I've been back in a call center this year, for the first time since three years of call center work from 2001 to 2004. That time was for loading minutes onto long-distance calling cards. (Occasionally on this job I briefly slip into that-job mode and mention "calling cards," when this time I mean "Kroger Plus Cards.") It's the world of customer service, and some customers can be...entitled.
And some want to make unreasonable requests. And some want to fight.
This week was a kind of draining week due to just enough difficult customers. But I'm thinking of a week in May 2003 at the calling-card call center job. Saturday night, my last day of my work week. After getting off the phone at 10:00 p.m., I logged off, got my stuff from my desk, sat down at the desk of a supervisor I knew, and said this:
"My sense of humor has been beaten out of me."
Maybe a third of all my customers that night had seemed to want to fight with me, to be primed to fight. They were difficult. They were mad. And this happened more often that night than I was used to, without enough of the nice people who thanked me and stuff to balance it out.
OK. It was time to let go of that, get out of the office, go out into the cool spring night and catch a bus for home. And then it dawned on me:
1) Everyday Music's downtown location was not too many blocks away and open until midnight.
2) "Weird Al" Yankovic's new album Poodle Hat was out.
3) I HAD MONEY. (Reminds me: one time on that job, when a customer tried to buy minutes, got turned down because of not enough money on her card, but was pretty easy-going about that, I told her "You need the funds to function." "That's right!" she said.)
So Everyday Music it was. I got a new copy of the CD, and did a little more digging and happened upon a used copy of Lay It Down by the Cowboy Junkies because soothing, and bought both. The clerk I bought from let me know he'd seen a used copy of the Weird Al, but I want to support Al** so new it was, and I took those home.
And seriously, once I got the joke in Al's song "Bob," for a few weeks after getting the album I'd make sure to pause the CD before that song started and go to the bathroom, because I seriously thought I might piss myself laughing at one particular line.
I needed the laughing. I still need that 10 years later, and now that's a thing reason I'm glad I'm on the internet. Yeah, people being funny online this morning: it's helped.
* Though I'm not really plagiarizing, since even if I've told this story before, I'm writing it a different way. But I like that quote!
** I've since learned that Poodle Hat was one of Al's lowest-selling albums. Too bad, it's still good. His Frank Zappa style parody "Genius In France" is EPIC.