Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Lesson in Customer Service

I get anxious when I pull up to the gas pumps and my tank is on the wrong side. I have dyslexia when it comes to its location. I didn't have to work for it.

I'm out of regular, all I have is special.

That is what he said, but not what I heard. I heard blah, blah, blah, I'm not a fixer, the special is at regular price.

Things got bad. The gas tank, my commute, and a frenetic day of spinning wheels at work came together at that time and place to bring the worst out of two human beings; except he swore. Also, I was listening to sports radio. The Red Sox are having a notorious season, the Patriots lost on Sunday, and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs just signed a number of Bruins free agents to long term deals then turned around to call the vote for the NHL lockout over player salaries.

I nod, smile and say yeah, then pull out my clip, run my card, punch in my PIN, and set the regular pump. As I do, I look at the special pump. Indeed, the price is the same as the regular. It was coming together, but still in my unconscious.

I have a mild case of OCD. I used to own a Saturn, anything more than regular and I was Luke Perry in "8 Seconds." I eat oatmeal out of orange Tupperware. I have certain things in a certain pocket when I play golf. My clothes drawers are organized in a particular way. And I don't microwave anything unless all the numbers are the same: popcorn takes three minutes and thirty-three seconds.

The attendant says something else, but I can't hear him. I don't want to understand him. I want regular gas. They are out of regular gas. If I want gas, I need to get special. If I was listening, I would have said, thank you young man talking with a wad of bright green gum in your mouth with all those teeth in your unshaven face with crazy hair. Instead, I had a moment.

Regular or Special. The choice was Special. Oh, really? Special gas is the same price as regular, because you're out of it? Steal! [Then I cross myself and big ups to heaven to all those that went before me. My life's a movie.] I didn't say that. I don't remember what I said. It was rude. It was unnecessary. I made the remark.

Why are you giving me attitude? What!?! Why are you raising your voice? What, are you serious!?! What is this bullshit? Where is this coming from!?! There's no need to yell. I'm not yelling!?!

He lost his mind. He had that look in his eyes. He put me on the defensive. I sputter my responses. I replay what he said prior to the mushroom cloud of anger. It all comes together. He said he didn't want to lose the sale, so the special gas has been reduced to the same amount as regular. I didn't hear him, because I didn't understand him, and I was focused on getting the gas. All I had to do was ask him to repeat what he said. Instead the conversation or yelling degenerated into a day before Christmas scene as two fathers hoot and holler over the last toy every child must have to live a life of happiness.

Now, I am raising my voice in the confusion to be heard and to offer an apology, but he isn't going to hear a word I say. Touché. Then he used the eff dash dash dash word and then I heard the word: rich. I drive a Mazda3. If I was rich, don't you think I'd at least drive the Mazda6?

What do you think of my story? Has it happened to you? What would you have done?