Customer Service

Her naiveté is enticing.  She sees each day with new promise, never remembering yesterday’s problems.  Her face holds no guile.  Many of the customers come into the store because of her rather than any real need to purchase cellular products.  She gives a genuine smile and personal greeting to each customer she assists.

Sitting next to her unflappable happiness day after long, dreary day, makes me want to shoot myself.  When the customers walk toward me, I often dip my head down in hopes they get into her line.  I can’t deal with the problems, the squeaky wheels of the stridently voiced old ladies, or the chirpy, dirty school girls.

The end of the workday is near.  I can’t wait to get home, but first, I have to wait on the rest of the customers. Next to me, I hear the high-pitched tones of Ashley’s voice as she says, “Welcome to Cell World, how may I help you?” I look at my next customer hoping eye contact will suffice as my greeting.  The blue-haired lady steps forward, handing me her cell phone and states, “This phone isn’t working.”  I take the phone, turn it on without any problem. “What’s wrong with it? I ask. “It turns on without any problems.” My voice sounds surly in my ears. I attempt to smile to soften my tone.

The lady cocks her head slightly to the left as she tries to hear me more clearly. “Well, I know it turns on, but I can’t seem to call out.  I dial the number but it doesn’t do anything.” I look at the phone in my hand, tapping the screen to pull up the dial pad. I key in my personal cell number, press send then hold the phone up to my ear. There is not a connection.  “Have you purchased a cell phone plan?” I ask.  She looks at me, a puzzled look on her face, “What do you mean?  I bought the phone, was I supposed to purchase something else?” Silently I chant my mantra, “Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.”  Here at the end of the day my patience is non-existent. I practically yell at the lady, “You have to have a cell phone plan or the phone won’t connect to the network.”  She glances at Ashley and then looks back at me, “Why can’t you sound as sweet as she sounds?”

Slowly, deliberately, every move perfectly calculated, I stand to my full height of 5’2”.  I’m a full head shorter than the awe-inspiring Ashley and almost eye-to-eye with the blue-haired lady. I push my stool beneath the counter and walk out of the store. I do not look back. I walk to my beaten truck, reaching my hand into the open window because the window will not roll up, grab the door handle and open the door.  The seat springs jab me in the leg as I begin to bang my head against the steering column.

31 thoughts on “Customer Service

  1. I really enjoyed how in this story, I could relate this to a moment in my life. I know the feeling of when a customer wants you to fix something, however they do not give the exact reason. I really enjoyed how in this story, there was a lot of descriptions. For example, I could picture the lady “cocking her head slightly” as well as the puzzled look on her face. Overall, I enjoyed this story and also liked how it flowed. I actually did laugh at some of the parts of this story which made it even better!

    • Daniel,

      Thank you. I see you commented on the why you enjoyed the work. Remember to focus on the critical analysis of the work also.

  2. This is actually a funny story and i’m sure everyone can relate to a time where an old person got on their nerves. Sometimes having the patience fore older people is very difficult. I liked how smooth the writing was and it was so descriptive that i felt like i could watch the story like a movie in my head. Overall, definitely worth reading.

    -Ben Marello

  3. This is a great short story, I enjoyed reading this a lot mostly because everyone can relate to something like this in life. this made so many connections with me, working at sonic a lot of people ask why a credit card wont work when the option to use one never even popped up. Overall the best part of this story was the imagery I got, imagining what Ashley would look like.

    • Matthew,

      Thank you. Remember that reading for pleasure is not the same as developing a critical analysis. You stated support for your thoughts and that was good. Remember, there’s always room for improvement.

  4. This is easily my favorite of your stories. It is a great representation of the idiocy and social standards present in today’s world. It’s very realistic, well organized, and provides a striking example of my own personal every day experience with these types of people. We have Ashley, the representative of the “Perfect” employee and everyone’s likely misplaced envy. Then there is the customer, representing the every day idiot one may come accross, along with the hardships employees of customer service companies. And finally we have the boss, who clearly represents the boss that is ever so oblivious to how things truly are within their own business or reponsibilities. To be honest, I have no recomendations for how you could improve on it. Believe me, if I didn’t like it I would certainly say so. I’m impressed and entertained, two things that I don’t happen to be often. Excellent work.

  5. I really enjoyed this short story. It is sort of comicable to me because of how true and relatable it is! It’s relatable to anyone who works in customer service because we all have days where we just do not want to be there, and everything gets on our nerves. I also think that we all have an Ashley at out workplace. I personally have a co-worker who is Ashley times a thousand, and can completely relate to how annoying and aggravating their personalities are sometimes. I also liked how descriptive you were i this. I could picture the blue-haired lady cocking her head to the side, and the scene of you getting into your beaten up truck at the end of the day. Really enjoyed this.

  6. I THOROUGHLY liked reading this. It was easy to and very well organized. The sequence of events were easy to follow and I could picture myself in your shoes (I’ve been close to this situation before and also wanted to bang my head against the steering wheel). The descriptions in this story were vivid (for example, Ashley’s height), so I felt like I was able to put a good picture in my mind as I was reading it. I feel like the characters in the story were very well described. To me, Ashley seems like the perfect customer service agent (or any “perfect” co-worker we’ve all experienced) that constantly annoys us just by being in the same vicinity as they are – which I can relate to on a daily basis. Overall very good story! Loved reading it

  7. Very funny short story. It shows how some people have very little patience and it reminds me of many people I know that behave in the same manner as the girl. Her disturbed tone made the story much more entertaining and when she said “I begin to bang my head against the steering column” I was able to relate to her experience because that is the same reaction I have when other people are driving me crazy.
    It’s a clear essay that presents a scene of what customer service usually looks like.

  8. For starters, as this is the first of your blogs I’ve read, I really enjoyed it. I expected nothing less than a very entertaining plot.

    At the beginning I found it hard to follow, perhaps that was my dyslexia not cooperating with the fancy wording, however, once I finally caught on it was very nice to follow. You made it a rather interesting and exciting pair of shoes to be in as the reader. It was remarkable how much I felt like I could see exactly what was happening.

    I also looked up a couple of the words, maybe I’ll use them one day.

    HSU MWF 10:00

  9. This story is so hilarious. lol, it actually made my day. I have worked at a fast food restaurant and as a clerk. Both jobs I had numerous of crazy customers. Its pretty cool knowing that other people have had experiences like mine makes me feel a little better because I always thought it was me. p.s. customers are not always right.

  10. I like reading this because I know how you feel in the situation. I use to work at accent in Hot springs and people call everyday not knowing anything about phones. This man called the store saying he could not get wifi on his phone. I kept asking the man what kind of phone it was but he didn’t know. So finally minutes goes by and tells me what kind of phone it is. It’s an old sprint flip phone. I told that’s why he couldn’t get wifi all he had to say was “oh” and hung up. I quit now, that job was to stressful.

  11. It definitely sounds like a correct interpretation of what most people want to do on a daily basis. We all seem to have that one “Ashley” in our lives, the ones that seem to do things so effortlessly. It is really unfair sometimes how life hands some gifts to people while not giving those same gifts to another. It’s not always about the hand you’re dealt but how you play it after all though. I will admit there have been more times that I’ve felt like slamming my head against a steering wheel than I’ve felt like I had it going on like Ashley has. Curiosity speaking though, did the lady ever get her cell phone plan? haha

  12. This story is a sad one. Capitalism has required that her proud and loyal citizens find fulfillment in being enslaved in a lifetime of menial, minimum wage customer service jobs, and the conjecture ive gathered says that there’s no conflict resolution for those who long for a more meaningful existance.

  13. Well written, an emotion or irritability found in everyday situations when dealing with people. Having to cater to everyone else, especially those who do not possess the same basic intelligence can be challenging, testing nerves. A good read, my only critique would be to include both the reaction from the setting and possibly the aftermath of storming out.

  14. This story has a sweet attitude of non-gratitude for the positive until it rubs off on you,then the story changes, life changes. Written very much as a fact. It demonstrates a test there’s no pass or fail, just a choice to make. So I choose …. to leave so true.

  15. Written in the first person, “Customer Service” gives the reader insight into the thoughts behind the smile (or maybe grimace) of the employee behind the counter. The I in the story represents the reality of working with the public over time, and Ashley represents the ideal of a fresh new experience.The difference is huge but real.The author uses dialogue,conversation between the employee and a little old lady, to set the mood of frustration on the part of the employee and innocent lack of understanding on the part of the old lady. This is absolutely the perfect exchange representing the generation gap. Finally, the preference of the customer for the Stepford style singsong response is just too much.The i must leave the situation totally and with tightly controlled movements, indicating extreme agitation, he/she goes to the truck for quiet release. The fact that it is a beaten truck might indicate that all of this is endured for little pay. Not indicating the gender of the I allows both men and women to share this same experience. Anyone working with the public can identify with the internal struggle of main character. I worked as a checkout clerk at Dollar General.

  16. In addition to my previous response, the dialogue used was very realistic for the situation and the use of a little old lady as the adversary was perfect for the contrast in knowledge of technology. The complimentary description of perfect Ashley followed by the way the main character responds to her provides a humorous and unexpected twist in perspective. The use of “blue-haired”, although effective, may be offensive to an older person reading because it is slightly derogatory. In the last paragraph I suggest using beat-up rather than beaten and steering wheel instead of column.Is the truck a metaphor for the job and are the springs for the customers? The job has left her beaten and the customers jab her with their constant complaints.

  17. This story hits home. I sold tobacco products for two years, and this screams what i had to deal with. Although I would rather sell someone cigs rather than cell phones or food. You can feel the characters frustration about having to deal with customers who always seem to be buying things they dont know what it is or how to use it. And in the end she did what i wanted to do time and time again, just leave and curl up in my car. I think more people should read it because it would perfectly describe what being in retail feels like to someone who’s never worked it.

  18. I can relate to this story in so many ways. The way you wrote it made me feel like I was the irritated 5’2″ lady. I really enjoyed this story.

  19. Oh my god! I really loved this one. Especially when you said, “Sitting next to her unflappable happiness day after long, dreary day, makes me want to shoot myself”. I felt like this when I worked in the shoe department at Belk. I would always want to walk off when a customer was being rude to me. This story describes every emotion when I’m working with people.

  20. Hilarious story. This situation can apply to most ages due to hating their jobs and coworkers. Ashley’s coworker, dreads her job because Ashley can forget her problems unlike her coworker who drags how happy she is all the time and why she is nice to everyone. I can tell Ashley’s coworker has little patience with people in general such as small talk, silly questions and overall any type of socializing. I feel she has issues that need to be resolved before getting any other job.

  21. I love the way you describe everything it makes it very easy to picture the scene of the story. I can relate to this at every turn having worked as a customer service rep for a cell phone company. Half the time you’re dealing with people that are upset with something that they have no knowledge of how it works which is the case in your story. The “Ashley” character in your story is definitely accurate in that line of work where most people are out of patience looking over at that person that is somehow enjoying themselves. Even if I wasn’t familiar with what it’s like to work in customer service I think the detailed descriptions in your story would do a great job of making me feel like I’m in the shoes of the main character.
    Every part of the story seems to keep you sucked in. You continually wander what’s going to happen next like it’s a new tv show you can’t get enough of. The only thing I didn’t like about the story is just like that new tv show you like it ends with a lot unsaid leaving me curious about what the intentions were of the employee that walked out. I understand that he just couldn’t take the stress anymore and had to just leave but it leaves me wandering if he had some sort of plan because he’s wanted to do this for a while, did he just do it on impulse, did it work out for him, or does he really regret walking out on his job? Altogether I thing you did a great job on the descriptiveness of the story and the way you wrote it made it easy to get sucked into I was just left wandering some of the details of the story but overall it was a great story.

  22. This story had me laughing out loud. I worked at Accent/Startek (Sprint call center) prior to returning to school and even though I wasn’t face to face with the customer it was hard to fake it after a while. I have had that exact issue multiple times. Every job has an “Ashley”. The worker that sets the impossible bar for the other to try to reach. The one the boss assigns to be your mentor when you mess up. Even though it’s not their fault for doing their job good, we still end up hating them. This story also seemed to be a story of the straw that broke the camels back. The protagonist is of course having a bad day already having to ride into work in that death trap. The window won’t roll up and even though the story doesn’t tell up what the weather is there are very few days through out the year nice enough for the window down. Once she gets to work she has to put up with Ashley’s peppy attitude. I would have probably one the same thing in her spot.

  23. Anyone can relate to one of these moments. The customer service industry is a difficult profession, dealing with every kind of person under the sun and putting on a smile and being kind and courteous at all times. It is very exhausting. It takes a certain personality, patience and attitude to be successful and enjoy this field. It is rare to enjoy or find passion for your job, but these jobs do exist if you know what fits well. Most struggle financially and are looking for a pay check to pay the bills for basic needs and the passion gets lost with the difficult scenarios of the job itself. The daily grind gets to many and they get caught up in negative feelings, thoughts and attitudes as well as resent and jealousy for the one’s with the positive, light- hearted attitudes. I have been on both sides of the fence. This story is reality at it’s best. You cannot hide from it. A deep thinking, self analysis read. Put together well and captures the emotions of employee and customer to the detail.

  24. I feel like this story relates to most people in a multitude of different ways for one primary reason. Most people start out with jobs similar to one like in this story. Everyone who has can most definitely relate to it. In these jobs, we all have those days when we just can’t seem to make it through the monotony. Sure, the jobs pays and may have its moments, but almost no one there is truly passionate about it. However, there are still those employees like Ashley. Those who are masters if faking it. They come in almost everyday bright and perky, hoping that their cheerful attitude will get them a raise or employee-of-the-year status. But, in reality, all they end up doing is making it that much less bearable for their fellow co-workers as seen in this short story.

  25. This story can represent the world going on around us today. I see this story as two different people who choose how they wish to live their lives and it reflects on them. The bright and smiling girl always had people around her, she was always happy, and it can be roughly implied that she lives a happy life. She chooses to smile every day and be kind to the customers, this in my opinion reflects on how her life “unfolds”. The second person does not wish to be around people, has little patience and is not bright and smiley at all. This reflects on their life because they were insulted for being so impatient, and as the person left it says they got into a beat up truck that also can represent the way they live. The person does not care enough to try to better their situation. I think a possible message in this story can be your life is what you make it. It is for a big part up to you whether you have a happy or mad/sad life. You have to make the most out of every situation.

  26. Amazing story, there’s a deeper message to this than what might come across to some people. I believe that the truck was described so vividly for a reason. The lady represents her truck, she’s not the best, she isn’t a super expensive sports car that greets every customer with a smile, she’s worn out and tired and on edge very much. The comment from the customer put her over the edge as she walked to her vehicle to get away from everything and take a break before it got any worse.

  27. I didn’t think I would relate to this story at all but turns out I do. I am that girl that puts her head down in situations and hope no one acknowledges me. What I got from this story is that everyone has challenges like this one to face everyday and it’s the way we choose to react that matters.You choose the way you day will go just by your reactions to others.

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