Complainers Who Live to Complain

For some reason, there are a whole lot of people who live to complain—about anything and everything. But it seems as though the majority of complainers seem to complain about 1) their food and those folks who bring it to them, and 2) telephone reps.

I waitressed during the summers in high school, and in my last two years of college. Believe me, I heard every snarky remark, sick joke, passive/aggressive demand, and downright nasty behavior. Customer service is rife with situations like this, and you just have to learn to ignore it or simply rise above it.

If you let it bother you, it can turn you into the kind of person you never want to be. I learned early to just ignore or “play dumb” when people were rude to me. I just kept smiling and giving good service. I tried hard not to give them a reason to complain.

When I was a telephone rep for a company that sold math and science school supplies, I learned quickly to turn a sentence like this: “You are so stupid! You must have been raised by idiots!” into “[name of company] is so stupid! [Name of company] must have been raised by idiots!”

That way it doesn’t seem so personal. And truly, these nasty comments are not about the waitress or the rep, they are about the customer’s frustration in not getting the answer they need. Often after a customer has spewed their invective all over you, the best thing you can do is to say immediately that you are so sorry that they had so much trouble and how can we help you now?

Of course, if someone will not stop cursing at you and threatening to set your house on fire, you may have to do one of two things: 1) politely ask for them to please stop swearing so that you can help them, and/or 2) ask for their phone number so that you can call them back once they cool off.

By the way, the funniest complaint I ever heard on that job was the bride who had purchased several of the butterfly towers. These were a big seller; they could be hung in the school room where the kids could watch the butterflies emerge from the pupas. At that point, the teacher would take the tower and the kids outside and release the butterflies.

The bride bought several of the butterfly towers, and wanted to release them all at her outdoor wedding. However, Nature being what it is, most of the butterflies did not emerge in time for the wedding. She was livid, and demanded to know why this happened. I reminded her that Nature is not predictable, and, in looking at her file I saw that she had been told repeatedly not to expect that all of the butterflies would be ready.

She wasn’t having it. She wanted to talk to someone “in charge” about it. I was dying to tell her that that would probably be God or Mother Nature, but of course I just passed her over to the manager.

Complainers who live to complain will be with us always. The best we can do it to help where we can, and ignore the inevitable kerfuffle.


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