The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Friday, February 19, 2010

How Can I Help You?



The title of this blog is a phrase that I repeat every day, all day. I am pretty much a chipper broken record. "Good morning, this is Ashton, how can I help you?" Fast forward to evening: "PrimeCare Medical Clinic, this is Ashton, how can I help you?"

I am convinced that the customer service industry is not my calling in life. Though it is a temporary fix to say...destitution and unemployment...it is not where I want to be for very much longer. I have decided that I am too sensitive to deal with rude people and it takes every fiber of my being not to retaliate with sarcastic comments; comments that are incredibly witty and appropriate if I do say so myself.

What would you say, for instance, to a beauty pageant mom whose daughter has lost her voice when she is slotted to sing in the talent competition the next day; a mom who insists that you beg the doctors to stay until 10:00 p.m. (when you close at 8) so that her dear sweet angel can finally attain a sash and crown?

"Mam, I suggest that you find an event that is of less importance, like a luncheon or tea, and bring her here then."

"Everything is of utmost importance at the Junior Miss USA pageant."

"Well, I'm sorry mam, but if we stayed open and made an exception for you, we would have to do that for everyone who wanted to come in later than our hours. That is what the ER is for. I am sorry."

"Oh, but she has worked all year for this moment. I just can't believe this is happening to my baby. Would YOU be willing to stay until 10 p.m.?"

This is where I fight the urge to go:

"A lost voice will be the least of your daughter's worries after I jab a steroid shot into her leg. Frankly, I don't even know if it goes in her leg."

"Oh, but you don't understand. The talent portion is 3/4 of the scoring."

"I figured that, mam. Especially considering the fact that a receptionist giving your daughter a shot and causing her to break out in a terrible reaction because of it does not seem to concern you. I suppose a severe body rash is the new trend in the swimsuit competition."

I finally got her to quit telling me about her "baby's" bad fortune by bidding her goodbye and wishing her daughter luck in the evening gown competition. I told her that perhaps her daughter could sing a Rod Stewart or Louis Armstrong number; perhaps the raspy voice could be disguised as imitation.

Once again, these are all things that are running through my head as I continue to be verbally abused by a woman who probably forces salad down her child's throat and wears sequins on a daily basis.

If nothing else, dealing with people has caused me to grow a little bit of a backbone; at least more of one than I had when I first started. That's progress, right?

Customer service has also improved my ability to hold my tongue, which has often carried over into my personal life as well. It has taught me to deal with difficult people, handle verbal abuse and not cry (as much) at the drop of a hat.

When I realize that these people need love and kindness just as much as those who make life easy, I realize that what I am doing is very important. People need to be given the benefit of the doubt when they are put in a stressful situation; they need someone who will not take their attitude at face value and look up at them and say, "How Can I Help You?"

...and actually mean it.

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