Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to Complain Properly

As a child, when I heard my parents or paternal grandparents complain about something, there were no holds barred. You said what you wanted, whether you sounded like a rude prick or not. Obviously, I saw my parents do this more than I witnessed my grandparents, but I know they did the same. I come from a long line of rude complainers.

When I moved out on my own, I practiced this same tactic. If my utility bill was wrong, I called and screamed at the poor soul that answered the phone.  If I felt wronged in any way, I’d kick up a big fuss about it, after all, that’s what I was taught. I remember when I worked at Sears and brought my car in for some work. The night manager didn’t know me and didn’t realize I worked there when he called to tell me that the initial estimate was wrong and the actual work would cost a lot more money. So, I did what any girl of Polish/German descent would do. I marched down to the garage and I cornered that little manager and yelled at him. I may have even poked him once or twice.

I’m happy to say that I won, I got my way. But as I walked back to my own department, something occurred to me. I looked and sounded like a complete asshole doing that to some poor guy. We weren’t alone in that area, so everyone watching must have thought, “What a shrew!”

Fast forward a few decades and I find myself intensely disliking confrontation of any kind. (Why I took that mediation training is beyond me… a topic for another time.) I have had the good fortune of being around my parents and sister when they complain about things. Their method of doing so makes my skin crawl. So I try not to complain. Ever. I’ve eaten many a crap meal for fear of complaining and having someone spit in my food. I’ve had multiple Lemondrop Martinis that were rimmed in salt rather than sugar. I sit there and I eat and drink and never utter a peep. I would die first.

Since I married EN, it’s been his job to do the complaining. Here is the justification I give for giving him the shit work: EN is genuinely nice and he comes across that way. When I play nice while righting a wrong, my bitch face shines right though. The genuinely nice person should speak up. Over the years, he’s finally started taking on this task without waiting too long, so the complaint doesn’t matter anyway. He scored a free printer when he called the manufacturer and complained about something. His persistence got us away from one bad propane company and got us into a fuel-buying co-op. He’s done really well.

So when I was pissed off the other night about the $1 juice boxes at Sugar's skating pary, I said that we should complain to the rink. This is married talk for, “It’s your job, call and say something.” Somehow (I know it was the beer talking) I volunteered to make the call. I conveniently forgot about that and texted EN yesterday to ask how the call went. He said I was supposed to do it. Great.  

I called the rink in the afternoon and I was beautifully behaved, if I may say so myself. I smiled the WHOLE time I was talking because they say you can hear a smile over the phone (whatevs). I also used "nice voice" the whole time. I told her the party was wonderful and everyone had a great time THEN I mentioned the ridiculous charges from their required vendor. Then I said something nice again, this is called “sandwiching” for those of you not in the know.

The lady I talked to seemed stunned by what I told her about the charges. She thanked me for calling and thanked me for not screaming. She said that she would call her vendor and do something to make things right. I didn’t want anything free, maybe a teensy refund on the solid gold juice boxes, but I really thought the management of the skating rink should be aware of their vendors charges in the event they didn’t know. She said she called me back.

24 hours later, I have heard nothing. I totally should have gone postal on her.

Ice Princess 

No comments:

Post a Comment