The good, the bad and the ugly of customer service

By Madison McCollum, Opinion Editor

You know what I love? Snarky comments, flying cookie packages, and the “I want to speak to your manager” line that comes after another human being demeans you for a solid 10 minutes.

If you work in any line of customer service, you love that feeling too.

There’s nothing better than walking into a job, sometimes that pays a whoppin’ seven dollars and 25 cents, and having some older lady creep her way up to the counter, ill intention leaking off her brittle bones and joints creaking like a door hinge in a horror film.

Okay, maybe that’s slightly dramatic and dripping with sarcasm, but I’m not too far off the mark.

I’ve been working in the customer service industry since my senior year of high school (that’s almost five years), and I’ve seen it all. I’ve had people let their kids run around, pulling things off the shelf; a man pull up to the window, spitting in my face because I couldn’t hear him through the speaker over the tornado sirens; an old lady throw cookies at me because she was upset that the belt was moving - everything. I’ve been cursed at, threatened, anything and everything except physically harmed (if you don’t count the cookie incident of 2015). And, do you know what I’ve never done?

Stood up for myself.

There is a lingering fear at the back of my mind that I’m going to get fired. That the customer will write corporate or blow me up on facebook, even if I’m the victim of poor circumstance. I don’t want to fight them. I don’t want to yell, but I also don’t deserve to be the target for, what many people call, someone’s “bad day.” I don’t deserve to be threatened or yelled at because a mistake was made- sometimes not even by me- because I am a human being.

A human being with feelings. With aspirations, passions and goals. Someone that could possibly be making minimum wage to pay for those aspirations and goals.

But, I get to smile, apologize for the inconvenience, and hope that they don’t reach across the counter, drive thru window, or countertop and “knock some sense” into me.

Don’t get me wrong. Customer service can be a wonderful field. It can help you grow and develop a tougher skin. It can bring joy when you see a regular who cares about your well being, who takes that three minute interaction to ask you how your day is.

It also humbles you and teaches you that “golden rule.” That one that people seem to forget when they transition from their blue-collar to their white.

Treat others how you wish to be treated.

There are times my shoulders are so tense I swear my muscles might snap- where I roll my neck in the drive thru window of a McDonalds and just hear the popping of vertebrae. It’s pretty common when I’m stressed, frustrated and hangry because I haven’t ate all day, and I have 10 minutes to get to my next obligation that I shouldn’t have signed up for - and I pull up to the window. It’d be easy for me to just snap at the teennager taking their sweet time and moving slowly and let out my frustrations with an angry undertone, snarky comment, or middle finger.

But, I’ve been there, done that. All of that. It’s ruined my day, and I refuse to be the one to ruin someone else’s. Don’t take your bad day out on someone else. Toughen up, be nice, and treat others how you want to be treated. Plain and simple.