To all the customers I’ve loved before

A few days ago I stumbled upon a “Customers suck” blog, and a few of its knock-off cousins.  These blogs serve as sanity-sustaining sounding boards for anonymous rants about asshole customers endured by overworked and underpaid people, usually from the retail and other service sectors.

In the interest of pure class-time-wasting entertainment, I continued reading.  I even laughed out loud, while knowingly nodding.  Baristas and sales associates, I’ve been there and done that.

My personal current chiropractic patients and massage clients?  I love them.  You won’t hear any complaints from me.  I haven’t had any recent material to contribute to message boards like that.

However, I have had my share of asshats and douchebags such as those described by the pour souls run ragged for barely above minimum wage.  I understand perfectly the terms “suck” and “WTF”, both used as nouns.

Because I’m more of a follower than I’d ever admit in a personally identifiable way, to keep with the spirit of those blogs, I’ll add my own “(past) customers suck” comments.

1. Donutland customers: (Background: I used to work in a fairground concession stand behind hot machines filled with 425-degree vegetable oil.  That’s the kind of temperature the burns to the bone, if enough anatomical surface area is involved.  I was fast – not the type to let the donuts pile up in the glass cage. When we were slammin’ busy, the machines were fast, pumping out 36 donuts every minute, but I was seasoned, and I was faster.)

To the customers that insisted on FRESH donuts: I understand you don’t want stale donuts.  I even agree with you.  But it’s quite clear that if my hand is in the way when the donut falls down the little chute, you can see that I wince as that hot little sucker burns my hand.  Don’t you think that’s fresh enough??  BTW, I watch you as you walk away – you let them cool off for a while anyway.  So quitcher bitchin!

2. Restaurant customers:
a. When you order a well-done steak, don’t complain when your food doesn’t show up in 10 minutes.  It took our place at least 20 minutes to cook a steak all the way through.
b. Contrary to what you’d like to believe, I don’t make a gold mine as a waitress.  My minimum wage isn’t $5.15 (at the time) like everyone else.  It’s $2.13 per hour, a pathetic number that hasn’t changed since I don’t know when.  That’s because it is understood that we’ll make up the difference in TIPS.  And there are a lot of people out there who don’t understand what tipping is or why they should do so at a full-service restaurant.
c. The money we do make?  Is not “under the table”.  We don’t just skate out the door with our tips in hand every night and thumb our nose at the IRS come tax time.  No, they have a formula.  They tax us on a certain percentage of what we SELL, not what we actually MAKE.  Yes, this means that if, due to your social refusal to believe in and take part in the tipping system, or your claim that you got less than 100% perfect service, or whatever other pathetic excuse you can come up with to justify what is usually just being cheap, you fail to leave a decent tip, not only did we lose money from the standpoint that we could’ve made more money waiting on someone else with the time we devoted to your sorry ass, but we actually LOST money waiting on you.  That’s right, we PAID, out of our pockets, with our other tips, to wait on you.  Do you go to work and do your job and then instead of getting paid, you pay someone else?  Well, that’s what cheapskates do to us.  This is because since we’re taxed based on our SALES, which are tracked, and we didn’t make tips on those sales, we’re taxed on “income” that we didn’t actually make.  We pay money out of our own pocket to cover the taxes based on those phantom tips that you were too cheap to give us.  And mind you, I’m NOT talking about bad service here.  I’m talking about either cheapskate customers, or perhaps a backed up kitchen or a slow bar.  If I’m depending on other staff members for certain parts of your order, then understand that I’m not entirely responsible when you have to wait a few extra minutes. I will smile, be nice as pie, apologize, keep watching for your order to come up, and get it right out to you when it does, while monitoring your table for any of your other needs in the meantime. Don’t take your frustration out on me financially.
d. Contrary to what else you might think, I’m not a high school dropout, a single mom, a drug user, a slut, a robot, or perfect. I am a human being, who has thoughts, feelings, beliefs, a life outside of the restaurant. I am someone with skills and emotions and I can make mistakes too.  I’m not some loser with no further direction in life.  I’m also not your slave, your concubine, your prospective girlfriend, your babysitter, a dog to be whistled at, or someone you can order around, hit on, grab, or snap your fingers at.  Kapiche?
e. Complements, while nice to receive, do NOT make up for poor tips.  They don’t count as income.  Do not smile at me and tell me what a great server I am while handing me a 10% tip.  Complements are great, but they don’t pay my mortgage.  I have bills to pay too, and flattery won’t substitute for currency.
f. Often, take-out orders are rung up by the waitress and–you guessed it–they are included on her sales for the night.  This means that the government is going to assume she made money on those sales and they will tax that “income” accordingly.  So, don’t make her pay out of her own pocket to ring up your order – throw her at least a couple bucks.  On a take-out order, 10% is the minimum (15-20% as a sitdown customer for decent service, and 25% for great service).

3. Former or prospective massage clients:
a. Dear price-shopping unpromising prospective massage client: I am not going to give you a discount off your first massage.  You get a discount when you schedule your next massage on your way out after a massage, for a month or less from that day.  You don’t just get a discount right off the bat.  My prices are my prices.  Why should I give you a lower price?  What have you done to deserve that?  What makes you different than anyone else who would have to pay full price?
b. Dear certain former massage clients for whom the following became a habit: when you cancel on short notice or you do not show up, this puts a serious cramp in both my schedule and my ability to pay my bills and feed my family.  When you reserve a massage time slot, that slot can’t be given to anyone else.  When that time rolls around and you don’t show up, that time slot expires, and the income I was counting on is gone.  I can’t sell that time to anyone else and make up the lost income.  When you cancel with 30 minutes to spare (or even several hours), this is also a huge letdown.  I am not a high-volume massage franchise, so I don’t field tons of calls every minute and I cannot simply fill that slot on such short notice.  This is why a 24-hour cancellation policy is STANDARD among practically every independent massage therapist.  Anything less, and we can’t fill the spot.
b (continued).  Also, think of how you would feel if you were a prospective client who seriously pulled a muscle.  You’re in pain and you know a massage will go a long way toward fixing or at least alleviating the problem.  You call your favorite therapist; he or she apologetically states that they have nothing available for that day.  You’re bummed.  You really could’ve used the work.  What if you found out that one of the people on her schedule that day just simply didn’t show up, and wasted the time slot that could’ve been yours?  You’d be pissed.  The therapist, now missing income, would also feel totally bad for you, now knowing that had she known the dufus was going to go AWOL on her, she could’ve fit you in.  But she had no way of knowing because the asshat didn’t bother to make a simple phone call.  Yes, flakes, when you decide to flake out and skip your appointment, and you forego the phone call because you want to “avoid confrontation” (or whatever other pathetic reason), you seriously impact multiple people.  And no, the money isn’t always as easy to make up as you think.  Most therapists are low-volume, and only have 3-5 available slots on any given day – and before you start calculating hours, this doesn’t mean they work part-time.  They do plenty of work outside actual massage time.  They’re doing laundry, returning phone calls, updating their website or intake forms, doing promotions, replying to emails, making newsletters for their clients, doing more laundry, washing hot stones or other tools, cleaning their studios, restocking water, setting up or cleaning up, and a lot more.
c. Dear chatty clients – I have loved you all.  But I have scheduled my day with your appointment in mind.  This means that I have allotted a certain amount of time for you, which I enjoy every minute of, but when I schedule you from 1 to 2, this does not mean you can hang out and gab until 3 or 3.30.  An hour is an hour.  I have a life, too – other things to do, and I need to get on with it.  My schedule is not wide open.  Just because I work out of my house doesn’t mean you don’t have to leave.
d. Certain former massage therapy clients, after watching you come in twice a year for the past three years only when the pain has now permeated and interfered with every aspect of your life and you can’t take it anymore, we’ve extolled the benefits of receiving regular massage therapy and how taking a bit more aggressive (read: frequent) treatment plan might help you stay on top of the pain better.  And still, you continue to wait until you can no longer move, then you schedule an hour and then want us to “fix it” all in one session.  I got news: won’t happen.  You live in your body 24 hours a day, inflicting the micro (or macro) trauma on it that you do.  We only get to see you a couple hours a year.  Top secret: we’re not the ones with the house advantage in this situation.
d (continued).  Also, same said clients, it’s forgivable to call us after 6 months of AWOL status to ask for a same-day appointment (well, once or twice).  Getting pissy with us because we don’t have any more openings left or we can’t fit you in in 1-2 hours from now is totally unproductive and irrational.  Don’t give us that northern hairball-caught-in-your-throat scoff-sound, either.  You know the one.  It’s usually accompanied by a rolling of the eyes and the refusal to admit that it’s not us who are in the wrong here.  If it matters that much to you to get an appointment, call a few days in advance.  And do not wait until the pain becomes unbearable, because then you get to live with it if we can’t fit you in right away.  Our time is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
e. (Background: I used to provide massage therapy at a place that had a small service menu of basic modalities.  Some of the prices were different than others.)  No, member of this place, you cannot schedule a cheaper relaxation-type massage and then once we’d gotten settled into the room safely away from the cashier at the front desk, pull me aside and tell me that what you really want is some deeper or more advanced work that naturally has a deeper and more advanced price tag.  Only you were too cheap to spring the extra $10-20.  Come on.  The prices are dirt cheap to begin with – an extra $10-20 when you have a Lexus or a Beemer parked out front is SO not going to break the bank.  Why do *I* care, you ask?  Because I get paid extra to do advanced work, because I have skills other therapists don’t (which I spent substantial time and effort to obtain), and thus, I can provide advanced services that other people can’t.  Oh, and acquiring that advanced knowledge wasn’t free to me, either.  The tuition for those extra classes adds up fast.  I had to give up normal workdays to attend them, which means I lose the potential income for that day (because unlike many, we don’t get any benefits or vacation pay at the vast majority of massage jobs), but on top of that I also had to SPEND money from my savings account to pay for the class.  So yes, when you get advanced work, it’s going to cost you extra.  Bonus: when I am actually in the room around the corner, unseen but able to hear every part of the exchange with the receptionist where you’re hemming and hawing, really wanting Deep Tissue but not wanting to pay the extra price and then signing up for the cheaper Swedish instead.  I heard everything.  You’re not going to sucker me!
f. And no, member of same said establishment, I cannot go an extra 5-10 minutes on you to get “just one more area” or to get “my neck just a few more minutes”.  Another therapist needs the room after me.  Or, I have another client right after you.  It doesn’t matter, actually – you paid for an hour massage, you get an hour massage.  I do not go over on time–especially if you were late to begin with!  You want more time?  No problem.  Schedule a longer massage.  And then, show up on time.  Problem solved.

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