Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Since I decided to temporarily reduce my consumption of Facebook, my life has been better. Naturally, the only way to communicate this is to post about it on Facebook.
You know how Ke$ha wakes up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy? When I wake up in the morning, I feel like checking my Facebook.
The real problem with Facebook is that it's impossible to rationalize. It's not even like I'm doing anything productive. I'm just finding out useless things about people I hate.
Oh, I still love it. If someone had offered me a choice yesterday between having all my wildest dreams come true and checking Facebook, I'd be commenting on a thoughtful New York Times Op-Ed faster than you can say "mobile upload."
Facebook is its own coming-of-age story. Before last year, it had never occurred to me that the pictures I had posted of me throwing my arm around a person next to me and mouthing the words "Whooo-HOOOO!" with a red plastic cup in my hand were not totally bitchin'. That was a tough birthday.
Facebook is also a great way to re-connect with old friends for the sole purpose of displaying how awesome you look. Or, barring that, that you know how to upload old Polaroids of yourself as an 8-year-old.
Of course, there's the total lack of accountability. I'm not just talking about "Facebook hackers." That's when you drunk post and pretend it wasn't you.
Basically, Facebook is that term paper you put off for so long that all you have time to do is just write what you think as it comes to you. (Not to brag, but I've written papers where I literally had to keep my hands moving on the keyboard typing any and all words I could think of to finish on time). No one really knows what they're posting or why, except that, like bacon at a restaurant, it doesn't really count.
The exception, of course, are the top secret parties where the only people who know about it are the 10 people you want to show up and the 3000 people you don't. Proving the age-old theory that while we love to socialize with our friends, the real point of having a party is to not invite people.
Generally, though, I think Facebook is good for relationships. I haven't tested this theory, but I truly believe that if you update your status to "Engaged" before the guy is ready, nine times out of ten he'll go along with it.
Maybe I'm not lost on the irony of expressing all this by writing a blog and posting it to your Newsfeed. Maybe I'm still an obsessive lurker who knows all but "likes" nothing. But at the end of the day, I feel much more productive ranting about Facebook then refreshing it.
Oh, and don't even judge me. I know where you found this.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Like all guilty white liberals, I am nicer to people in the service industry than I am to my own family.
Why? Because it's a proven fact that if you act really, really apologetic when you ask for more barbecue sauce, you will get into heaven.
Ask yourself honestly if any of these sound familiar:
Waitress: I think we just serve Pepsi.
You: Would it be at all possible for you to check to see if you have Coke? Thank you so much. (Stage whisper to friend) She should be in college!
Waitress: Here's your food!
You: Thank you. I can't even believe I'm eating out. You are so good. You did such a good job. You are a rare gem.
Why do you do this? So you and your friend feel better about the fact that there's an 11% unemployment rate and you're eating organic sushi. It's an extension of that game people play in college where they try to make their penthouse apartment seem as much like The Projects as possible.
But then you have to ask yourself: When are you at your worst? Under what circumstances do you regress to your most primitive state a la Lord of the Flies?
For me, that circumstance was my half-umbrella.
You see, I was supposed to be writing, so I decided to become obsessed with this half-umbrella. The half-umbrella was going to provide shade for me, thus changing my life as implied by the picture on Amazon.com of people smiling under a half-umbrella.
I was so excited when the half-umbrella came in the mail. Actually, I was really excited about the word "half-umbrella," which I enjoyed saying to family and friends alike.
But there was a problem. The half-umbrella came without an umbrella base, which is needed to hold the half-umbrella up.
This made me very angry, so I called customer service. It was there I discovered that, due to a combination of my own cheapness and several other people buying into the fantasy of the half-umbrella, there was no way to obtain the missing part. The woman calmly explained this to me, didn't sugar coat it, and said there was nothing she could do. She wasn't going to jump through hoops to get me my base. She was going to leave me half-umbrella-less.
"Fine. Thanks for your help." I said sarcastically, "And thanks for sounding so sorry about it." And slammed down the phone. (Actually, I just hit the "end" button. But, like, really emphatically.)
Later that day, I tried to come to terms with my primal rage. How could I, the world's nicest condiment-asker, have gotten so annoyed at this woman?
I then realized that despite my obssession with the half-umbrella, what really bothered me was that the woman had not conveyed to me that a problem totally beyond her control was not the worst thing that had ever happened to her.
It was wrong. It was primitive. But somewhere inside all of us is a very angry child who wants their half-umbrella. (Sometimes you have to dig deep, but it's always there. And it's always a half-umbrella).
Now, in light of the actions of Jet Blue Employee Steven Slater, I also understand that this is the kind of thing that happens when you aren't trying to impress your friends. The most thankless jobs.
The most thankless jobs are the ones where every single person you're talking to is anonymous, i.e the phone. They don't have to look at you. They don't have their friends nearby. They're not trying to feel better about their $14 salad. They're at their worst and they have no accountability for their behavior.
This also includes airports because 99% of all people in an airport feel inconvenienced and anonymous. Add that to the claustrophobia of a plane and you literally reach the rock bottom standards of human behavior.
When I was promoted to Shift Manager, my Starbucks manual taught me how to deal with difficult people. But "deal with" actually meant how to make the person feel like they were right at all times -- preferably in a way that didn't interrupt the customer flow. Customer service was a giant apology. The last thing anyone is trained to do is defend themselves, or their own dignity.
Sometimes things get out of hand, and a customer throws hot coffee on the counter because they're double parked and it's somehow your fault. Then the manager steps in and pretends it's the worst thing that ever happened to her. Problem solved. But that doesn't undo what the barista had to go through before the situation was "handled."
When a woman stood up before the airplane had even taxied into the terminal, tried to get her bag, and then struck Steven Slater in the face, Slater was probably supposed to defer to the training he received that -- while protecting the company from any hint of a lawsuit -- basically makes him feel like crap.
I'm not condoning his response, per se. But maybe customer service should extend beyond learning how to make assholes feel good about themselves.
If you are going to dramatically lower the emergency slide, grab a beer, and ride off into the sunset -- hopefully with covered containers -- you definitely have my respect. But for those people working in customer service who don't have access to such an awesome, awesome exit, it'd be nice for once to not have to earn it.
Unless, of course, you fucked up my half-umbrella.