Customer Service

Working Over the Holidays Horror Stories

Some stores like Wal-Mart are not content to wait until Black Friday to lure shoppers in with deals and stay open on Thanksgiving day itself. Others, though, are taking a stand.

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Real Life Firing Histories

By rights, I should have been fired for how I dealt with some of these customers, but the owners seemed to feel that having surly diners get a periodic dressing-down from an even surlier waiter who could turn on the Brooklyn when he was pissed was a good thing.

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Honey, Sweetie, Chief, Boss: How We Talk to Strangers

You might call a man you don’t know “chief,” but when that man is a judge and you are the defendant, you should probably go with “Your Honor.”

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Handy Sued

Good, I hate them.

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Airbnb: Bad For New York, Great For Me

I guess like most things in this new disrupted world of ours, I think Airbnb is bad for New York, but when family is in town and needs a place to stay, that’s exactly where I send them. On her last visit, my mom stayed in a place one block from us for $60/night.

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A Non-Grouchy Oscar Update!

LADY ON THE PHONE: Is this Ester?

ME: Yes? Subtext: Unless you have anything stressful to tell me.

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My Day Interviewing For The Service Economy Startup From Hell

I interviewed at Handybook in July 2013. My temp job had just ended and I was desperate for a steady job, and was relieved and excited when I got an email from Handy scheduling me for a phone interview.

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Checking the Transactions

Last night, I went through my credit card transactions (as I like to do on weekly basis), and noticed that on Oct. 17, I was charged $8 by Delta in Atlanta, Georgia. That was this last Friday, and I was here, in New York, eating a fried chicken sandwich in Brooklyn at the time; the charge for the sandwich appeared next to it.

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This Is Terrible, But: The Pain of Tipping People Richer Than Me

Should I really feel differently about tipping people who have more money than I do? Does that make me a terrible person?

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So You Want to Quit Your Job and Open a Bar

This Slate article offers wisdom for the many men who supposedly dream of quitting their mundane, workaday jobs and starting their own bars:

What would he tell a friend who was considering getting into the business? “I would tell them, ‘I hope you like being in the basement a lot, because more often than not, that’s where I find myself,’ ” Struble says. “I’m the guy schlepping kegs and unclogging toilets.”

Oh? “So many people I know have a glorified idea of Oh, you’re standing behind the bar and there are so many girls. That’s the fantasy. It’s not the reality,” he says. “If I knew the occupation I would have now during college, I would have gone to refrigeration school or plumbing. I would not have gotten a master’s in education.”

Plenty of us sometimes wish we’d picked another major, but what else do bar owners mess up? “Make sure you are able to get a long-term lease,” Struble says. “You can be the most successful place in the world, but if your landlord decides in three years that he’s going to double your rent, are you going to be able to cover it? It’s not sexy, but I’ve seen people flame out.” Little about owning a bar, it seems, is very sexy. This should be obvious, since you’re running a highly regulated gathering place for drunk people.

Um, seriously. I have never in my entire life met someone with this fantasy. Starting an artisanal belt-making operation using high-quality, locally sourced leather, sure. Starting a hip coffee shop that’s also part laundromat and maybe part used book store, absolutely. But a bar? That never seemed romantic, just tedious and terrifying in equal measure. Have I just been hanging out with the wrong crowds / not enough men? What’s your small business dream?

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Link Roundup: Boss Regrets Niceness; LinkedIn Rankings; Good Giving

+ Uh-oh. I hope Mike doesn’t read this one. “Why I Regret Being a Nice Boss,” by a lady who was not a monster to her employees, and whose employees took advantage of her until she adapted accordingly.

Not all businesses require that level of micromanagement. But establishing which rules are non-negotiable, and making sure that everyone understands them with crystalline clarity, is a matter of fairness. It’s the thing I wish I could go back and do over—not because it would have saved my business, but because everyone, myself included, would have been so much happier. I allowed my coffee shop to become characterized by permissiveness. Some took advantage of this permissiveness by making up excuses for being late, or by trying to do as little work as possible. Those who didn’t take advantage became resentful of the other employees, and of me. It brought out the worst in everyone.

+ Let’s all go back in time and choose our colleges based on LinkedIn’s ideas of which ones will get us desirable jobs!

+ It’s “Pink”-tober, which means it’s time to feel guilty about forgetting to donate to breast cancer charities. If you want to give, though, give wisely. Here are some alternatives to Komen where your money might actually do some good.

+ Two more favorite rich people, because I can’t believe I forgot: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Lord Peter Wimsey. Posh dudes who fall for brainy, less well-off women are the best.

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