I don’t know about you, but I feel very hurt each time I get treated rudely by service people when I never even provoked them in the first place.
But when the anger dissolves by the end of the day, I start to wonder why they’re like that. The wounded child in me, of course, would like to think that they’ve got a bee up their toot.
But the rational adult in me, who sometimes pops out uninvited, would say, “Maybe it’s not entirely their fault.”
Don’t you hate it when you’re forced to be sensible about things? It kinda throws a blanket over the flames of fury you’ve been nicely stoking all day, dreaming up creative BBQ dishes in which your enemies are the main ingredients.
Here’s a case in point:
There’s this “Seoul Street Food” outlet in Bugis Junction that serves up skewered meats fried in all sorts of interesting batter.
The price tags advertise one stick for $1.60, while two go for $3.
That day, I wanted to buy about four different ones because they all looked so good. I started pointing out my choices to the guy, “One of these and one of these…”
At which point he cut in impatiently, “Cannot miss!”
My mind drew a blank as I blinked at him. “Cannot what?”
“Cannot miss! Cannot miss!!” he cawed at me with a shrill voice and a frown.
“Cannot what?” I repeated stupidly.
He raised his voice. “This one cannot miss!!”
“What do you mean by miss?” I asked helplessly.
He switched to Mandarin. “不可以参！”
That was when I got it. He’d meant to say “cannot mix” but must have been slightly gutturally challenged.
He was basically telling me, in the verbal equivalent of shorthand, that if I wanted the special price of $3 for two sticks, I’d have to get two of the same sticks, instead of one of this and one of that.
I was a bit slow on the uptake because I didn’t even realise that there was a discount for buying two sticks. (I don’t look at the price tags very carefully as a habit.)
“Sure, no problem,” I said.
Then he grumpily walked off to the cashier to ring up the purchase without even asking me if I wanted anything else.
What the hell was eating him?!
I swear I didn’t so much as wrinkle my forehead or speak in an unpleasant tone.
While he was packing my two sticks, I asked if I could have my sauce separately packed because I was going to be bringing the food home.
(The sticks are usually drowned in mayonnaise and chilli sauce, which actually makes it very tasty.)
He said something in a scolding tone which I couldn’t really catch, and then he passed me the packet without any sauce whatsoever.
A freeze-frame moment happened as I gaped at him puzzedly.
“Er… what about the sauce?” I finally asked.
That prompted him to lecture me about the food not tasting good without the sauce as he snatched the packet back and squirted sauce onto my sticks.
My conclusion about this guy is that, apart from having a bee permanently stuck up his toot, he may possibly have been driven insane by customers yelling at him for charging them more than they expected.
In order to pre-empt being scolded by unreasonable customers, he goes directly into defence mode and lashes out first before the customer can lash out at him.
And, no, it wasn’t that he was having a bad day or something, because he was happily gossiping and laughing with his colleagues between customers.
I have a similar story about a taxi driver, but I think this entry is already too long and pictureless, which means I’ve probably lost 90% of my readers by this point. Haha.
So, which came first: Unreasonable customers or rude service people?