Bent Words

Bent Words

December 16, 2008

I am happy to announce that, today, I successfully ruined someone's Christmas.

How, do you ask, was I able to singlehandedly shake the foundation of this fine holiday? First, let me puke and then I shall tell you.

No, I did not, in Grinch-like fashion, set fire to a picturesque evergreen nursery on the east side of town nor did I map out a route and proceed to meticulously rip the very diligent work of this past Sunday's gaudy decorations from the sidings of houses. I did not dress myself up in white and blue stockings and wend to greedily intercept droves of sparkle-spewing Christmas cards bearing the best tidings of Hallmark employees hoping to circumvent this impersonal tradition nor did I waylay twenty-seven UPS trucks en route to deliver donated Christmas packages to the expectant nurses at the local children's hospital.

I also did not buy out the entire state's stock of eggnog or poison reindeer at the zoo or convince your neighbors to fill their lawn full of Santa Clause-shaped, blinking, multi-colored lights. I am not responsible for the execution of creating wrapping paper about as useful as toilet paper.

No -- no indeed. What I did was much worse.

Today, upon finding a lull in the day at work and making an earnest attempt to busy myself, I decided to call customers who had specially ordered parts or accessories awaiting pickup at the shop. I poked through dozens of names and special order numbers, diligently wrote down each and every one who had an item waiting for them and, after checking the list twice, proceeded to make calls.

I called little Tom from Buell who, although a good boy so far this year, forgot to pick up his wiring harness last week.

I called Adam Kleppel, not very nice in terms of patience, to inform him that his stator finally arrived.

I called Mr. Pluger, a very kind gentleman with a hearty laugh, to tell him that his $400 engine guards were available for pickup.

I called this person and that person -- those who did not receive calls according to my notification list -- intending to free up some needed money for the store.

In other words, I was doing my job...

Or, at least, I thought I was until I received a call from a very angry Mrs. Pluger regarding a set of rather expensive engine guards.

"This is Laura, how can I help you?"

"What is WRONG with you people?"

"Uhh, excuse me," I asked.

"I ordered a part for my husband about three weeks ago. I didn't receive a call that it was in. I called last night and was told that it was in and now, today, you people call and tell my husband that his Christmas gift, which was supposed to be a surprise, is here -- after I explicitly told you NOT to call this number?" yelled the lady on the other line.

My heart rate went up. Rage does not settle well in my stomach.

"I apologize for the mishap, Ma'am, but the number we have here on our Notification List 'explicitly' states 555-555-1234 -- there is no note in our system or on the package that states to use another number--"

"Don't lie to me," she snapped.

"I'm not lying to you," I said, raising my voice.

"I told him to use this phone number -- 555-555-3333, not the 1234 number so don't tell me that that's what's on your screen."

"I am NOT lying to you. In fact, why don't you stop into the shop and I'll show you, personally, exactly what's on MY SCREEN?"

Rage begets rage.

"Oh, so you people are going to get an attitude with me, an angry customer, instead of fixing the situation?"

"Well, I can't exactly take the phone call back -- all I can do is apologize and hope you realize that I genuinely did not intend to make such a horrible mistake."

"Mistake? MISS TAKE?? You ruined our Christmas!"

"I ruined your Christmas? Are you SERIOUS? Avalanches ruin Christmas. Death ruin Christmas. Black Friday's where pregnant women get trampled ruin Christmas. Target raising their prices on home electronics ruins Christmas. Wal-Mart with their cheap fucking toilet paper Christmas wrap ruins Christmas. Economic upheaval, unemployment, mass murderers, depression -- THEY ruin Christmas! Besides, I didn't take your order so it's not my fault."

I didn't say that. But seriously...

"I want a call back from your manager first thing tomorrow morning or I'm calling Honda to complain," she (MRS. DEANNA PLUGER) threatened.

"Uhhh, you ordered the part from Kuryaken, not Honda, Ma'am."

"Whatever -- if I don't hear back from your manager tomorrow, I'm reporting you."

To who?, I wondered. My Mom? Is she gonna spank me? Send me to my room? Am I gonna get put in the corner for your inability to be civil? Are you going to report me to the UPA (Under-Paid Anonymous)? Is the shop gonna fire me (PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE)?

By this time, I had a pretty nice crowd gathered around me -- I barely noticed them for the fact that I was getting my left leg chewed off by Mrs. I-GET-EVERYTHING-IN-LIFE-EXACTLY-THE-WAY-I-WANT-IT-OR-I-STOMP. She was fuming and that's how I knew it was time to switch to 'sweet mode.'

"I would absolutely love to have my manager call you back first thing in the morning, Ma'am," I said through smiling teeth despite a near heart attack.

"Now, can you find it in your head to recall which phone number you're supposed to use?" she asked, returning the 'tude.

"Hmmm, let me see. Oh! It's not the one in the Notification List with your special order so it MUST be this one which I had to search for in an area completely unrelated to your order. 555-555-3333, right?"


I hung up.

I know I didn't exactly handle the situation professionally. I know I overreacted. I know I should not have gotten so angry despite her impossible attitude. I know I should have been more calm and just offered to take off ten percent of the purchase price to smooth matters over but, OH WELL! Can't take it back and can't strike the earth with one mighty blow and eliminate irrationality and so I'm done. I shed my tears, I had my fit, I reasoned with myself and now I'm just going to have to wait until tomorrow when Bill makes it all better by calling the MRS. DEANNA PLUGER to tell her she's wrong.

Until then -- all my love,


The One Who Ruined Christmas

Written at 10:26 p.m.