Boy, you're awfully selfish. Always thinking about yourself. You know, I wasn't put here just to cater to your stupid, idle whims. You want people to laugh at me? Think of somebody besides yourself for a change. Now fix your makeup and keep your mouth shut. If we will get some buckets and bail the water out, everything will be all right. However, a dissension soon arose among the travelers about who would do the bailing, and what buckets would be used. It is written in the laws of the sea that a person of my parts must do this labor. Besides, I have a superior bucket. Everyone adduced many weighty, true, and worthy philosophical arguments for his position, and cited laws, ethics, and political and procedural rules, but no person succeeded in convincing any other.
Soon, therefore, the discussion ceased to remain at this level, but grew rather heated, and shouts and aspersions began to fill the air, with perhaps even a trace of ill will. Now these passengers all had some interest in seeing the boat bailed, and most hoped that this impasse could be overcome to the satisfaction of everyone. But since no one knew exactly what to do, nothing was done.
It was not to be so. While the travelers continued to debate, some suggesting unworkable alternatives and the others remaining unyielding, the boat continued to fill, until at one sudden and horrifying moment, the water rushed in over the gunwales and across the deck. The hold filled rapidly, and in spite of every man's frenzied efforts, the boat sank, carrying the stubborn but now too-late-repentant travelers, together with their screaming wives and virgin daughters, to the very bottom of the sea.
After some thought, the king had an idea: he would give ten million greedos their monetary unit and the hand of his totally gorgeous daughter to the person who could make his mail arrive the fastest. His loyal subjects immediately rushed to solve the problem, setting themselves to this task with an enthusiasm that an objective observer might well have described as manic.
People ran back and forth, up and down, muttering, "Move the mail, shove the mail, fling it, sling it. Shoot the mail, toss it, heave it," and such like. Included in the many and varied offered solutions were proposals to build a rocket sled, crisscross the countryside with pneumatic tubes, use fast horses stimulated by strong coffee, borrow a dragster from the sports arena, set up a reliable airline, make a jet-powered conveyor belt, or just use ordinary mailmen under the threat of immediate, violent death if they delayed the mail.
However, Sir Reginald, the young, handsome hero of this tale, out of the goodness of his heart, his love for the king, and the excitement of the challenge and scarcely considering the money or the girl more than four or five hours a day , decided to take a few minutes to examine the problem before he tried to solve it. And just what is mail? It's a message, information. Information, hmm. Information can be sent electronically, by wire or transmission. Yes--A transmitter on one end and a printer on the other end would permit the king's mail to be sent at the speed of light.
That should pretty much squash Sir Rodney's proposal to use battery-powered frisbees. Well, what can we say? The brilliance of this proposal was so obvious that Sir Reginald was declared the winner and the plan was immediately instituted. The mail began to arrive on time, the king soon became popular again in the outlying regions, and Sir Reginald retired to spend the rest of his days in a spiffy castle on top of a hill, with his totally gorgeous wife and, later, seventeen children.
So Sir Wishful sauntered up to Arissa in his most elegant and refined manner, and, twirling his mustache genteelly, said, "Arissa, my dear, methinks I'd like to take you out to dinner. Sir Percival, seeing his rival stumble off in a confused, embarrassed, humiliated, dazed--oh you get the idea. Anyway, Sir Percival saw his opportunity and approached Arissa. Well, both Sir Wishful and Sir Percival retired to lick their wounds and lament the fate of men in this whole romantic con game, and Sir Wishful soon enough decided that he liked the taste of trout just about as well as the taste of women's lips, so he grabbed his bait and tackle and headed for the river.
Sir Percival, on the other hand, really thought Arissa might be worth another attempt, and he rationalized with himself that perhaps she didn't quite understand the question. So Sir Percival, seeing on another day the fair, delicate Arissa using her footman's coat to clean the mud off her shoes, again approached and asked: "Arissa, sweet one, won't you go out with me sometime? Arissa generously gave Sir Percival a look that could have frozen several pounds of choice lobster, and replied, "You must be kidding.
Sir Percival thought about this answer for a couple of days, and still finding his inclination toward the gentle Arissa unchanged, he thought to make a clarificatory attempt, just in case the maiden did believe he had been kidding. Ifay, I'd like to date you. Only the author's extreme commitment to complete truth forces him to admit that a tiny trace of irritation now flashed, but only for the briefest of moments, across the lovely Arissa's brow. Well, needless to say, by now most of the other knights in the realm were getting sufficient jollies out of Sir Percival's romantic endeavors.
Even Sir Wishful had joined in the laughter, ridicule, and derision that seasoned Sir Percival's every meal with his friends. This hilarity touched the young knight and caused him to spend several days in contemplation of his past behavior. But "Steadfast" was probably Sir Percival's middle name or his uncle's middle name, anyway , so the knight decided to approach Arissa yet again.
After all, Arissa seemed to be pretty okay, and Sir Percival wanted a date. In a few days, then, Arissa heard a familiar question in a familiar voice: "Arissa, sweetheart, let me ensconce you in my carriage and take you on a date. To which Arissa: "Well, I'll be busy for the next ten years. I mean, I've got stuff to do, forsooth. Well, our hero was getting a bit despondent about all this, and for sure his friends weren't helping much. Far from their giving him encouragement, their laughter rang so constantly in Sir Percival's head that he began to wonder if he was still quite sane.
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And not a few of his friends hinted here and there that psychiatric consultation might be useful to the knight, to get him over his ridiculous interest in the agreeable Arissa. About this time it so happened that as Sir Percival was on his way to visit Sir Wishful for a nice dinner of trout and onions, he quite unexpectedly came upon Arissa, lovely as ever, sitting near the village waterfall and picking her teeth. Almost out of habit, Sir Percival spoke: "Arissa, sugar, would you like to go out with me sometime?
To which Sir Percival: "Yeah, fair one, but I thought maybe you'd had a cancellation or something. To which Arissa: "Well, if I did have a cancellation, I wouldn't fill it up with you. Besides, what would we do? To which--well, anyway, to her own surprise, to the astonishment of Sir Percival, and to the great confusion of the rest of the kingdom, Arissa finally actually agreed to this scenario and the next evening the two young people went to Andre's.
Arissa, of course, ordered the eleven most expensive things on the menu, for she was still intending to discourage Sir Percival, but the knight was willing to put up with only a glass of water for his own dinner, because the success he had enjoyed so far with the desirable Arissa had quite taken away his appetite anyway. In the course of the evening, Arissa happened to remark, "I wish they had apricots on the menu here.
You know, I really love them. I could eat them by the ton. To which Arissa: "Really? Oh, Perce. Well, from here the story gets pretty mushy, so we'd better make it short. This delightful couple soon held hands; they discovered anon that their lips fit together pretty well, Arissa's ten years' worth of plans were miraculously cancelled, and Sir Percival finally asked the Big Question, to which Arissa replied, "Well, okay. And so they were married and lived happily ever after, with Arissa often telling Sir Percival how she had secretly loved him from the first time she saw him, while Sir Percival, each time he kissed Arissa's apricot-flavored lips, congratulated himself for his skill in winning her.
Her flesh yields when I press; the marble does not. Now Cleon was desirous of marrying off this legendary beauty as soon as possible so that he could be free of the constant entreaties for her hand, free of the frequent bills for supplying her dressing table, and free to spend more time in his rose garden, which he truly loved. The king would have had little trouble choosing the richest suitor in the kingdom for his daughter, except that there were no exceptionally wealthy bachelors in the realm, and those of modest wealth all had castles and money boxes of essentially similar dimensions.
For her part, the Princess Jennifrella was repletely enamored of Sir Fassade, a handsome, dashing, suave, carefree young knight who most people, when they faced reality, agreed would almost certainly become her husband and therefore the next king. King Cleon, however, was desirous of exercising his regal authority in having a say in who would follow him on the throne.
And faced with what he clearly saw was an impossible number of choices, he therefore sought the opinion of his favorite advisor, the young Sir Philo. Now, persons of a cynical bent might begin to think that Sir Philo, an eligible bachelor himself and not at all impervious to feminine gorgeousness, would argue craftily that he himself was the most suitable and worthy candidate.
This might have been so but for two equally powerful reasons. First, Sir Philo, brave, skilled, and thoughtful, was a man of integrity who would never abuse his position as the king's advisor to advance his own interests, even in a matter so emotionally and biologically compelling as that before us. The other reason is that Sir Philo was already in love with another. It was a gentle love, like a deep river, quiet and calm on the surface but fully substantial and powerful in its flow.
His happiness, the Lady Lucinda, though not of outward visage the equal of Jennifrella, was handsome enough for the young knight's daydreams. When asked what attracted him to Lucinda, he would answer ambiguously or mutter something about the light in her eyes. What joy he got sitting with her under a tree in the bright spring, gazing upon her and dallying with her fingers or brushing a love-sick gnat from her collar.
But what really twirled Sir Philo's cuff links was Lucinda's wit, her laugh, her playfulness. He relished taking the sprightly maid hand in hand on long walks, listening to the music of her voice and to the sentiments accompanying the music. How he loved to play with her tresses, or when her hair was up, to steal up behind her and kiss her unexpectedly on the back of the neck: for she would invariably produce a little shriek of surprise and delight and embarrassment, and then turning to him, her cheeks glowing irresistibly, attempt to glare and call him "monster," only to spoil her mock anger by bursting into giggles or even outright laughter.
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She would chide him and call him "rogue," and "impertinent," and he would say something like, "I'll put a stop to this abuse," and then their lips, who were old friends by now, would once again meet for fellowship. Of course, Lucinda would struggle just enough to enhance the enjoyment, until laughter or an unexpected visitor broke their embrace.
Well, enough mush. The point is that an unspoken understanding had developed between them so that only a few months after the rest of the kingdom knew it, they realized that they would one day wed and together laugh and cry through the years until death should wake them.
But to return to the weightier problem of King Cleon. Upon being asked for his advice, Sir Philo recommended that the king choose from among the following options. One, his majesty could choose the wisest and most just suitor for Jennifrella, for such a man would not only make a good king, but he would most likely be a decent husband, too. Or secondly, the king might seek a foreign alliance and marry his daughter to another king's son. This was an alternative which Sir Philo did not recommend, but mentioned only for the sake of completeness.
And finally, the last possibility would be to let Jennifrella choose for herself--in which case, everyone knew that Sir Fassade would be the next king, and he, opined Sir Philo, would be "acceptable," producing a government no worse than the current one. Since I have already described the king's advisor as "thoughtful," I shall now add "tactful" and note that the final participial phrase of the previous sentence was thought but not uttered by the knight.
As for the kind of husband Sir Fassade would make, the princess would have no one to blame but herself. King Cleon thought the matter over not quite long enough and decided to hold an archery contest, the winner of which would marry his daughter. The degree of Sir Philo's consternation is not recorded in the annals from which I am plagiarizing, but one may suppose that it was substantial, for reasons which will hereinafter appear.
Needless to say except to make the story longer and extend the reader's pleasure , Sir Philo made energetic protests, which eventually descended to rather pathetic entreaties, all in a futile attempt to change the king's mind. But King Cleon would not be dissuaded, and so the news was soon heralded throughout the kingdom, and, as you might suppose, arrow sales shot up immediately and remarkably. As when a child pounds the ground near an anthill, causing a good many of the residents instantly to surface and run around in massed panic, so on the day of the contest the world arrived in a swarm at the castle of Cleon the Modest and prepared to be a witness, if not the victor, in the winning of Jennifrella.
There were several dozen contenders in the contest, some quite accomplished archers, some more or less dilettantish, and quite a few whose skills put the spectators at random hazard. Amid the noise and enthusiasm on this day stood a grim and silent Sir Philo, deeply troubled about the proceedings for three reasons. First, strictly from a philosophical standpoint, a shooting contest was a completely irrational method of choosing either a spouse or a future king, and irrationality like this always troubled the young knight.
Second, though Sir Fassade was a very good shot, capable of satisfactorily humiliating most of the other contestants, he was no match for Sir Bargle. If they used the word then, I would have to exaggerate only slightly to say that Sir Bargle was, as they say in French, or maybe don't, a jerque. He punctuated nearly every sentence with an oath or a belch, constantly leered at the ladies in waiting who knew all too well to keep a safe distance from him , and those who attended carefully to his speech noted that the word he used more than any other was "me.
The prospect of this knight nuzzling the hair or nibbling the earlobes of Jennifrella was in itself sufficiently revulsive to Sir Philo; the prospect of his becoming king was absolutely unthinkable. The third reason that the king's advisor was grieved about the "score ahead and wed" method of selecting the princess' groom was that the only person in all the realm who could outshoot Sir Bargle was--Sir Philo.
Prithee, talk not to me about psychic conflict--nay, psychic trauma, for I have seen it here, and it is not gentle. Sir Philo traced and retraced many steps around the castle grounds, without thought of direction or destination, the movement of his feet and the tension on his face reflecting the turmoil in his soul. At length, in his anxiety, the brave knight turned to his lady love for succor and advice, and she, with a swiftness that surprised him and a nobility that made him love her more deeply than ever, told him that of course he must put the interest of the kingdom above his personal happiness.
She then flew into his arms and burst into inconsolable sobbing for longer than we have time to look in on. The contest began and proceeded remarkably well, with only the loss of a too-curious cow and a few luckless birds at the hands of the less accomplished suitors. Sir Fassade shot well that day, achieving a personal best. As each arrow hit, closer and closer toward the middle of the target, it made the princess clap a little louder and leap with joy a little higher.
A smirk of self-congratulation soon decorated Sir Fassade's handsome face. A loud belch and a louder laugh announced the commencement of Sir Bargle's shooting. As predicted by Sir Philo, Sir Bargle was an excellent shot. As each arrow landed a good handbreadth closer to the center of the target than any of those of Sir Fassade, the smiles on the faces of the princess and her favorite knight grew less and less until they had been completely replaced by somber looks on the knight and what might be described as silent hysteria on the face of the princess.
The look on Sir Bargle's face at the conclusion of his shooting is a little too carnal for me to describe. As he shot his set of arrows, Sir Philo was forced more than once, after he had fully drawn his bow, to pause, and to wait until a little tremble--attributed by the crowd to nervousness and eagerness to win Jennifrella--left his hands. As each arrow hit the target, remarkably near the middle, it also pierced the very center of Lucinda's heart.
The young knight thought more than once about letting an arrow fly wide of the target, but he did his duty, though it brought grief to himself and devastation to the woman he treasured. Sir Philo's smile as he took the hand of the princess was obviously forced, but no one noticed because Jennifrella was now bawling so spectacularly that the crowd, though not at all wishing to be unkind, found it, frankly, entertaining.
After a peculiar three years' delay, Lucinda finally made her choice from among several good offers and moved with her new husband to a remote part of the kingdom where it was reported that she was content, though some said that the cooler climate had somewhat subdued her well-known effervescence. In the fullness of time, Sir Philo exchanged his sword for a crown and ascended the throne. He ruled wisely and justly, and the kingdom prospered. Hero that he was, he had mostly adjusted to the princess' personality, reminding himself as occasion required and occasion did require , that not only had he acted for the good of the kingdom, but he had wed great beauty and, eventually, personal power.
He further reminded himself that Jennifrella had made an adequate wife, even after her face wrinkled and her tummy pudged, and that she had proved to be a reasonable mother to his children. Whenever, in a moment of inattention, he discovered himself pining to enjoy a witty remark or some unguarded laughter, he quoted, hoping that it was true, the old proverb that "we grow most not when something is given but when something is taken away.
All in all, it was a reasonable life with much to be thankful for. Jennifrella's joy was that Sir Philo, now King Philo, remained a generous and loving husband even as her beauty faded; her only regret was that Sir Fassade had married her younger and more amiable sister, and both of them appeared to be altogether too happy. Lucinda's joy was in her two lovely children, whom she took, once or twice, to see the new king as he made a royal progress through their village. Her only regret was that she could reveal only half her heart as she told them what a good man he was.
Sir Philo's joy was that he had acted virtuously and now enjoyed a mostly pleasant life, dispensing justice and mercy with care and humanity. His only regret was that he had learned to shoot arrows. Picking himself up and dusting himself off, the young man looked around to see if anyone had witnessed his inadvertent folly. The only people nearby were two men, who, although they were just a dozen feet away, were completely oblivious to the young man's accident, for the reason that they were engaged in a somewhat heated argument. Whether to obtain some sympathy for his bruised head, or to excuse his inattention, or perhaps simply because they were standing near a wheel barrow and looked for all the world like gardeners, the young man interrupted them with the slightly exasperated question, "Excuse me, but what is that tree doing there, anyway?
Now it so happens that these two men were not gardeners at all. They were, in fact, tenured professors of philosophy, the very subject the young man was struggling to understand. They turned to him at once and condescended to admit him to their conversation. This is a tree. The concept of treedom does not subsist in some fortuitous, exogenous hyle --that is the doctrine of carpenters, not of philosophers. As Herman of Rimboa has aptly remarked, 'Inner eyes must perceive beyond what the outer eyes see.
Compare them and deduce treehood by subtracting the anomalous from the universal. How do you pretend to instruct the ignorance of youth when you have never instructed yourself? Go back to your books. It finds analogues and even homologues in life systems everywhere. Sir Humphrey Boodle even noted it. Calesimon was an idiot! A tree--". The young man has asked for an explanation. Not everything you don't understand is a problem with the text ," said the beard, tapping his finger to his temple.
Don't make it a habit to go around quoting hoaxes. It gives philosophy a bad name. That's the most transparent semantic ploy I have ever heard. With a little more effort, no doubt you'll be able to announce that the sun shines on a clear day. It smacks of the grimy hands of utilitarianism. In a minute you'll be insisting that philosophy have practical consequences for berry pickers and children.
Perhaps you would be happier as some sort of mechanic where you could get your hands on things, rather than as one who pretends to instruct youth. A young man, deeply preoccupied with thinking about the purpose of mankind, had just bounced his head against a tree and--ah, but this is where you came in. With this thought, the man's eyes brightened and he continued now more alertly down the road, staring intently at the ground and knocking little pebbles around with his cane.
After a little, he thought he saw something ahead. Mending his pace somewhat, he hurried as an old man with a cane hurries up to the object, which he now believed to be a quarter. When he stooped down to pick it up, however, he found it to be merely a bottle cap, covered with red ants eating the remaining sugar. He had hardly begun to wonder what he might find next, when, there, just a little way off, he saw a pearl lying in the roadbed. As he came nearer, his joy increased. He even paused a moment and looked around to see if anyone had noticed him or the pearl.
The way seemed clear so he closed the final distance, reached down, and picked it up. Instantly he was aware that this was no pearl, but just a partly dried up chicken brain, which must have fallen off some farmer's cart, or been left by some animal in haste. It was not long after this that he saw another, much larger item in the road before him, which looked, from where he now was, just exactly like a fat roll of paper money. Blessing his astrological reading promising riches for that day, he made his way up to the spot with a speed truly remarkable for a person of his age and infirmities, and anxiously bent over to retrieve his treasure.
A closer look, however, and a confirming touch revealed that the man had found a "road apple," or, as it is sometimes called, a "horse biscuit. Seems dry enough to burn right well. Now the old man, between his nearsightedness and his preoccupation with his great discoveries, wandered unknowingly over to the side of the road, and pretty soon he stepped off into a ditch and fell down with remarkable violence.
A farmer not very far off saw this episode, and hurried over to help the old man up. As he got to his feet, the old man, wincing with pain and holding one arm, cried out with a tone of satisfaction, "A broken arm! Just what I was looking for! A broken arm can be very useful. Instead, he quite generously helped the old gentleman into his cart and took him to town. When the two arrived, the farmer dutifully summoned a doctor and the constable and some others of note in the place and repeated how the old man had fallen and broken his arm, only to exclaim that such a result was apparently what he had intended.
This narrative caused some strange looks and a little discussion among them, and no one could think what to do next aside from fixing the man's arm , when the constable suddenly remembered that he did not know the man's name. When his pockets were finally emptied, there was still no identification, but instead, on the table before them, his interrogators saw the following objects, namely, viz.
After a moment or two of reflective silence, the mayor made bold to speak seeing the constable in a reverie , and asked gently and softly, "Where did you get all these, uh, items? Quite a find, eh? At this point, the farmer, who had been standing generally in the background holding his hat in both hands, came forward and begged an audience with the constable. All the way into town that old fellow kept saying something to me about wanting to cook his brains by burning a horse biscuit under his cap.
That was enough. And, needless to say, the Authorities from the Institution in the city were immediately summoned, and the old man was taken to a very pleasant place where he could rest among friends and nice people, have no worries, and be free to enjoy the "butterflies, blue skies, and happiness always. Mattresses on the walls! Needless to say, this wonderful painting was the most popular exhibit at the museum, providing instruction and delight for thousands of visitors. Everyone, from the young child who could barely walk to the old man who could barely walk, enjoyed its beauty frankly and openly or profited from studying its color and arrangement.
Children loved to see the happy figures kicking up their feet with joy; the young people marveled at the freshness and beauty of the figures; those of mature years stood astonished at the excellent technique that could present such a convincing vision; the old remarked upon the feeling of cozy intimacy produced by the scene of innocent pleasure. One day a horrible discovery was made: the painting was not a genuine Old Master after all. It was a forgery. It had not been painted by the famous artist whose name was on it, and in fact it had been painted within the last ten years.
The museum directors and the curator were horrified and consumed with shame. Immediately the painting was jerked from the walls of the museum and ignominiously relegated to a basement storeroom. This painting is a lie. At first the public was saddened to lose sight of such a popular painting, and a few mild protests were raised, but eventually concern for the painting was pushed aside by other more pressing concerns, and it was forgotten as are all things no longer directly in front of us in this busy world and life continued.
Only the museum curator and an occasional junior staff member ever saw the painting now, hanging in the dim light of the basement well away from public view. All that was heard of it was the curator's occasional disparaging comment. How we were ever taken in by this obvious cheat is beyond me. While he held his bleeding nose, he was heard to mutter, "Now why did they move the door?
Finally, exhausted from chasing the arrow and deflecting the bird, the boy sat down in the sparse shade of a dead tree. The vulture, lighting on one of the dry branches above the boy, sat triumphantly preening and smirking, and even plucked a few old feathers to drop on the boy's head in contempt.
The boy, however, would not be defeated. Carefully he collected the feathers, fixed them to his stick, and with the resultantly accurate arrow, shot the surprised vulture through the heart. The young lady riding in the first car became instantly upset.
How could you be so careless when we're all dressed up like this, anyway? In a minute the young lady was at his side. I want this done right," the young lady answered, as she grabbed the jack handle with just enough suddenness that the young man lost his balance and fell over backward into a patiently waiting mud hole. While these events came into being to form a permanent, though small, part of the history of the universe, the young driver of the second car was, not many miles away, even then climbing out of his vehicle into the rain and opening the trunk. His date, in a very ladylike manner, and with due concern for her precious gown, stayed in the car with her hands folded in her lap.
She generously took care to look away from the young man's labors in order not to cause him embarrassment, and, when he slipped down and bumped his head on the fender as he tried to loosen a particularly intransigent lug nut, she very kindly turned on the radio. The third young man, though he encountered different raindrops on a different road on this night, realized similarly that he, too, was destined to be wet, and pushed open the door with resolve.
However, as he climbed out of the car, the young lady he had been driving home got out also. And watch she did. Oh, she held the lug nuts to keep them from getting lost, but to speak truly, she was not really of any help and she did get drenched. As he changed the tire, the young man looked at the young lady once or twice, only to see her gown melting and her hair dripping down her face, and no doubt he thought, "What a sight she is.
Well, I've told you this story as evidence of the foolishness and irrationality of the human heart. For now observe the consequent:. The first young lady, naturally concerned for her safety and realizing that she possessed knowledge that her young man did not, quite reasonably chose to change the tire. However, the young man, fool that he was, was never seen escorting this capable and logical young lady again. The second young lady, very sensibly concerned about preserving an expensive dress and realizing that she would be of little or no help to her young man, showed a similar wisdom in avoiding what she knew would be the consequences of leaving the car.
But, even though her judgment was vindicated when she observed, in the form of the drenched, muddy, and bleeding young man, exactly those consequences she had predicted, the young man himself, blind and irrational as he was, was also never again seen escorting this thoughtful and discerning young lady. Even stranger and more perverse as it must seem, however, the third young man, even after observing the silly and unreasonable behavior of his date, even after seeing her soaked to the skin, her gown ruined, her hair plastered against her neck, her mascara running down her cheeks in little inky rivulets--even after observing all this, not only was he seen escorting her frequently to other entertainments, but eventually he offered her a ring.
After all, the most beautiful part of a given day is known only after dark, and the best path up the mountain--which I take to be the path of true wisdom--is seen only from the top. Year after year, therefore, arrived with hope and left disappointed; new generations were born and millions of hopeful readers mingled their own dust with that of the earth without the benefit of even a phrase of Professor de Laix' wisdom. Then one spring his colleagues and students noticed that he was gradually becoming more and more animated, and was heard occasionally to mutter, "Yes, yes, that's right, that's right.
I see it all now! Now it can be written! Everything is completely clear! So clear! Ha ha! Now I understand! Now, at last, I understand! After this brief speech, he burst out of the coffee shop leaving his students with expressions of amazement and an unpaid bill and began to run toward his office where he could finally sit down and produce his great work. Now at last he could pour forth his hitherto inexpressible wisdom to fertilize the orchards of culture and bring into being a new and wonderful fruit for civilization to munch upon. Unfortunately, in his highly focused and externally oblivious rush toward his office, he neglected to watch for the traffic as he crossed the busy boulevard between the coffee shop and the university for academia is often separated from the rest of life by just such a metaphor , and as a result he was tragically but thoroughly run down by a fully loaded manure truck, whose cargo had been produced after only one day's rumination, and whose owner also hoped that it would swell the fruit on the trees of a less figurative orchard.
At first the appeal of the humakins was irresistible, and most humans chose them over other humans for spouses. What human female could compete with an always slim, beautiful, and lively imitation? And what human male could compete with an always confident, correct, and handsome construction? In fact, the word "humakin" quickly became a synonym for "perfect," as in, "That's a really humakin car," or "This pie tastes just humakin. To the consternation of many, however, while the humakins could construct more of themselves in a factory, the humans could produce more of themselves only by following the ancient method of their ancestors, so that the result of the marriages between flesh and plastic was the eventual decline of the human race.
When about nine tenths of the persons on the planet consisted of the precisely fabricated humakins and only one tenth of the really human, quite an odd and unexpected situation arose. It had become so unusual to see, for example, a woman wearing glasses or a man with wind-blown hair that such a detail now took on a natural appeal to some of the other humans. One bright morning at breakfast in a fancy resort dining room, a human female, almost as lovely as a humakin, sat chatting with a humakin male who had condescended to sit with her.
Suddenly she inadvertently spilled a glass of tomato juice onto her white tennis dress. While her humakin companion predictably stood up and stared at her with horror, across the room a human male who had just witnessed the event was so filled with ardor and longing that he almost broke the table in his rush to get over to her and make her acquaintance. His excitement to declare his affection left him without the capacity for coherent speech, so that only tentative and confused phrases stumbled from his mouth.
In the midst of his babbling, though, he could see, in the welling dew of the woman's eyes, the tenderness of regard he had inspired. As other humans, too, began to grow weary of the expectation of constant perfection in their relationships, scenes similar to this one began to be repeated with increasing frequency. A loose shoe lace, a chipped fingernail, a shiny nose--all gradually became sources of romantic and emotional attraction, and those very characteristics that had before been viewed as defects soon came to be seen as emblems of the truly and desirably human, as guarantees of that unique inner fire that no amount of perfectly crafted plastic could equal.
The word "human" now began to be associated with the genuine, the natural--and the beautiful. It became not uncommon to hear a young lady remark to her admirer as he gently put a flower in her hair, "Oh, what a human thing of you to do. At length, having rediscovered the amorous appeal of their distinctives like freckles and missing buttons and the inability to refold road maps, the humans began to marry each other again. It wasn't many years before a young pledge of one of these new relationships was heard to ask in a tone of frustration, "But Mommy, why must I have a crooked tooth?
If you ask me, you'd be better off choking on a leaf. Sometime later the flowers in the garden woke to find that the bee and the caterpillar had both disappeared. All that they could see now was a shriveled yellow body hanging from the edge of a spider web and a magnificent butterfly flexing its wings in the sun. While his reputation among his disciples and a few others was that he possessed amazing wisdom and insight, many people thought him to be an idle and incoherent fool because, they said, he never provided a practical solution to the problem he was asked about.
Instead he would ask a simplistic question or tell a story whose point was so obscure that many left his presence shaking their heads. Some said that in his youth he had earned and spent large quantities of money, only to turn from what he saw as a life of vanity to the pursuit of wisdom. Others said that had that been true, he was proved all the more fool for giving up the good life for a life of hardship that was of little use to anyone.
Thus, for every person who called him The Wise One with reverence, twenty pronounced his name with irony. Of the stories still not erased by the hand of time, consider these and judge the man as you will:. Now he says he is sorry and will repay me. What should I do? While the questioner left not at all certain about what to do, one of The Wise One's disciples, who had been deeply affected by this exchange, rose and said, "Excuse me, O Wise One, but I must go and reconcile myself to a man I have wrongly ceased to love. Another time a young couple came to The Wise One to settle a great argument.
The old man listened seemingly more politely than attentively as each gave a lengthy explanation of the dispute. Finally the two looked to The Wise One for his decision, both of them more confident than ever of being right. The Wise One reached over to a vase sitting nearby and pulled out a rose. The couple left confused and without resolving their dispute, but they did seem to agree that their trip to The Wise One was worthless. On one occasion two men came to The Wise One on the same day.
The first was a young man unsure about which road to take as he stepped out into the world. The second man had just married a wife and was about to buy a house for them to live in. The first house is nearly new and well designed but damp inside, while the second is light and airy but older and not so well designed. I don't know which to choose. The two men looked at each other, searching each other's face for a glimmer of understanding, which neither found.
My father ruled long and was old when he died, and now I am remodeling his castle. The many books of his great library are in the way of my new banquet hall, and I desire to rid myself of so much old paper. But I do not wish to throw out every book. I want to keep some for the sake of his precious memory. Thus, I have come to you for a principle of selection.
Which books should I keep and which should I burn? Then remove the contemptible stones. With a look of deep thoughtfulness on his brow, the young ruler left the presence of The Wise One and returned to his kingdom. It is not recorded whether this advice was put into effect or whether it helped the young ruler with his decision. There are many other stories about The Wise One, just as there are many other people with their own stories. But these shall suffice to show how one old man exhausted the meager remnant of his days on earth. Whether his life was spent well or ill perhaps even he himself did not know.
Most people thought he was insane until a man who had lived long and experienced much was overheard to say of him, "Only a few people are as wise as this man, for he is engaged in the only search that really matters. This is a story about the architecture of life. For many people inhabit their own lives in just this way, not knowing where they are or how to tell others how to reach them. When the boss called Smervits and Jenkins into the office, Jenkins was very nervous because his plan to salvage the Freeble contract had not worked.
Smervits wasn't worried because he had shrewdly stood by while Jenkins floundered with the contract. Smervits, you didn't fail, but you didn't try anything, either. You're fired. One day the power went off in the mine, leaving the miners in absolute darkness. One miner found a match and lit it. But to someone with greater vision it has value.
It can be changed by his direction into something useful. Then it can be mixed with water and molded into something beautiful. An officer came upon a young soldier so weighted down with weapons and ammunition that he couldn't move. Once in a pleasant garden there stood a tree, from which, legend said, God himself would one day reign. But instead, a group of wicked men broke in and chopped the tree down. They hacked the tree into a beam and nailed a holy man to it, leaving him to die upon a hill. So the tree of hope now had become a beam covered with blood and death.
The chairman of the department asked the young professor how his book was coming along. Said the professor, "Oh, the book is already written; I just haven't put it down on paper yet. A construction worker, watching this scene transpire, decided that what was good enough for academe was good enough for him, so he sat back and opened a beer.
Presently his foreman came along and wanted to know what was going on. Said the worker, "Oh, the hole is already dug; I just haven't taken out the dirt yet. A man on foot approached an abandoned auto wrecking yard that still had many old pieces of assorted cars lying around.
The next day another man on foot approached the same yard. A few days later the second man drove away in his own car. As the light began to fade, the youths happened upon a snake, sitting on a rock to get the last warmth it could find before the cold night set in. Now we'll have to worry about that snake crawling all over us as we sleep. What a fun time. I'm so glad I was there. Dotty's Trotter; 2. Sure Win; 3. Also Ran; 4. High Risk; 5. Looking Good; 6. Outside Chance; 7.
King Alphonso. Soon the race started. The horses bolted from the gate and took off at top speed. Looking Good looked good around the first turn. I'm winning! At length the horses came into the final stretch, and, except for King Alphonso, who trailed rather substantially, there were only a few lengths between the leader and the trailing horse.
But in that final, all-consuming, frenzied gallop, where mere wish and common effort give way to inner strength and spiritual power, the spaces increased, so that finally the children, with their feelings crushed by the surprise of unexpected failure and by the dismay of dashed hope, watched the horses run across the finish line in this order: 1.
Outside Chance; 2. Also Ran; 3. Dotty's Trotter; 4. Sure Win; 5. High Risk; 6. Looking Good; 7. While the girl burst into unrestrained sobbing, the boy, feeling the full difficulty of the conflict between youth and manhood, choked his tears back, and knowing his father to be a philosophical type, tried to see the metaphorical application of this event.
Appearances and labels are often false and seldom accurately reflect inner realities. We must not let our casual perceptions influence our beliefs or rule our actions. I bet on Outside Chance because he previously has consistently outperformed the other horses in today's race, or horses that have beat the others. I care not about his name. Read where it says that God does not judge by external appearances, and imitate him. May you learn to resolve it well. A little while later, she met an older girl who seemed to be experienced in the ways of freedom.
Another time she met a young man who seemed to know about the free life. And so they went to his van and drove to a vacant lot where the young man kissed her and "liberated" her and told her to leave and drove away. Many days later--days that passed without recognition or remembrance--the girl found herself sitting on a bench waiting for a bus in the middle of the desert. As she sat there gazing at the distant mountains, conscious of little more than the rising heat, she heard herself say, "I don't know what to do.
The voice was that of an old woman with bony hands. And I can do anything I want to. Thanks for all the great comments. I agree that it should never be taken seriously — but then why use it at all? I think this is one business maxim that needs to go. Joe Idar: Thanks for your example. Toby: A customer reputation engine. What a great idea!
Why are we only rating suppliers and products? In India you have public sector units — Owned by the Govt. The employees are Govt employees paid even if the company is making losses. The customer is right started because of those organisations which did not have to compete.
In acompetitive environment interests of employees and customers balance like guns vs butter. You pamper employees you lose customers, you pamper customers you lose employees. Organisations will find their own level depending on the competition and availability of necessary labour. Actually, the author is missing the point.
The Customer notice the caps is always right. Having held customer service positions for a half dozen companies over a dozen years, in every capacity from front-line-grunt my characterization to VP of Customer Services Worldwide, I can agree with everything this author is saying in principle.
Without that customer, that project, endeavour or initiative is dead on arrival. Granted, sometimes that is not a bad idea. There are situations where your company should never have pursued a project in the first place, but then you need to calculate the costs of abandoning that project. One more reason: for any consulting to be of interest, the customer is in need of being right but is currently wrong at something.
This is actually why Starbucks is so sucessful. They have a very employee oriented company policicy, but at the same time do what is needed to make customers happy. At my old job, running photo for a Walgreens, I got chewed out every day, my coworkers as well. And there was nothing we could do about it. Even those people we were able to get out of the store quickly by just remaking their drinks or whatever the case was.
Which means the profits the company wants. About the customer review idea, the one where customers can be identified as someone you should avoid:. I would sue the owner of the website into the stone age for slander, libel and a host of other charges. That is what customer service is really about. For those customers that are always happy, you just do every properly and by the books, and a good employer will protect their own. I agree with everything on this page.
I used to work in a bar in London. A cheap bar, where people would come in to have their skinfull of beer and go clubbing. It was the type of pub where people would demand the earth but pay for dirt. Unruly, rude customers would promptly be refused service and shown the door.
Polite customers would be served quickly. After a few months of this policy, our number of nice customers went up exponentialy. The nasty ones found elsewhere to get drunk. I ended up working in a very pleasant but still cheap pub, with customers I liked. All for telling one or two or ten customers to leave.
If your customers want to fly to Wichita, then they are right — and you are wrong if you insist on flying planes to Tacoma instead. If your customers prefer Pepsi, then they are right — and you are wrong for providing Coke instead. The entire idea of a business is to exchange your goods and services for their money. Therefore, if you want their money, you need to listen to what they want. That is, they are always right. Did you even read the entire article? No one with a healthy self-respect will stay in an environment like that. There are some shirts, hats or people I find offensive, but if that flight was in the USA, the first amendment takes precedence over any FAA regulations and the guy should sue the airline for violating his right of free speech.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts should take a look on how they treat their employees. For this company its all about revenue first, customers second and employees last. Oh my stars! You are sooo right! People these days grow up with the notion that the customer is always right and they abuse customer relations with that myth! In fact, the customer is often stupid, irate, and confused! More power to you! The reader knows what a customer is and most likely understands what it means to be right.
The definition is literal and obvious, and can be extracted by simple examination of the subject and predicate. Yes, the whole point of the old line TCIAW states that one must listen to their customers, but the point of the article is revolving around customers who abuse it or are, indeed, just plain wrong , or companies who cater to said customers. Certain types of disruptions are not protected, and that concept applies to an extreme in situations like airports and airplanes.
You will also note that hate speech is also pretty much not protected. You could be refused service or entry into a public place for wearing the same type of hat or shirt. I agree, in part, to what you say. The tricky part is when you have customers who make complaining a hobby, or a habit. I wish you the best of success for the future. Deva: Good point. Governments, and indeed all large monopolies, have a tendency to be indifferent to the needs of their customers. In other companies that compete in the market, pampering the employees means better customer service means keeping you customers.
Leslie: Exactly! Some customers are just not right — at least for your business. Somewhere out there, another supplier may be a perfect fit for this customer. And if not, at least they will be making life hell for one of your competitors instead of for you :o. In most businesses, one should at least give the customer some sort of security in order to keep them loyal; however saying that all customers are alike is a fallacy.
Some customers are much better to service than others and some customers you may not want at all. This is escalated in the fact that as a web based service provider I have no clue who my customers really are. I tend to find that the level of customer service provided, is based more on the cost effectiveness of the resolving the situation the customer is complaining about.
When customers purchase a product or services with an incorrect understanding of the required performance or deliverable, that creates stress on the customer service organication who are put in the unenviable position of trying to be mediator. This is generally in my experience caused by a sales staff who is undertrained or has unrealistic sales quota expectations placed upon them. At the enterprise tools level software, hardware, whatever , this is most often caused by the sales staff having an incomplete understanding of the capabilities of the product.
Often, they are talking with highly technical individuals who may or may not have a tremendous amout of contextural experience and present questions to the sales staff at that level. They also have plenty of problems having being a state run monopoly into a profit making company in a deregulated industry as well to deal with. This would be a service that almost everybody has used domestically for most of thier life, and taken for granted, an institution. Let alone our responsibilities to the hundreds of other countries involved in the service.
I manage an athletic footwear store, a franchised chain that is regarded highly throughout Australia as one of the best customer service providers in the country. If the customer persists and decides against all logical argument to buy based on fashion rather than function, it is on their own head. And they welcome it. We control the sale from start to finish. We sell on function, not fashion. Our largest selling product and by that I mean a shoe in M and W fit that suits a variety of foot types has come in varied colours and styles over the last five years.
Technology updates, colour updates etc. This inspires a trust in the customer that they will be purchasing a product that suits their needs, regardless of whether or not it matches a gym outfit. I digress, but us selling the product in the colour they want gives them a little too much control regarding the actual sales system we use, so we recommend against picking on aesthetics. We rarely, if ever, lose sales based on the colour of the shoe when sticking to the sales system. In summary — the customer is always wrong.
WE are always right, because we know more about their feet by looking at them standing than they could know if 50 years of walking around on them, and we have the knowledge and werewithal to make sure that the customer is in the right footwear. In reference to this post. After having worked in customer service and running my own small business I have concluded that the customer is often wrong and needs to be asked to leave or declined further business.
I will no longer tolerate being spoken to like a bad dog, nor will I allow my staff. With reference to a few comments about freedom of speech issues. The world is bigger than Amercia and the rest of us non Amercians can feel at time that it is plain silly that you defend the indefensible with a reference to 1st Amendments rights.
I would not say that the customer is often wrong. But yes, he is sometimes. However, for companies which have few high worth clients it becomes very difficult to say no to demanding customers. My personal experience something to talk about. The client being a big business group always did things their own way. They wanted us to be at their office whenever they had an idea no matter how irrelevant or wild they were to discuss.
No talks via telephone. Moreover, whenever we worked on their brief they would insist us to be available throughout the night so they may contact us anytime to give their feedback. I spent many nights on the office lounge in the reception waiting for that fax which gave instructions on what to do further. It was very frustating. No one had the courage to tell the client how we work and ask him to mend ways.
The end result I quit the job and took up something which was low paying but did not stretch beyond normal time. Carr that I, at least fully understand his point about individuals. I fully believe that the OA Offended Attendant and the 1st Officer were making a personal decision about the offending item. I do believe there is congressional oversight and that the agency in question is fully part of the government. When does it end.
Put it this way:. Is that ok? Suppose Continental decides that they are incurring personal-injury lawsuit exposure when passengers wear flip-flops on flights. Something goes wrong, passengers get cuts on their feet, they sue the airline deep pockets for not warning them. The big C then decides they can force customers to wear alternate footware as a safety issue, based on the FAA crewmember telling you so. At least the last supposition has the pretense of safety, and that is important. Safety is the reason for the regulation and the basis for my relinquishing certain control over my own person during a flight.
Perhaps the phrase should be altered slightly.. Perhaps if the object was so offensive, other customers on the flight might have been getting angry and upset. Surely in this instance, the FAA rules would have come into play. Also, depending on the age of the child, I dread to think of the kind of life they must lead, if the parent saw no problems with them wearing that.
I worked for Starbucks for a while, and when I was promoted to a supervisor, I let my baristas know that I had their back. I stayed out of sight for a moment, to see what the matter was without my interferene. The customer wanted something that—in the time frame she was demanding— violated basic thermodynamics it had to do with the amount, stiffness, and heat of foam. Would you like a free coffee?
Which is, by the way, illegal in this area. But at the Starbucks where I worked, about one in thirty was an ass. Maybe it was just there area full of aging yuppies , but there you have it. The market may always be right, and one should give the customer the benefit of the doubt. It seems like Starbucks is one company that gets this and backs up its employees. Is that fair to say or was that just you? This has been a valuable discussion.
But the question here rides on the minority of customers who are NOT right. They ask for the impossible, or their behavior is unacceptable. And so far, the advice here has been laudable. However, their is a problem. Some customers are clearly not worth it, and can be easily sloughed off, to the benefit of all. Yet some customers are the lifeblood of the enterprise and need to be catered to, even when they behave like prima donnas. The Tome Sawyer approach, where insolence is rewarded. Good employees leave, and then, likely, so do the painful rich customers.
So it depends. But how do you manage the obnoxious RICH customer whose work you need, without alienating or buringin out your workers? When you agree with a customer, you reconfirm their notion that they were right and you were wrong. This confirms their bad impression of you. Sometimes firmly stating the truth about how things are and the fact that you are not wrong can change the relationship around for the better. We have found that blunt truth instead of lots of apologise makes things better.
Crusader Coyote brings up a very good point, i. I worked at a gas station while going to school I also managed one for a number of years back in the s. One day, a grungy looking chap saunters in demanding a pack of cigarettes. No problem, right? Well, he wanted to pay for them with food stamps. This is blatantly illegal. But the customer is always right, right?
I should of just handed over the smokes in exchange for the stamps and wished him a happy day? Get out of here! In the time I worked in retail, I told a very, very small number of people to get the hell out and never come back. These were folks that became emotionally and even physically violent swearing like a drunken sailor, throwing items in the store at me or the cashier, etc. My favorite incident involved a shrill young woman who, after flinging packs of cigarettes about, demanded to speak to the manager.
Now get out before I call the cops. Fortunately, these folks are the exception. I had far more customers who were friendly, appreciative, and fun to joke around with. I had several who would come in because they knew we could trade good-natured barbs and have a lot of laughs. Then there were the really hot chicks….
Anyway, the customer is NOT always right. Not even close. There are limits. Go ahead and throw a fit about your meal at the local restaurant. I shudder to think what will happen to your food back in the kitchen. Go ahead and scream at that clerk who just happens to know your credit card number. Bad behavior can cause some unintentional consequences, let me tell you.
The boneheads that act as if they discovered a dead-sea scroll when they say not to abuse their own employees are laughable. Literal minded as all get out. I am american in California. The customers were for the most part rich enough or prominent enough so they yes, they were always right. They were Mr. But no one with a brain ever should have assumed it meant to endlessly indulge the jerks or.
And maybe the law of gravity? What other blinding discoveries are made here? This is an extremely interesting article. I loved the article.
No. 4: Dutch Directness
I used to work for KMart and I remember there would be plenty of customers who came in on a regular basis and abused the employees and complained every time they were there. Why do these people continue to go to places like that? As an employee, I always felt betrayed when a manager would step in and go against policy to keep a rude customer. Kevin F: Good point. Ken: Great point. I remember one situation where I finally blew up at a difficult customer.
From that moment on I had their respect and I became their favorite contact at our company. Frank Drebbin: I agree. And yet some do, both customers and companies, to the detriment of the employees, the customers AND the bottom line. Qbert: Thanks for the real-life confirmation that these things go on in the real world.
I thought then, and think now, that it was horseshit. We had two regular customers that complained about everything every single time they came in. They complained they were shorted on cheese with their nachos, even though the cheese was weighed on every order. Way to make money!
I knew a guy who took a test to become assistant manager. One of the questions involved a group of people who bought pizza and then sat out in the lot with a cooler full of beer, harassing other customers and throwing empty cans on the lot. He payed me with a 50, but when I gave the change to him, he said he paid with a I had to double check but the results were the same. Then he started yelling and complaining all around.
I went to the manager and explained the situation. He then went with the client. When the client complained about the missing money, he tooked a 50 from his wallet and gave it to him. He backs up his employee and gets rid of a difficult customer at the same time. As a small business owner I have always held the philosophy that the customer was always on the scam.
My experience in the Wireless Industry, in particular in my current position as store manager has shown me a lot of these examples. I have gone as far as to tell a customer threatening me that I would accept his challenge and go outside with him. The guy comes in once a week now, brings me coffee sometimes, and he has even refered business to me. Sometimes putting your foot down at the right time, and the right way will actually win you additional business.
Other times the customer is upset and will not return — I take care of my guys first and foremost. I got paid to keep people out of trouble. You wanna stay out of trouble, do as I tell you. LOTS of replies, but I just wanted to put my two cents worth. This is an awesome article, and after my experience working fast food for 7 years 5 of which as manager while going to college it is totally dead on.
It does go both ways though, and if I go into an establishment and get bad or rude service without any action from me , I simply leave and choose smoeone else. A business dependent on a few customers has a business-plan problem unless those are great customers. Great business and great customers are a solid combination.
Some very large companies are too dependent on a few customers. For example, if you make parts for very large airliners there are only two makers: Airbus and Boeing. Some companies do bow out of that squeeze, instead concentrating on smaller makers and military airplanes though those big-two are in military markets as well. But it can happen — years ago in Seattle electrical building contractors were shunning Boeing despite hard times in their industry because Boeing was not treating them properly. You were in the right and that guy was being a total jerk.
Try not to let it get to you. OK, try and get the employee to pay the bills instead of the client. I would suggest to my problem customers that my competition could help them better — I liked to share the pain. I used to work at a hardware store, and like cmc said in a previous post, customers would demand unreasonable and in some cases unsafe things. There is a difference between a customer who has a legitimate and reasonable complaint and goes about lodging their dissatisfaction in a manner that is consistent with a basic respect for civil ethics ie.
My superiors never understood that these people were abusing the spirit of customer service, and that ironically by taking up so much of my time, are in fact hurting customer service as a whole. I would spend two hours out of my week with this one customer who was never satisfied with any purchase he has ever made with the company I worked for.
He cried to management and they gave him gift certificates! I ended up quitting. Most stores have a percentage of their budget worked in to placate unreasonable customers, but it is also reflected in the prices you pay, like the same principle with shoplifting. All in all, as a consumer I feel that when I go shopping it is an equal exchange. They have something I want, I have something they want. Consumers need to educate themselves as to what they want when they go shopping. I expect cheap food delivered quickly.
If I go to a five star restaurant, then I expect another level of service, but I also expect to pay for that service. Btw, Alex, your observation that disrespected employees provide bad service is right on the mark. Needless to say, she got a lot of extra orders of nachos topped with dog turds, fish hooks, and a lot of other stuff left at her house. Contra Jeff above, no, the customer is not always right. Commerce is an exchange between equals.
Would anyone want this guy working for him? When people are put in a bad situation that they feel powerless to change or escape from, you often see them becoming either apathetic or covertly rebellious. It tends to brings out the worst in people and make them behave badly, immaturely and spitefully. The worst part is that this rarely, if ever, brings a solution any closer.
Some customers are really just not worth keeping. One of my friends is a customer account manager with one of the major telcos, and when I was with him once, I actually witnessed him telling the customer off and informing the customer that if he should continue to make unreasonable demands, the company regrets that a business relationship will no longer be possible. This theory absolutely needs to be applied to healthcare. I work in a hospital myself.
The census got low over the summer, and the administration who all have the MBA Disease of milking the organization and running it into the ground to inflate the quarterly balance sheet decided to let the staff go down by attrition. They downsized not only nursing staff, but the night shift ward secretaries and an employee health nurse who had been there for 30 years. And yet they have the utter gall to spring this filthy, demeaning, manipulative Fish! Philosophy bullshit on us to try to jolly us into enjoying being screwed.
The worst of it is, their cost-cutting measures are pennywise, pound foolish. Patients are more likely to judge a hospital by how long it takes to get a call light answered than by whether the building looks like a palatial hotel or the landscaping looks like the hanging gardens of babylon. And the offsetting savings from that alone would probably make it a net efficiency: the main cause of hospital-acquired MRSA infections, falls, and the like is understaffing.
Yet they try to solve all these problems through everything BUT adequate staffing: slogans, cheerleading, micromanagment, more tracking forms, in-services, handouts, revival meetings. Never mind all the crap like said ACE unit that they deliberately waste money on instead of staffing. And frankly, the costs from employee disgruntlement probably amount to more than the cost of adequate staffing.
They figure, rightly, that the hospital is saving enough on staffing costs that they might as well save themselves a few seconds of precious time when the call-lights are stacked up six deep. I work for a major achitectural hardware manufacture as a tecnical services representative. I was recently disciplined for hanging up on a customer who looking more for a fight than he was help with his issue.
He was verbally abusive and according to him we were all idiots.
Deadbeat Parents Who Won’t Help Pay for College
I asked the customer twice to calm dowm and be civil as I really did want to help him with his problem. His response was to launch into another tirade at which point I terminated the call. The customer did not give up. He called into the company through another channel after which he was redirected back to me. I informed the csr on the other end that this customerwas on record as being abusive and i would not help him. An half-way decent option would be to placate the customer while telling you, you did right.
An even better option would be to fire the customer. NurseJ and disgruntled: Thanks for the input from the health sector. I had never thought it might apply there, but it seems it does. In a two-hour visit to a large mall today, I faced:. And, why was I on such a shopping spree? US Airways lost my large suitcase on the first day of a 17 day business trip…5 suits, 4 pairs of shoes, a brand new briefcase and a variety of other items have to be replaced. I am a nurse and work in a busy ED where the wait to be seen grows longer and longer.
We are now reqired to see those who complain and are the most abusive, first, instead of those who are the most ill. This policy flies in the face of what we, as trained professionals, are trying to do in order to ensure the sickest of our patients are seen first. Business people have now become self-proclaimed medical experts and exert their control over every field of medicine and nursing.
Customer service has gone too far in our industry. We are not dealing with faulty merchandise of poorly made retail items. Our product is human beings with serious diseases. No two are alike and not everyone who enters the ED is at the brink of death, quite the contrary. Our primary job is to take care of those who are at the brink of death and not listen to the rantings of irrational individuals who think their stuffy nose or toothache that started 20 minutes ago is a priority. Patients can demand tests and drugs and we are obliged to provide this even if the physician and nurse do not think this necessary.
Staff and hospitals are now judged by customer service surveys and have to bend over backwards or forwards to comply with obtaiing positive ratings. Sadly, the medical professions have handed over control of patient care to a group of wealthy businessmen who can only see the color green! Great Article…. This has all proven to be very helpful in researching and writing about customer service. When is this outlandish term going to be abolished? I work in customer service for a living, been doing so in the telecommunications industry for 15 years now. Before that, I worked for three years at a major grocery store.
Good example: I was at the local Publix the other day, and this lady was holding up the line because her Nestle coupon was not acceptable to get her a discount on Haagen Daas ice cream. Lo and behold, the managers let her have it! When I questioned them on this, they stated that she did this every week, and this was the best was to get rid of her and get the lines moving again.
Companies worry about losing customers, but this can also hurt the company anyway. If one abusive customer can get away with something, then every one of them will catch on and be allowed to do it as well. This leads to loss of revenue, thereby putting a company out of business. I had earlier mentioned outlandish requests from customers, but did not cite any examples of what I have dealt with over the years.
There are two incidents that come to mind, dating at least back within the past ten years or so. I was a toll operator for a major phone company. This lady, who I will never forget, called him totally upset and ugly, demanding that I interrupt a busy line for her. I, trying to keep calm for her, told her it was not a problem, but we could not guarantee the party on the line would agree to clear it for her.
I advised her I may need her entire name being the parties on this line may not be familiar with just the first name and therefore may not agree to release the line to call through on. She became enraged and demanded that I provide my entire name. I told her my first name only being due to hostile customers wanting to look up people, I could not provide my entire name. When I came back to Valerie and advised her, she demanded a supervisor, which I was happy to connect her to. Of course, I fought it and had this black mark removed, but it took nearly six months of meetings to do it.
Meanwhile, it had also turned out that Valerie not only made me pay for her upsetting day, but had also done everything she could to have that nurse fired, the one who would not release the line. She was out to even cost one or more people their careers because of her bad day. Meanwhile, our managers coddled this woman to death, no matter how wrong she was. It should also be mentioned a month or so later, I got her again, and when I got her, I immediately gave her my supervisor without any preamble. The other incident I recall is the man who had his phone shut off for not paying his bill.
My job was customer service, not collections, yet this man did everything he could to get around being connected to that department. I politely advised him that the phone had been shut off for non-payment and that I could connect him to the appropriate person to help him. He interrupted me, saying he had a statement in his hand showing his bill was due later in the month and that we had no right to shut off his service. I explained the bill is correct in that the current charges were due later in the month, but the past due amount was unpaid and needed to be paid to restore his service.
He became hostile, told me to stop interrupting him and let him talk. Okay, not a problem. He again proceeded to read the bill conveniently forgetting a past due notice had been mailed to him and insisted the bill was showing it needed to be paid later in the month pause. I responded again with the fact that it related to the current charges. Next thing I know, it was like a bomb had gone off.
I again told him billing does not handle this type of issue, but collections could. Get me your supervisor. By this point, I gave up and went to hunt for a supervisor. It took ten long minutes to do it. Every two minutes, per requirement of the job, I had to come back and tell him we were still waiting to get a supervisor. Each time I came back he would tell me to stop talking to him and get him what he wanted.
After ten minutes, one came on to the phone, and I got to listen in. This guy advised my supervisor that I was calling him a liar, kept overtalking him, and kept speaking to him after placing him on hold to tell him about a supervisor was on the way when he told me to stop talking to him. It took five more minutes just for my supervisor to explain the policy of hold times, and employees could be terminated if the customer was on hold for a lengthy amount of time.
But, after that, my supervisor apologized for my behavior on the phone, assuring him I would be dealt with accordingly! Also, she agree to turn on his phone, not require him to make a payment, plus waived the reconnect fee normally billed for non paying customers. Every month, he would call in after the phone was shut off, and the moment a courteous person would talk to him, he would purposely become hostile, would not allow the rep to transfer him to collections, and would do the same thing about how rude the rep was to him.
In nearly five of these calls, supervisors all sided with this customer, and all of them agreed to provide outlandish things, like two months of free phone service, and no reconnect fee be billed. In each case, managers also sided with the customer for fear of losing their business. As with the second story, that man had cost the phone company a few hundred dollars with the free services he received for his ugly, nasty behavior, and Valerie in the first story got her way no matter what.
It makes you wonder if these are the type of people who would commit murder to get what they want. I should say that I did not tell Valerie that she was being hostile and therefore I could not provide my entire name. I only told her that because of company policy, we did not provide our entire names to customers. The policy we did not tell customers was due to security and the possibility of hostile customers wanting to look up certain company employees, we only will provide our first names, and if the customer demands an entire name, we were to refer that to a supervisor.
How about when you are the customer? Are you ever wrong? It all depends on who the customer is. Do you see what a good company Publix is and how they are a major grocer in Florida. I am a licensed practical nurse at a long-term and rehab facility. Most of our patients and their families are wonderful, considering their circumstances.
However, we have our share of rude and obnoxious patients and even more rude and obnoxious family members. When they complain about a staff member, the administration always sides with them and the staff member gets disciplined without recourse. No one advocates for us. Granted, they are under immense physical and emotional stress, but that is no justification to abuse people whose job it is to help them or their relative.
Therefore, we will be glad to assist you in placing her in another facility. Ironically, the worst offenders are often health care providers themselves! I told her that this was a violation of HIPAA, the laws that govern confidentiality of patient information, and that if my mother was a patient of her employer, I would hardly be allowed to go into the office to look at her chart. This was unprofessional behavior and she completely overstepped her bounds. I left my unit manager a note about this. Thanls for giving me the chance to vent.
Thanks for giving me the chance to vent. Bill, from November 9th. You apparently missed the point I was making. Yes, I am at times also the customer, but I also know the different between right and wrong, and what is reasonable and what is not. Yes, Publix is a great company and my favorite grocery store to shop at.
My point on that was it is also the major grocer in South Florida that deals with many of these type of people, and much of the time they give in due to the fact the customers know this. Having myself subjected to 6years of customer service line has made me realize that that phrase is bullshit. From clueless idiots to unreasonable buggers, and even people who cuss at you because they are having a bad day or not getting what they want immediately.
After which, he called her superior and complained about not having his calls transferred within 5mins. Humans err. Through communication, we could understand what each individual need and what could be the best solution. But it takes two hands to clap, i hope that both customers and customer service officers could make the effort as well. The nurse again. Finally, someone is on our side! What would the father do then? The idiom was created in the first place because customer service was universally bad at that time.
Companies picked up on it because it gave them a competitive advantage. It seems that the pendulum is swinging back to another equilibrium point — that is, until people get fed up with bad service again, and service once again becomes a competitive advantage. His M. Vendors, unfortunately, are not so quick to do that for obvious reasons. He gets off sending emails detailing how I could do my job better.
He has been rude to a really nice Customer Service lady that helps me on the inside. He insisted that my company fly in product he wanted from Japan at our expense, of course to meet a very short deadline, only to cancel the order after the product he wanted was already en-route.
My supervisors have been kept copied on all emails and call details with regard to this person. Many of them have left the building humiliated and angry because of this man. The customer is always right? Those that uphold this ridiculous maxim, I submit, are the same ones that would abuse it for their selfish purposes. I work as a materials estimator for a medium-sized building supply company. Everyday I am dealing with customers who want to do their building on the cheap, thus sacrificing quality and safety for the sake of dollars.
I refuse to put my name on something I know will be unsafe or unsatisfactory. Doing this in the past when I was far more inexperienced cost the company time and money, voiding the initial benefit of the sale by a mile. Working in any customer-related industry, there is a desire to keep customers satisfied. I often have to remind customers that we are in business to make money first and make people happy second. When a customer walks into my office, I view our relationship as a mutually benefical one: he has something we want money , we have something he wants materials. I am confident that I can service the customer better than our competitors and that is why I feel the customer has chosen to work with me, rather than someone else.
But by sticking to my ethics and not just simply heaping platitudes upon the customer and then selling him whatever he wants, I feel that I am giving him the best customer service for what he is spending. This is a great post. Now, of course we as business owners can also be wrong, sometimes we are at fault when customers get upset. I find the customers that return things, for the most part, are the most difficult ones and cause my company to lose money. Rather than offering free return shipping and other incentives to convince them to buy, I do the opposite.
This page has been a breath of fresh air. I have worked at Dairy Queen and a local bank here as a Client Service Representative, and I can tell you I have lost hairs and my health in this stupid client services business. People are totally unreasonable, iodiotic and seems to me that they come from another world.
I am trying desperatley to get out and get a job somwehere else, where there will be not much requirements for client services. If I have had it, enough is enough. Seems to me that people find anything to complain about. There was one customer who had been special ordering a certain hard to find dog food from our store. After I was hired I was placed in charge of the responsibility of ordering her food. She expected us to always have the food in stock, but no hold it for two long.
She expected it to be placed onto a cart from the back room, loaded into our car, and rung out while she stood by the door. This is not very available dog food. Regardless of the fact that I had a months worth paperwork detailing the 3 orders, transfer requests, and estimated delivery dates for her dog food she decided to call the company headquatrers and complain about me.
I was enraged because there was nothing I could of done besides drive to miles round trip to get her dog food. Apparently that was the appropriate thing to do. So I gathered up the products margins, estimated delivery costs based on national transportation averages, gas prices, etc, time spent ordering and preparing her order and even with conservative estimates found that Petco was actually losing money with her transactions. My attitude and customer service was never the same. I worked as a floor support technician in a certain large entertainment company cannot reveal any more info other than that!
There were clear layers of customer support escalation from 1st level, 2nd level, dept management, on up. We lower-level employee techs were pretty-much dictated to by our immediate managers about TCIAR for the other floor employees we provide technical service to. We floor technicians handled every technical service call from customers coming our way.
If a VIP needed any sort of attention or hand-holding for a technical issue, though, we had to drop any other service we were performing for the company and RUN to do the VIPs bidding. Management would often not listen to such customers until their service issues were more forcefully emphasised. Yes, its true! Note that there are other large institutions already noted by other commentators above that practice the same attitude.
I worked at Wal-Mart, in the sporting goods department, while in school. One day a customer called in about a certain shotgun wanting to know the price. Within an hour he was standing in front of me ready to pay for the gun. Only when I removed it from the cabinet did I discover the tag was twisted around another. In fact almost double. The manager agreed with me, but had to take it up the chain to the district manager. The district manager made the decision that I was at fault and the customer should have the gun at half the regular retail price.
I was demoted. Then, I left the company with no more respect for it. Great post. This is real fact. I always buy pampers nappies and have done for 4 years now but i was discusted when i bought a box as usual from my local morrisons store only to open the box to use one an find that most of the nappies were stuck together in the wrong shape, they were size 4 an a box of 88 and only 51 of them was i able to use. A customer is NOT just someone who shows up to spend money at your place of business. Had a weird day a work today.
We blame it on the full moon. Just one day a month, all of you choosing the same day. Not one penny spent, not even lunch or coffee or a pack of gum. Buy what you want, but pick it up from a place you know is friendly and respectful to you and to their employees. Most likely a small, local business Remember, you are also customers, and hey! Having said that, most of our clients are lovely, intelligent, reasonable people. A very few, on the other hand, are obviously very unhappy campers. Miserable, selfish, illogical, mean, overbearing, and just plain wrong, wrong, wrong. Then I stick to my guns.
And customer service is part of my job. In my 35 years of employment, I can only think of two bosses who actually backed up their front line people when the client clearly had unreasonable expectations. BUT never where the customer could hear. Those two bosses treated us with respect.
The issue would later be reviewed, discussed, and possible alternatives were offered. And there was no threat of firing. I think we would have died for those two guys. One was a paint company, so disposal of perfectly good product cost a fortune in expensive, specialized chemical waste treatment. Another went bankrupt because of it. The ex-employees all found work elsewhere or created their own, and we get together once in a while to laugh at the stupidity of middle and upper management.
We tell a lot of dumb boss jokes. We think of them with the same contempt and disrespect we were subjected to, when we think of them at all, then we have another beer and go home. It was a policy that the founder of Nordstroms came up with when he opened his first store in Seattle, WA……in In particular, Americans abuse people in the service industry, because they incorrectly believe they are above reproach. Employees should come first. Very interesting posts. I was in the furniture business for almost 20 years, working for a total of 3 companies in that time. I have done everything from cleaning bathrooms to general manager.
There was a lot of truth to that statement, even though it was usually said in jest. Rude and abusive customers were intentionaly given the very minimum service, if any at all. It allowed us the time, energy and MONEY to go above and beyond the call of duty for those that deserved it. I averaged about two calls a year to the police to remove unruly customers.
The ones remaining in the store were more than appreciative to see the abuser get the boot. Also, as a manager in an industry that has a tremendously high employee turnover rate, I lost a total of three employees during a ten year period. One was fired for cause. One left to become a full time Mom after the birth of her second child. The third moved out of state. Because we treated our employees the way we wanted to be treated…with respect and civility. We demanded the same from anyone wanting to do business with us. We rarely delivered on Saturdays, but usually did before most holidays to do our best to get things delivered on time for the occasion.
A winter storm had dumped three feet of snow overnight and was going to continue throughout Saturday. Before we opened, I called everyone on the delivery schedule to tell them we would do our best to make it if conditions allowed, but I could not make any promises. One customer re-scheduled and the rest politely accepted the attempt at delivery, knowing we might not make it. The store became very busy throuout the day, despite the weather.
Early deliveries were made okay, but as the day ensued, the conditions worsened. I offered my drivers the option to cancel. They declined and kept plugging away. I called each customer on the schedule with an update as the guys made their slow progress. At 4pm, we had only two deliveries left when our truck became stranded in the snow. The first customer understood. Then I called the last customer. Mind you, my store was busy and I had to conduct these calls from the counter in full view of of our customers.
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
The last customer waiting for delivery blew up at me. Fine, I always let someone blow off steam for three to five minutes. This went back and forth, on and on to the point that customers had stopped their shopping to listen in. After about ten minutes of this I put her on speakerphone so they could hear her tirade.
I had to go back to the handset when she began throwing the f-bomb every third or fourth word. I immediately told her our business relationship had ended. I would not allow her to talk to my employees the way she had talked to me. I was mailing her a refund check for her deposit and she would be arrested for trespassing if she came into our store. Thern I hung up. The store exploded into applause!