When it comes to customer service, I have a certain amount of tolerance for inadequacy. But once that level has been met, I am a…well…what’s a good word for it?…complete bitch.
Just the other day, I may or may not have chewed out a librarian over the phone. You see, I placed a book on hold three weeks ago. I checked online each week and the status of the book was “in,” but I was still sans book. After calling once (and being transferred to three people), I was told to call back the next day. Fine, no problem. However, when the next day rolled around, I called again and was transferred to three different people. Let’s just say that out of a total of six librarians in two days, persons five and six were not so lucky when it came to my patience.
Some of my minor annoyances included the number of times I was transferred and the number of times I had to give my account number and retell my story. However, after librarian #5 told me to call back every day after 2 pm to check on my book, that’s where annoyance morphed into bitch mode.
My response was, “So, it is my job to call you every day at 2 pm to remind you how to do your job in locating this book?” She told me that it wasn’t my job, but she was out of suggestions, as they were unsure of the book’s whereabouts. She then blindly tossed me over to her manager.
So librarian #6 got on the phone, and I had to angrily explain, yet again, the entire story. She acknowledged that it was not my job to call every day, but also noted that her employee did not tell me to do that. In other words, I’m a liar and entirely made that up. We ended the call without a resolution. But 15 minutes later, librarian #6 called me back, telling me she found the book. And then she added, “Doesn’t it pay to be nice?”
When I asked her why she felt the need to add that little quip, she said I was being rude, and that everyone who works there is really nice. So I responded with, “Well, apart from being incompetent liars, sure, your staff is lovely. But to answer your question, no, it doesn’t pay to be nice. I was nice for three weeks. But when I called and was rude, you found the ‘missing’ book in 15 minutes.” She was silent, conceding the conversational “win,” so we ended the call.
After this whole ordeal, I felt slightly bad about being impolite to librarian #5 and librarian #6. But at the same time, it really made me wonder about the world we are living in. In this case, had I not been rude, I most likely would not have gotten that book. And I have been noticing more and more in life that if you don’t call people out on their bullshit, nothing ever changes.
So what do we do? Do we turn on the asshole switch when we want to see a better or different outcome, assuming that people only respond when unpleasant behavior applies itself to a situation? Or do we just try to be nice, not ruffle any feathers and accept things as they are?
My experience with life thus far has taught me that it’s always better to turn on that switch. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of being an intentional bi-atch. I try to listen to the “be nice because you never know what others are going through” mantra. My intention is to always start off on the right foot. But most of the time, I wind up disappointed that I wasted my niceness.
So, does it really pay to be nice? The verdict is still out. But I remain hopeful that maybe one day, I’ll discover a happy medium that allows me to get the desired results without flipping that switch.
*This piece was published on Sammiches and Psych Meds on October 28, 2016.