. You like them?”

Coworker: *Leers even more* “Yup, I just love popping cherries and creampies.”

Again, she doesn’t slap him. In fact, her expression doesn’t even move anywhere near disgust. With dawning horror, we now realise just how innocent and naive she is.

New Girl: “Okay. Popping cherries. Never tried that before but that can be arranged.”

She snaps her notebook shut, waves us all goodbye, and walks out the front door. As soon as she leaves, we all start shouting at [Coworker].

Me: “What the f*** were you thinking? She’s seventeen!”

Manager: “Don’t corrupt the new girl! That innocence must be preserved!”

Coworker #2: “You sick, perverted a**hole! You’d better get your mind out of the gutter right now!”

Cleaner: “She’s young enough to be your daughter! Heck, she’s younger than my granddaughter!”

We spend almost an hour screaming at our coworker, but he is adamant that there is no teenager alive that would have missed all the connotations.

On Monday:

New Girl: *Holding out a pie box* “Happy birthday, [Coworker]! Here’s your popped cherry cream pie. I hope you enjoy it!”

Yeah, she was just that innocent.

None of us could find the heart in us to ruin her innocence. We voted, and in the end, [Cleaner], a kindly old woman, sat her down and gave her The Talk about men and young women. [New Girl] lost all her cheerfulness and absolutely distrusted men after that, [Coworker] especially.

The workplace was never the same again.

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We Keep It Next To The Board Stretcher

, , , , , | Working | December 24, 2020

My father served in the US Navy on aircraft carriers; he was part of the air wing. He told me about one of the gags “old salts” would pull on newcomers.

Old Salt: “Go get the left-handed monkey wrench back from [Other Old Salt who is in on the joke]. He’s working in [somewhere else on the carrier].”

Of course, no such tool exists. Carriers are huge and newcomers often get lost. The poor newbie would go from location to location asking for the wrench and get told that it had been borrowed by someone else to use somewhere else in the ship. They’d run him all over the ship for hours until he either caught on or someone took pity on him and told him.

Now, that’s hazing. But at least they got some exercise and learned their way around the ship.

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Training You For Mediocrity

, , , , , | Working | November 17, 2020

When I am around nineteen years old, I start my first job as an apprentice. I am extremely shy and don’t stand up for myself. I was born in England but my parents are Pakistani.

As this is my first job, I don’t really see the red flags straight away. Firstly, the apprenticeship itself is advertised incorrectly, which I find out when I start working there. My job role is presented like admin/business work according to the job spec, but I end up being a full-time post room assistant. I am very enthusiastic.

Me: “What will we be doing when the post has gone out to the relevant departments?”

Team Leader: “Wait for it to come back.”

Me: “Well, yeah, I get that, but what about the other stuff?”

Team Leader: “Nope, wait for it to get back.”

That was just the first day.

After that, I never really saw my team leader. She told me she was my manager. My colleagues were all over fifty and were a very tight-knit group. I was the youngest person in the whole building and the only Pakistani. I had a colleague who did the same job but was getting paid double as she was the favourite; she also claimed to be my supervisor. She was the youngest of her group and actually POUTED and threw a tantrum that I was the youngest and she wasn’t anymore. She reminded me of this all the time.

Whenever I asked for more training for my apprenticeship and my college tutor asked me to do more stuff to complete the apprenticeship, both the team leader and “supervisor” would remind me that it was not part of my job role. I stayed quiet as I did not want to upset anyone.

As an apprentice, we had two hours per day to complete the assigned theory work. During this time, my “supervisor” would remind me that the afternoon post was back and that I needed to sort it. Every time, I reminded her of this, she would go to complain to the team leader. In the end, I ended up completing the work at home. I also informed my college tutor of this.

This had an effect on my mental health and I ended up going home crying on most days. I would call in sick as I couldn’t hack another day of working with these colleagues and was planning on quitting. My mum reminded me that as I was working for a good company, a better opportunity would come along.

At the end of the apprenticeship, I was told by my manager that they needed to extend the apprenticeship as I had not completed all my work. Around the same time, we had a new colleague a year younger than me who was a white male. His father was the head of the finance department. He was shown all the ropes and quickly became the favourite. He would sit around the office whilst I completed all the tasks and would use the excuse of training. The team leader and “supervisor” would always back him up.

I then went to Pakistan to get married and took a month’s leave. I also wanted to relax and have some me-time. Both my team leader and colleague asked me if I would be coming back to work after the leave. I found this odd but said yes. The last week before my leave, I was again reminded to come back. I asked another colleague why this was and she told me that a previous colleague went to India to get married and kept giving sick notes but they believed she had quit. This was ten years before I started working there, but I was compared to her because she was Asian, as well.

The final straw was after I came back. The first thing I got was, “We have so much work saved for you! I’m so glad you came back; we had another apprentice lined up in case you didn’t come back.”

I then applied for another job in the same company straightaway and surprisingly got the job. It is a customer service job where I deal with people all day. My team leaders and managers are all really nice and much more diverse than my last colleagues. I am so glad I stuck with it because I am in a much better place and enjoy my job.

My mum really gave me the best advice. I have come out of my shell and am much more confident as a person. I later found out that another colleague was on the same job scale as me and had been asking for a pay rise. She quit after FIFTEEN YEARS!

I’m glad I got out of there. The new male colleague is still there and keeps complaining about how much work he needs to do. The team leader and “supervisor” took early retirement due to job stress. I guess that’s Karma.

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He’s Actually Biding His Time Until Prison

, , , , , , | Legal | November 16, 2020

After I graduated from university, I worked for a while in the food section of a city centre department store. The store had a customer collect-by-car point, meaning that customers’ food was kept in a walk-in fridge so they could leave it with us while they went shopping elsewhere in the city. The store hired a security guard to mind the collection point, while a store employee worked inside. The store hired a young man who was about to go to university to work inside of the collection point, while the security guard was a retired policeman. The security guard was a very pleasant man; the young man was an entitled so-and-so.

Young Man: *Smugly* “You know I’m only doing this until I start Uni.”

Soon after the young man began work, things started to go missing from customers’ bags. We knew they had, because of course, the customers had receipts that listed all the items. The young man was the only one who really could have taken them, but the store lacked evidence. So, someone talked to the security guard, and within a day he had caught the young man red-handed, and the young man had been fired.

Security Guard: “What he didn’t realise was that I’m not just a retired policeman; I’m the retired chief detective of a major city constabulary!”

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