In one of my favorite movies, Mean Girls, I picked up a term I am forever using...word vomit. A term used to describe the feeling when you can no longer hold something in and you vomit out the thoughts in your head in a never-ending-spew-of-words. We've all had these moments, yes? And for the more fortunate of us, we have the person who hears us out when we need to spew. I've been known to call someone and start the conversation pre-greeting with, ' I just need to vent' or 'can I word vomit?'.
Now controlled spewing to a good friend is totally different then when you're caught off guard by the overwhelming need for this while dealing with say, incompetent or out of line customer service representatives. So lets talk about that for a moment. I try to always be polite and well spoken when trying to handle issues. I don't accuse or demand, I just try to present the facts and politely request the course of action I deem appropriate. Whether a return at a department store, an error in an order I made online, or one of my utility companies. Their behavior, however, often tempts my inner Mean Girl to come out in full force!
Last week, this very thing happened. One of my utility companies and I had a misunderstanding that resulted in some frustrations on both our parts. I called in, patiently waited on hold, and explained the issues. The customer service rep (who was clearly in the wrong job for her sparkingly personality) proceeded to tell me in plain English that it was 'all my fault'. My fault? I am the customer and therefore should be right even when wrong. My training from working at Coach has taught me this well. In customer service you never accuse the customer. Never.
So rules aside, the damage was done. My inner Mean Girl was clawing her way to the surface by now. I elbowed her down and calmly responded to the rep who was raising her voice with me that I in no way meant to offend her or her company and would only like to resolve the present issues. Another five minute into the conversation I was irate. I don't mind owning some responsibility in misunderstandings, but being accused over and over of being at fault in something that was clearly not my fault was more than I could handle.
My coworkers and I joke because I once told a customer service rep in college that I would 'haunt them' until they fixed the problem. So I'm known to be more than a bit scary when necessary to accomplish my goal. However, I do always, always, always try to be civil first. If being lady-like fails me the fangs do occasionally come out. In this case the woman was condescending enough to insult my intellect and ability to perform their instructions properly, which was not the cause of the problems nor an accurate statement. But while my inner 'Katy Harron' was begging to respond with a snide remark about the differences in her intellect and mine, I was struck with the idea that this was the perfect opportunity to extend grace.
Now, I've come a long way in the last few years with this whole patience and grace thing. But I admittedly have a long way to go because once I hit my boiling point, IF I manage to extend any grace it's always a bit begrudgedly. Progress though, is that I extend it even when I don't want too. AND I like to think that after practicing some restraint with my tongue, it may get easier in time.
The sometimes sad part about life is that it isn't fair. Sometimes you have to pay fees you shouldn't really owe to people who stink at their job and ruin your day. And while you may secretly (or not so secretly) want to punch them in the throat, adult life often includes swallowing your wounded pride and cutting your losses. If you're like me, you may throw in the 'I'll pay this to resolve the conflict but I still believe you are doing the wrong thing here' so you can sleep at night knowing that perhaps they may later feel bad about purposefully wronging you and cheating you out of your money.
Rounds one & two may have gone to 'Patty Positive' of the customer service line, but don't count me out just yet. Come to find out, a darling coworker of mine happens to know the head of the company and volunteered to pleed my case to him and try to get these crazy, random, unlabeled fees removed from my bill. After she chats with him, things may just get resolved properly after all.
Here's to all my free spirited, wild women who are trying to tame their inner Mean Girl. I feel your growing pains. I adore you. We are kindred spirits. Oh, and you can always word vomit to me.