There was something I recently read that depressed the shit out of me. I found this treasure of doublespeak in the customer service section (go figure) of the Burger World supervisor study guide which I am currently ignoring in my inertia toward the illusion of power. It made me want to ram my head through a wall.
The line is exact, (with the exception of the fact that only Beavis and Butt-head work at Burger World): “The person working the register should always greet the customer in a non mechanical greeting, such as ‘Hi, welcome to Burger World’”.
Do you see how a reasonably sentient creature such as myself might have a problem with this? The statement red-handedly contradicts itself. It advocates individuality, so long as it’s the company’s individuality. It tells you to use your own words and then feeds you an acceptable line. The line encourages acting mechanical; it just expects you to be good at faking enthusiasm. Like a stripper.
I get that a person unfortunate enough to have a job involving customer service is like a housewife with a thousand different husbands, living in terror that any one of them will stumble home drunk and beat the shit out of her and then she’ll be blamed by the neighborhood for being a bitch who doesn’t listen. I hate that thought, as well as the thought that the rules of customer service are written by assholes who don’t have to live with them. But I think there’s a greater problem suggested by that logic-raping symptom statement, and that is that maybe people don’t really want honesty. Maybe we’d rather be comfortable. If that squares with the truth, so much the better. If not, comfort is the trump.
You don’t see many people telling the rampaging idiots in their lives what they really think of them, do you? I don’t do it. I’m too polite, which translates into realspeak as cowardly.
I’ve most noticed my own lapse between ideals and action in friendship and romance, in which “tell me the truth” quickly devolves into “you son of a bitch.” (The Burger World words of wisdom were referenced in one of my most recent mutual explosions.) I’m usually a pretty blunt person when I’m visible (for the idiots, I vanish), and my growing disillusionment with the sacred power of truth hasn’t turned me into a pathological liar. (If anything, I’ll be an in the moment hypocrite, the truth of now contradicting all my prior in the moment convictions. I’m completely fine with this.) But I have learned to tell when a person doesn’t really want the truth one howls for, and so with silence and misdirection I’ll sometimes keep that person safe. I’ve gotten somewhat good at this.
There’s another example in my current life that further illustrates my skepticism of truth. Once again, it involves my wonderful work. While it’s a better job than McDonald’s or my late, lamented Old Country Buffet, Burger World is a world in perpetual crisis, and as all the smoke blown up my ass has led me to believe, only I can save the day. What I’m saying, in so many words, is that I get called in a lot.
In the past I’ve compared my time at Burger World to my best friend’s misadventures within a creepy Christian youth group he went to in order to hook up with a devout teenage girl whom we both liked. As he told it, the congregation got in full recruitment mode whenever he’d arrive, staring at him in unison and praying for his immortal soul in the hope that he’d join their team and reinforce their existences. (Thankfully, he got over the girl and married a well-adjusted brainiac whom we both liked.) Now I feel like I’m in the youth group, and the further up the ladder I’m lured, the further into the trap I go.
It’s been an absolute bitch to beat back my clutching, disastrous source of income into its proper place in my life. My job is a stupid, tentacled beast that doesn’t think twice about scheduling me six days a week and then trying to call me in on my day off. It doesn’t blink when it tries to tack on an additional four hours to my shift for no good reason. It could care less that it’s only one of many things I do, including this and including the occasional day off to relax like a normal person. And working ten hours on Labor Day was also fun.
But how to tell such a stupid creature, when it grasps for the miles beyond its given inches, the selfish truth? You can’t. It’ll just cry until you give in to shut it up. So I lie, just a little bit. Inflate the truth. Make myself seem a hair busier than I actually am. Just like I did yesterday, a day off the creature tried to steal back with emergencies and sweet nothings whispered into my voicemail (I’ve long since learned to silence my phone on days off). I didn’t answer, sending a noncommittal text to my boss saying that I had to get my newspaper work done and that it would take all evening. It only took a few hours, but you can’t give the creature any leeway at all, not if you want your own life. And I do.
Deceit is a tool, just like any other tool. Just like truth. All that matters is how, and why, you use it.
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