Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When It's Okay to Complain

Everybody has ordered dinner from a grouchy server, dealt with a rude sales clerk, and talked to any number of snarly and unhelpful medical office personnel over the telephone. (Would someone please tell me why people - always women - who work in doctors' offices are so awful?) Unpleasant people in each and every form of customer service are, if not the norm, at least an ever-present reality in daily life. 

Terrible customer service: is it
the norm? 
When someone mistreats me, I inevitably go to the land of "This person is probably supporting a family, and while her behavior has been bad, I do not feel it merits putting her job in jeopardy." And I say nothing and go on my way, however unmerrily. 

But when is it just to complain about the poor service or treatment you have received at the hands of an employee? 

I believe that when this treatment surpasses inconvenience and unhelpfulness and moves into the realm of meanness, hurtfulness, or dishonesty, an individual is more than justified in complaining. 

An example: Yesterday, I participated in a mandatory Blackboard re-certification training on campus from 1:00-4:00 p.m. I arrived exactly 15 minutes late, quietly apologizing as I came in, explaining that I had gone to the wrong building. In front of 11 other participants, the "teacher" for this workshop (can I say "imbecile running the show"?) said, in all seriousness, "Glad you finally decided to show up." 


Listen, I wanted to say to him, I'm an adult, I'm apologetic, and I'm not all that late given the fact that this workshop is three hours long. I'm here now, so let's not have a fit and act like we're five years old. Of course, what I did instead was bow my head and shuffle to the open computer. 

Further, this teacher never gave me the materials he'd already handed out - not even during the break - and when my computer wasn't working b/c the internet was crashing left and right for everyone all afternoon, he did not even make a gesture to help me even though I was 4 feet from him. In short, the environment he created in his classroom was neither welcoming nor comfortable. 

(As a teacher, I can tell you that students are late, people go to the wrong building, they forget things, they don't do what you want them to do. Stuff happens. And if you can't deal with this sort of business on a pretty much daily basis, you shouldn't be teaching people.) 

This instructor's behavior is something that I cannot overlook. Why? B/c it goes beyond simple rudeness to belittling. B/c it seeks to embarrass and succeeds in doing so. B/c it is not an acceptable way to treat a colleague. In short, b/c it is neither how a teacher nor how a professional conducts himself. 

And this guy's just an awful representative of his department and my university.

Look, I waited tables for many summers - I know how annoying, demanding, and downright rude people can be. But I also know that when you're at work, you need to turn off the personal crap and do the job you're there to do - if not with a smile, then at least minus the smirk. I did this many, many times each summer (and still got a lot of lousy tips).

The point is, not every crappy waitress is having a bad day. But even if she is, she doesn't have the right to turn her bad day into your bad day. Which is precisely what this guy did yesterday - and why, when I fill out his evaluation, my comments will be honest, no matter how unflattering. 

1 comment:

  1. My late granny would occasionally tell my father, her son, to, “Get your ass off your shoulders, boy!” whenever he started acting up.

    Yes, I agree with you. Be truthful in your evaluation.