In my first real job after college, I was a customer service rep for a GE Capital company, and I gotta tell you, I really, really sucked at it. I’m just not the service-y type, I suppose.
That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the fine art of customer service. I do. You know why? Because I think it’s SO hard to find the exact spot one must occupy in order to provide top-notch service.
It’s an itty-bitty, little place. One that’s sandwiched between “matter-of-factly uninterested” (the spot I used to occupy) and “pathologically polite.” And the pathologically polite spot is a rotten, horrible spot, indeed.
For this is the place from which the overly service-y service providers commit their inadvertent trespasses. And, I’m here to tell you – few things bother me more than this offense – inadvertent or not. Gimme the jaded 26-year-old, incessantly texting chick over the pathologically polite guy any day of the week.
Maybe it’s because I’m the father of five, and as such, am prone to cutting to the chase out of sheer necessity. After all, we have our fair share of drama at the ol’ homestead – so much that we can’t afford to go all Skip, skip, skip to my Lou 24/7. (No. I’m not quite sure what that meant, either, but you get the gist, right?)
Sometimes the best policy is to just get good, and get on with it. Solve the problem, but not dwell within the solution. For there will be other problems to solve. No need to shoot our wad on just that one.
And that’s what I feel like when I’m the victim of an overly service-y service provider. That they’re shooting their wad on just me when there are all these other people they’ll need to help long after I’m gone.
Which, when you think about it, is kind of an altruistic critique of the overly service-y service provider. I worry he won’t be able to deliver the same brand of service to the other patrons.
But fear not — I have a petty critique as well.
He bugs the shit out of me.
This is the part where I tell you that I’ve been going to the same place to get coffee and a bagel on my way to the office every single day for over a year. And that I love this place, largely for its coffee. The bagels are fine, but it’s the coffee that keeps me coming back. This despite the fact that the man who usually rings me up has been teetering dangerously close to that pathologically-polite territory for quite sometime.
And, as of a month ago, I’m afraid he’s crossed into it altogether. And I knew it when he started predicting my order.
From the drive through.
Turns out he can see my car as it pulls in from the street, so now, every morning when I drive up to the speaker, I’m told what I want, with a “right, buddy?” attached at the end.
Here’s the deal: my order will never, ever change. (I’m super steady like that.) But I still wanna be the one to place it. When someone places it for me, it’s… awkward.
But nowhere near as awkward as the increasingly personalized chit-chats that have been going down at the window since the dude at the coffee shop began channeling his inner Nostradamus. We’ve gone well beyond the weather, my friends. Far passed How’s it going? and Big game this weekend.
And because I’m not quick to offer up personal details of myself, I’m instead learning all about this guy. And his dog. A Dachshund named Larry. And his hobbies, too. (He’s into Sudoku puzzles. I’m assuming he completes them with Larry right there in his lap.)
All this, of course, reduces me to an unwilling participant in a largely one-sided conversation, left to do the grinning and nodding such conversations warrant — obliged to add the occasional courtesy laugh when I see fit, all as I wait patiently for the order I was told I’d be placing.
If doing so wouldn’t make me the biggest dick EVER, I swear, I’d say the following:
Listen, bro — I’m looking for a garden-variety coffee/bagel transaction here – not a fucking bestie. You got that?
Ever since the overly service-y business began, I’ve contemplated blowing up my entire morning routine in order to avoid these unwanted and awkward impasses. But I haven’t been able to pull the trigger just yet. But I have a feeling all that’s about the change. Because earlier this week, my “friend” at the coffee window started calling me a pet name of sorts. He’s now regularly busting out a moniker to which he’s apparently committed. Something he believes to be a term of endearment, I’m certain, though one that’s anything but endearing.
Nostradamus is now calling me: big fella.
I’m five feet seven inches y’all. And I weigh a buck sixty. Soaking wet.
So to be called big fella is downright patronizing. Seriously, I’d rather him call me wee man. The whole deal’s deteriorated into an impossibly bad joke.
But not one I’ll be tolerating for much longer. Because I’ve decided to leave Nostradamus and his tales of Larry the Dachshund behind. It’s just a matter of time before I pick my new place and make the switch official.
And once I do, I gotta figure out how to keep whoever works there at arm’s length.
Have you ever fallen pray to the overly-service-y type? (Or am I just a dick?)