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Vending Some Hope For Humanity

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | March 16, 2018

The week before Christmas, my brother-in-law and his family stayed with us for a few days. They wanted to meet up with his grandmother while they were here, so we tried to think of a warm place to sit and visit with her. We decided on the lobby of one of the buildings on Temple Square, since it was near Grandma’s apartment. We also wanted to visit the Light the World vending machines in that lobby. These were five charitable vending machines that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had temporarily placed that allowed the user to choose specific donations to some organizations.

When we arrived at the lobby, we found that a local high school madrigal group was performing Christmas carols. We very much enjoyed visiting quietly on the ground floor while the choir sang in the mezzanine above. As we neared the time we had to leave for other appointments, my nieces and nephew were steered toward the vending machines to choose their gifts for the charity.

One niece chose 100 meals for the food bank. The other chose a pair of glasses for the eye-care group. As my four-year-old nephew was trying to choose his gift (he eventually chose to help the water charities), I realized the choir had stopped singing. I looked around to find that most of those teenagers had joined us at the vending machines, even having to stand in line to reach them. They had just finished their third of five concerts in various buildings on Temple Square that same day, and instead of resting or visiting the small cafe in that same lobby, they had come to spend their money on other people. No one forced them. No one was watching to make sure the money wasn’t used elsewhere. They chose to do it.

Makes you think there’s hope for the future, after all.

Working On Different Prints-iples

, , , , , | Right | February 27, 2018

(I’m the receptionist for a corporate office. Our company is primarily retail, and we have a customer service line and online chat room, yet people always try to bypass those and call me for help.)

Caller: “I’m looking for a [Popular Artist] print. I tried customer service before, and they told me they had the painting at my local store, but when I got there they were asking $500 for it! I said, ‘I don’t want to buy the whole store!’ you know? Ha ha ha! I want to find a cheaper print.”

Me: “Okay, so, you already checked with customer service?”

Caller: “Yeah, I did, but they sent me to my local store.” *he repeats the above, verbatim*

Me: “Well, I just checked our website, and it looks like there are several different-size prints in stock, so I apologize for the confusion. I’m sure customer service just misunderstood what you wanted. I’ll transfer you back to them—”

Caller: “The confusion is probably because [recently deceased Religious Leader in the area] was a hell-raiser. He probably went in and changed the website to mess with everyone.”

(He laughs as if I’m without a doubt thinking the same thing. Since I’m not sure why he thinks a religious leader would mess with a retail company’s website, and I happened to really respect said recently-deceased religious leader, I don’t laugh.)

Me: “All right, well, let me connect you back to customer service, and they can find that print for you. Or, if they say that we really don’t have it, then you can find all of [Popular Artist]’s works on his website. The web address is—”

Caller: “No, no, no. I don’t do computers.”

Me: “…”

Caller: “And I’ll tell you why! Because I didn’t have them growing up. I didn’t have them in college. I didn’t have them in 45 years of business. So, I don’t do computers. The only time I use a computer is to play solitaire, because that’s all they’re good for. I don’t do computers.”

Me: *pause* “All right, then—”

Caller: “Is there someone intelligent there that I can talk to?”

Me: *through gritted teeth* “Just let me transfer you to customer service.”

Caller: *as if he didn’t just insult me* “Thank you very much for your help, ma’am!”

(Apparently liking computers and not laughing at the expense of the dead makes me unintelligent?)

Setting Precedent For The President

, , , , , | Right | February 25, 2018

(I used to work at a call center that was contracted with a health insurance company. As you can imagine, I got a lot of “interesting” phone calls. This is probably one of the more unusual calls I ever took.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Insurance Company]. My name is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Customer: *with a thick Southern accent* “Yeah, can I please talk to the president of [Insurance Company]?”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m unable to connect you with the president of [Insurance Company].”

Customer: “Why? Is he too busy with his coffee break to speak to me? Do you even know who I am?”

Me: “Again, I’m sorry, but I have no way to transfer you to our corporate office.”

Customer: “Well, that’s just silly. Is there anyone there I can talk to?”

Me: “I would be happy to assist you today, ma’am. How can I help—”

Customer: *cutting me off* “No, I don’t want to speak to you. You’re being uncooperative. Can I talk to the president of [Insurance Company], please?”

Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way, but as I said before, customer service does not have the direct number to [Insurance Company]’s corporate office.”

Customer: “Then let me speak to your manager.”

Me: “All right, I’ll be right back with him.”

(By this point, I’m getting a little frustrated. I grab my manager, and he hooks up my headset to his headset so that I can listen to the conversation. It’s a common practice where I work to observe and listen to a manager de-escalating an issue.)

Manager: “Thanks so much for holding. My name is [Manager] and I’m [My Name]’s manager. How can I help you?”

Customer: “GET ME THE PRESIDENT OF [Insurance Company] NOW!”

Manager: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I can’t do that. I can help you with whatever you need.”

Customer: *suddenly cheery* “Oh, all right!”

(For the remainder of the phone call, the customer was cheery and cooperative. Turns out she actually had a complicated billing issue that my manager had to send to another department for resolution. We still don’t know why she was so adamant to speak to the president of the company, though.)

This Aunt Gets Around

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 20, 2018

(I work in a church. During busy times, we often take on extra shifts as hosts. That means we sometimes meet people who work completely different schedules.)

Guest Host: “Did I hear you were a missionary in California?”

Me: “Yes, in the San Fernando area.”

Guest Host: “Oh, which cities?”

Me: “Van Nuys, Sylmar, San Fernando, Palmdale…”

Guest Host: “I used to spend summers in Palmdale, working for relatives! Do you know [Man]?”

Me: “I don’t, but I was in the Spanish-speaking congregation there.”  

Guest Host: “Oh. And he speaks English.”

Me: “I have a friend from Palmdale with that last name. Is he related to [Friend]?”

Guest Host: “Yes, and I’m her aunt!”

(The next week, I mention this to another host.)

Host: “Well, I’m from California, but up by Oakland.”

Me: “Oh, my aunt lives in Piedmont, so I know that area.”

Host: “Who’s your aunt?”

Me: “[Aunt].”

Host: “She and I used to babysit each other’s children!”

(The world is sometimes extremely small.)

Thanks For Giving Celiacs A Bad Name

, , , , , , | Right | January 25, 2018

(A mother and daughter are placing an order, and they let me know that the daughter has a gluten allergy. I let them know that this is no problem, and direct them to the gluten-free items on the menu.)

Daughter: “I’d like to order the chicken flatbread, with the tomatoes and flat bread on the side.”

Me: “The flat bread is the base of the item. What do you mean by ‘on the side’?”

Daughter: “I want everything on the side, separated.”

(I explain that the flat bread is not gluten-free, and that even if we did separate the items, we could not guarantee they would be gluten-free since it’s not on the gluten-free menu.)

Mother: “Are you serious? If you can’t provide my daughter something that is gluten-free, then you’re going to have a f****** lawsuit on your hands! There will be an ambulance here to take her away to the hospital if she doesn’t have something to eat! If you can’t do this, quite frankly, someone should lose their job. Now, get this girl some food.”

(Later, the daughter came to apologize for her mother’s behavior and told me that she didn’t have a gluten allergy at all.)