I believe there are very few jobs left which don’t involve customer service in some capacity. Yoga teachers serve a horde of new moms sweating off the baby weight. Nurses serve morphine to cancer patients. Actors serve a performance to an audience they could lose with the slightest slip. Writers serve readers, watchers, consumers of content, and their benefactors. Politicians are supposed to serve the people, but end up serving whoever pays for their campaign. Capitalism turns us all into servants and consumers. Some countries require a few years of military service for every citizen. I believe America could improve our collective treatment of fellow humans by requiring a year of customer service work right out of high school. That’ll show ‘em.
My resume includes a variegated portfolio of work, as I’ve traded huge chunks of my life for survival money like the rest of society. One entry I don’t include is a few months working at a call center for a company that sells standardized testing. There’s only one standardized test every US high school student is required to take in order to apply for college, so you know the one. It was my job to help these hapless parents register their kids for a lifetime of eventual indebtedness. The job was so boring I spent most of my time scrolling through Wikipedia pages about my favorite tv shows and making snide comments on Facebook.
One lady started calling me every day. There were several other people who did my exact same job, but she had my extension and the knowledge that it was against the rules for me to hang up on her, no matter how uncomfortable she was making me. This lady called every day a few weeks before Christmas because her 19-year-old adopted son “ran away” from home and she was checking to see if he had registered for the exam because it was the only way she could keep tabs on the kid. I didn’t ask the lady how she could define a 19-year-old as a runaway, but I assumed from this lady’s attitude he had a good reason. The conversations made me increasingly uncomfortable and began to lengthen to the point where I would pretend I was getting another call just to put her on hold.
I talked to a manager about the situation and they told me I shouldn’t have been giving her any information in the first place because the kid was over 18. I dragged my feet back to my cube, awaiting her eventual call. I told her I had spoken to a manager about the situation, asking if there was anything else I could do to help her, but it turns out I can’t give her any more information. Although her every exhale was a complaint, until that point, it felt like she considered me an ally. Her tone snapped in an instant.
“You people are meddlers! Just like those people he’s staying with! I hope you have a crappy Christmas!” She cursed at me and hung up. I don’t consider the word “crap” a curse, it was her tone of voice that felt like an evil magic spell cast upon my soul. That “crappy Christmas” curse has stuck with me ever since. I hated that job and I knew I was terrible at it anyway, so it wasn’t like she could lower my self-esteem about it any more than it already was, but I found the absurdity of the situation so powerful it was almost funny. I’ve told that story in job interviews and ended up getting hired. If anything, that “crappy Christmas” made me nicer and more patient with customer service agents ever since.
#BeckyCon2019 is trending on twitter and most of the tweets have some form of “I would like to speak to your manager” jokes. I get the joke and I’ve seen this happen in real life, just like everyone. A white lady wearing expensive yoga pants and a backward-mullet haircut is holding up the line because her coupon is expired and she thinks the manager will give her what she wants to make her go away. This is Becky. We all hate Becky. She wastes everyone’s time. She believes she is entitled to whatever she wants due to her white-ladyness. She makes everyone’s jobs harder. She enjoys their suffering like it’s her job… which she doesn’t have because she married well. Let’s hope #BeckyCon2019 takes the Beckys down a few pegs.
“I’m the only white woman in history to have ever gone to jail for asking to speak to a manager.” – Me, joking with petition signers. Black people laugh at that joke way more than white people. Why is that? Do black folks believe that I could be sent to jail for bullshit reasons more than white folks or do white folks have a few Becky-ish tendencies they’re not ready to confront? I felt a tinge of Becky rising up within me while demanding to speak to Kevin the security guard’s boss. She was dragging an overstuffed suitcase full of white guilt and feminist righteousness. I had to hold her back by her Ugg boots for the sake of my causes. I knew I was there for good reasons and Kevin had said some incredibly sexist shit to me, provoking the Becky to arise. Calm down, Becks, he ain’t worth it… My shadow pleaded.
So, is there ever a good reason to ask to speak to someone’s manager? Let’s say you find an entire beak in your chicken nugget. What sane person wouldn’t at least ask for a refund? I was in jail for three days because Kevin was afraid of me talking to his boss. These days, the internet is the boss of us all. May I reiterate, I was in jail for three days, for tweeting on a public sidewalk, never been to jail before, got traumatized, and set my causes back at least a month all because Kevin KNEW he fucked up? He used what little power he had as a glorified receptionist to lock me in a cage so that I wouldn’t have him fired. It’s not my job to get Kevin fired, Becky isn’t my boss, but I would have made a complaint had I not been in handcuffs. Now it’s my job to deal with defending myself against this bullshit trespassing charge while still petitioning, generating #ScriptDoctor work, and maintaining my precarious mental health. Thanks, Kevin. I hope your Christmas is… interesting.
Friendly reminder: #AStarForCarrie is a petition to get Carrie Fisher a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a nonprofit startup, and a positive movement for social change! #OccupyFamilyGuy is a sub-project of #AStarForCarrie and a petition to get an all-female written episode of Family Guy in honor of Carrie Fisher’s prolific writing talent! Please sign the petitions, share, and donate!