Thursday, March 30, 2017

My gilded cage

There are, I'm sure, examples of this from throughout history, but it's escaping me at this moment. Nearly universally accepted good things that are looked poorly at by history. I'm sure I'd get there if I tried. Probably slavery existed in that slot at some time, although my knowledge is largely from a time when an Abolitionist Movement did exist, in varying degrees. Slavery also will certainly come across as far too strong a negative for what I'm saying.

I think the 20th Century vision of customer service that we're working with an building on is one of those things. I think companies, employees and customers as a group largely think the philosophy is sound and that different companies are working in varying ways to improve/perfect their techniques based on that philosophy, and that the vast majority of people feel that's correct and that companies are succeeding and failing at "customer service" based on how well they are able to adhere to that philosophy. Whatever that is exactly, is what I think generations down the line will view us with shame for. How society will move past it, I don't know.

It's not terrible in that same kind of way as slavery that one goes to war against. It creates jobs and feels, for the most part, like it makes people happy. So, people like it. Or like the idea anyway.

I think there's a cancer in the heart of it and people will one day come to the same realization.

But that's not a war I want to fight at this point. I just know that I need out.

Customer service is bad for me, most notably to my creativity. A lot of that is due to being worn out from being an introvert interacting with people all day, or at least a substantial portion. It's not just that, though.

Decades ago now, I worked for 7-Eleven. At that time, a plurality of the customers, or close it enough that it felt that way, were of the belief that they had to have any alcoholic beverages bagged when they left the store. So, nearly any time I would offer a bag, they'd get cross and explain to me in the most condescending way possible that I was required by law to bag their alcohol. I explained in my politest customer service tone that it had been explained to me that the law they were referring to had been repealed, but I would be happy to bag their drinks.

This, the very spiel I was provided by my employer and which caused them no difficulty, would inevitably still lead to an argument.

Over fucking nothing.

Knuckledragger Jones had to be "right" to a person who he had power over, because he was spending $5 on Miller Lite and would do everything short of crapping himself to make a point that he got to win this argument.

Over fucking nothing. Just shut your ignorant piehole and take the fucking bag you've already been offered.

The arguments, of course, had the opposite effect of what they might seem intended to achieve. Despite living in Washington State, which still had some of the most regressive post-Prohibition liquor laws in the country until very, very recently, the end result of these many, many conversations is that I came to believe there not only wasn't currently such a law, but that there indeed never had been such a law in Washington, that it was one of many legal urban legends that go around, sometimes, of course, bolstered by police who can use such beliefs to their advantage often enough.

The facts in the case of any laws that did or didn't exist are irrelevant, though, of course. What matters is that these many years later, if I came across a story about someone being beaten to death with a tire iron for making that argument, some part of my brain would smile, knowing deep down that kind of sociopath might really have that coming.

The worst part, though, is how much of all customer service interactions are a form of that exchange. People using other human beings to piss on to mark the small amount of power they have in the universe by forcing someone else to concede at least the possibility that they're right about a subject they are absolutely wrong about in order that person can continue to have food and shelter.

Moving back to Seattle, I jumped the gun in taking a position doing work that should have been perfect, under circumstances that weren't, so I had to move back to helping customers.

Now, I'm in the rather frustrating position of doing too well at a job that I feel is not doing what I want with my life.

I need to find a way to use this opportunity to find the thing that really will work for me, while I can wait and turn down the things that wouldn't work.

I just need to settle myself and be sure what that is.

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