Customer services

These two words put the fear of god into me like no others. Sweat and shame. Lost it on the phone to the council last week. Shouted at another human being about something neither of us could do anything about. I admit I have a bit of a history. I literally don’t know what would happen if I ever phoned BT Broadband “help” line again. Honestly speaking, I deserved to have my number barred.

In the world of work self-regulation is considered the highest virtue. Since I am not programmed to be nice, I’ve tried a bit of neurolinguistic programming, have the script tattooed on my inside arm for use during staff meetings. “Thank you [gratuitous use of first name], but what can we do to get some action on this?” regularly said in such a way as to bring the full force of a Siberian wind into the room and actually convey the statement “you are useless”. Although a bit of scripting at work can come in handy to limit an open display of venom, essentially it places both of us in the bin of life. The chance of actually fixing anything is banished and we are all neatly stacked in the file marked “THE POINT: QUESTION MARK”. Cue psychic soundtrack: staff meetings are pointless, nobody ever does anything, I’m better off on my own, why did I ever think that they’d be able to help me, teams?

Seeking service brings me to a difficult place within seconds because it represents something that cuts deep. Asking for help is so painful because it admits to our dependency on each other. And this means dealing with the frustration of other people ie waiting, mistakes happen, bit clumsy sometimes and definitely not perfect. Asking for help means admitting that I need something and I need you to get it. Adios omnipotence. I have tried doing everything myself. Enlisted for basic engineering, plumbing and dry stone walling. Failing that (which I did) started researching land rights in northern Canada and the red neck dress code.

So how do we manage to ask for help without going nuts, and remaining hopeful that other people can actually help us? I’m tempted to say don’t ever phone the council again but actually I don’t think that’s the answer. It’s about swallowing the rather obvious fact that I can’t do it on my own. Gulp.

In the first step of what feels like my walk of shame but what I hope is actually a step towards my own humanity, I would like to apologise to Daniel at the council call centre for what I said I’d do to him if he didn’t find the builder who was 3 days late. What I wish to say is that I need you. Please help me.

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