A tale of woe and customer service

Happy nearly Friday Loungers! Here’s a funny story for you. I’m actually, truly, so snowed with work I’ve gone and delved into the Face First archives for a delightful story of work hell for you this week.
Upon reflection, I’m SO VERY grateful to be snuggled up at my desk under a pile of paper in my ugg boots. Getting older can be a beautiful thing.

A bit what I look like right now, except not quite so much like a sheep.

I am doing great big leapy happy jumps of YAY to be hit up with an unrealistic deadline next week, because it means I am WORKING and working HARD. There’s nothing I love better. (OK – that’s kind of rubbish …  I can’t drink wine at the same time, so that kind of sux, and there are other things, like holidays and cocktails and swimming and reading in the sun and being on boats …) Anyway. Digressing. Working is pretty great.

The little trickle of opportunity is starting to flow again, and I’m feeling like hugging the world, I’m so grateful. Freelance work is such a capricious beast, it’s a bit like a Christmas present whenever a work offer pops up in your inbox.

This means I will be leaving you sad and lonely next week while I stick my bum in the air (and wave it around like I just don’t care … sorry. Sometimes my brain to keyboard filter needs a really big SMACK.) So don’t forget me.

Meanwhile, this lull has given me pause to reflect on the less savoury jobs I’ve had in my life. Strangely enough, most of them have been centred around customer service. From this we’ll conclude that I generally suck at people. Don’t argue with me. I do.

Job 1. Charcoal chicken shop. Time of employment: 3.25 hours

Do you have any idea how HOT it is in a chicken shop? Do you have any idea how heavy a rack of chickens is when they’re all raw, before they load them up onto the rack for roasting? Neither did I. My poor little flimsy 15-year old arms couldn’t quite cope, and I dropped the whole pole of pale wrinkly little squidgy smelly chickens into the ash and coals, covering them in black dust and turning myself into some kind of camouflaged warpainted black-faced child, complete with sweat streaks and bright white eyes of terror. The evil demented shop owner tried to get out of paying me my $17 for the days’ work, given I had cost him a rack of chickens. My dad went and yelled at him though. He showed him. Bastard.


Don’t they look cute and cosy all snuggled up together over the fire?

Job 2. Checkout chick. Time of employment: 1 year – 4 hrs per week = $20

Wow. I said WOW. Can you even believe the cash I was raking in? I trotted up to the local IGA two afternoons after school each week, to earn the princely sum of $20. There was a girl who worked there full-time, and we used to glare at each other in mutual disrespect, because I refused to take her lectures on the importance of the job seriously. Eventually I got into trouble because I couldn’t say no to selling whipped cream bulbs to all the local school boys who came in. How could I? They were cute! I pretended I had NO idea they weren’t using them to help their dear mothers bake cakes.

Useful for dispensing cream and …. ??


 Job 3. Pizza Hut call centre: Time of employment – 18 months

This was possibly the worst of the lot. I’ve never been abused or sworn at so much in my life as I have over pizza. And, as I’m pretty good and bad with confrontation at the same time, I never managed to deal with it properly. We were supposed to put them straight through to the managers, but because that’s exactly what these losers wanted; ‘My pizza’s late. Put me through to the manager’, that’s exactly what I refused to do. Oops. I was very cold and polite and tried to sort it out for them, but HATED the disrespect from people over pizza. I can recall on more than one occasion saying ‘Dude – it’s a PIZZA. Stop swearing at me.’ I’d be stubborn and pigheaded with them on the phone, but when I hung up I was usually shaking. When I eventually got really jaded by the job I’d just wait long enough until they swore, and then I’d hang up on them. I was allowed to do that. When someone asked if I was interested in applying for any Supervisor roles I said HELL NO – they ONLY get to talk to all the sweary angry people, all day. Like I said, me and people. Not a great combination.

This actually exists in the UK. Want to watch me vomit and die of heart failure at the same time??

Job 4. Black Stump – waitressing: Time of employment – 18 months? 

We had fun here – ‘At the Slack Dump, we’re Famous for our mistakes.’ I was a waitress,  my brother was a waiter, and my then boyfriend worked behind the bar. There was a good crowd of people there for a while and we did plenty of time at the pub after closing time. We were united by our horror at the appalling quality of the food we served at unnecessarily high prices. It was a good place for old people who wanted a ‘home-cooked’ style meal with their (frozen and boiled) corn on the cob, jacket potato, steak (generally overcooked and left to dry out on the bain marie) and cookie-cutter peas and carrots, but otherwise, we couldn’t really understand why people would come. But come they did, and the tips were GREAT. I was a pretty good waitress, and I banked all my pay and just lived off the tips. I went to a 21st one night at the last minute in my ‘Famous’ shirt – a black polo with big ugly orange lettering splashed across the chest (with additional splatters of sour cream). It was an awesome party, but you’ll be surprised to hear I did not pick up that night.

My next job was in publishing while I was still studying at uni, and I thought it was AWESOME to be going off to a proper desk while all my friends were trying not to get bailed up at service stations each night. I had officially arrived in GROWN-UP LAND.

What was your worst job ever? Does customer service really suck, or am I just a princess?

Come and take a seat in The Lounge. Add your link below. Tell us about your work tales of woe.


56 thoughts on “A tale of woe and customer service

  1. Well played Kim – Call Centres suuuuuuuuuuck. I remember doing everything I could to get them to swear at me as well. That meant you could say my favourite line “Sir, if you continue to speak in that way I will have to terminate the call” which always ended up with more swearing and then click… beeeeeeeeeeep
    kevin recently posted…My advice to new Dads: Sing.My Profile

  2. Very hilarious Kim. I’ve got to get my act together. Only just discovered The Lounge!
    Worst job? Maybe that deli in the supermarket, where I fainted because I got my periods, and it was so hot and stuffy. Or that little cafe I worked at, where I walked out with the boss yelling after me, because I objected to being paid $10 an hour as a 21 year old skilled barista.
    Congrats on new freelance work. I’m waiting for an opportunity to pop in to my inbox too…first time in a year without work…

    • Thanks Zanni – I know how that feels. It has been my first time in 4 without work … Not a nice feeling. Hope it turns for you quickly. The deli??? Ugh. Do you struggle to look at lunchmeats still? ;) x

  3. It can suck but I think it depends on the industry. I did fashion all through uni and it was ok. Food is a job I tried but couldn’t do. Hopeless. Is the Black Stump still around? They were so popular!
    Robomum recently posted…Office ColleaguesMy Profile

  4. I totally forgot! Had planned to, next time!
    I was a market researcher, at about 16. A phone researcher. Worst job ever. I always try to be nice to them, because it’s so depressing…

  5. TEE HEE – very funny – I’ve had a few shocker jobs but I won’t spoil my blog – I plan to write one about it and link – as I’m desperate to enter the “Lounge” !
    Love the sheep photo – I can see the resemblance despite your protests.
    My sis was both a check out chick and a pizza girl and used to tell us some hilarious yarns about pizza, but she got paid SHITE! Em
    Emily @ Have a laugh on me recently posted…Now you see it – now you don’t – Wordless Wednesday!My Profile

    • Awww Em, you flatter me so. Pizza GGGgGGgRrrrrr. Have to say I haven’t ordered from THAT place since i stopped working there. :)

  6. Anything related to having to deal with customers is the WORST! Doesn’t matter if you are the most patient person in the world, I think anyone who has had to do any kind of retail or customer service role knows there is a shelf life on those jobs, otherwise they’d be hauling you off to the funny farm, the very place where most of those customers should be!
    Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions recently posted…“Are You Sure I Can’t Twist Your Arm?” and other seemingly innocuous things to say when selling door-to-doorMy Profile

    • I reckon. Anyone trapped in retail or customer service as a career, for life, should be held and patted like a sad wounded animal. Then plied with alcohol.

  7. Checkout chick was fun for me – I was right next to the fruit and vege isle (and perved on the fruit n vege guys alot! haha)

    I was a Parking Attendant in the UK for 3 months.. OMG the rules and regs on parking is unbelievable and the amount of people parking on double yellow lines, disable bays etc illegally was ridiculous!!! It was a love hate relationship.. freezing cold in the snow and getting hurled abuse from people (usually the real estate guys who parked illegally all the time)…
    Yvette @ Little Bento Blog recently posted…2000 Facebook Likers Giveaway!!My Profile

    • Parking attendant in the SNOW! You’re a brave woman Yvette. The cold is my nemesis. I think I’d have curled up in a ball and cried.

  8. I have worked in customer service for almost 13 years in retail since I was 16. I have just gone on maternity leave and I am soooo happy I dont have to deal with customers anymore. In fact my most popular post on my blog is about customer service and how some people desperately need to learn some respect. Its went viral by itself so obviously other people feel the same way. Oh and I can relate to the crap money, I remember one fortnight when I was 18 I earnt $67 for a fortnight.
    Toni recently posted…Maternity photo shootMy Profile

    • $67! Wow – that must have been about a fortnight’s worth of Bacardi breezers (or sub zeros if you’re closer to my age ;)

  9. The Pizza Hut call center sounds like the worst ! Don’t know how you stuck it out so long. I am a little work shy and don’t really last very long in jobs….have even been known to sleep on the clock (see my post) lol

  10. YES Customer Service SUCKS. HATE it with a passion. I worked in an NRMA Call Centre for 3 years in the 90′s and it sucked the life out of me. I would love to work in a library again, but only if I could just deal with the books not the people. I am so not a people person, it’s ridiculous. I’m not sure I’m even human.

    Had to laugh at your Black Stump experience. Can you believe that was one of the places Mick took me to on one of our first dates 20 years ago? I should have known I was headed for the classy bogan life I’ve living now, right there. Classy.
    Ness recently posted…Bogan For HireMy Profile

    • Black Stump is HELL classy. They had ‘Steak Diane’ on the menu, and some people even pronounced it the French way. Not many. Like, only 2 in the time I worked there. Most pronounced it like the lady that works down the road in the deli. That Mick was clearly a keeper.

  11. Your CV rocks!

    I can’t decide… Possibly netball umpiring. You cop A LOT of abuse on the sidelines. But in a weird way, I enjoyed it. Cop enough abuse and you can send people off the court. They refuse to leave, their team forfeits. SO MUCH POWER! Mwahahaha.

    Hoping to put this in a proper post and link up properly in a proper fashion all proper-like. Will see how I go. Loving The Lounge – sorry I haven’t played properly yet! x
    Emily recently posted…I can trip over nothingMy Profile

  12. Oh God that pizza…I don’t know where to look.
    Truly customer service lets you see the worst in people. People are scum. SCUM I TELL YOU! OK maybe not actually scum but they do get narky about crazed stuff. I don’t have to deal with the great unwashed in my current job but I used to quite like dealing with mental angry customers, I would nod reassuringly and tell them I agreed with everything they said, and it used to confuse them so much they mostly shut up.
    Slapdash Mama recently posted…Popping tags over at The Shake.My Profile

    • Andddd… it turns out your approach was good life experience. Using that tactic of yours on mental angry customers also works surprisingly well on irrational tiny people – kids get SO confused when you agree with them and stop saying NO, don’t you find?

  13. Customer service is bloody, bloody tough! And I know what you mean about getting the shakes after a shitty phone call.
    And yes dude, it is just a bloody pizza!
    Good on your dad for getting back at that evil chicken shop owner!
    When you’re not part of union, you can always rely on your parents :)
    Grace recently posted…Wait a minute, Mr PostmanMy Profile

  14. I couldn’t work in customer service. No way, no how. At least not anymore. I worked in a supermarket when I was at Uni but I couldn’t do it again.
    Tegan recently posted…Yes BossMy Profile

  15. I’d imagine that working in a call centre would trump all of these for jobs that totally suck. Imagine being told to “fuck off” constantly all day every day. It would have to give you a complex after a while.

  16. Shoe repair shop. Shoe shop. Another shoe shop. Paper delivery route. Telesales (18 months!!) bit of waitressing, and bakery counter service. Avon rep….. I think that’s it :)

    Ps…I’m confused about the squirty cream?!

    • That’s because you’re a good girl and not a 16-year old boy up to no good! The whipped cream dispenser took bulbs that contained nitrous oxide, and they’d inhale them (sans cream, obviously, or they’d get fat as well as high!)
      Telesales. Blegh. 18 months is GOOD stamina woman!

      • Ha! I have done lots of customer service jobs, including flipping burgers in a roadside diner serving truckies at 5am in the freezing cold of the Central West of NSW; checkout chick at Woolies (where I had to deal with fellow uni students coming through my checkout with stolen goods down their pants); Katies; Just Jeans; Soul Pattinson chemist; selling merchandise on Mount Panorama to people who are probably in jail now… My waitressing experience was limited to one cafe/restaurant, where I slipped in a puddle and, I suspect, cracked a rib that still gives me trouble today. The boss made me keep working because we were flat out – just sums up the working conditions of the lowly customer service person really!! Despite all that, I think your chicken shop experience takes the cake. So hot, so gross.

      • :) I’m glad you came back. I was turning blue! I dunno – I think your burger truckie thing might see my chickens and raise me. That’s pretty hellish.

  17. I had a few casual jobs growing up – worst by far was bakery slave – hot, sticky and very little fun but better was working at some convenience stores for a franchise when I was a college student. The annual Christmas parties were worth putting up with all the crap throughout the year for! :)

    • And I bet you got free chocolate … Or is that just how they sold the job?? Tell me you didn’t have 4am bakery starts? I may have to actually kneel down and salute you if that was the case.

  18. I worked as a check out chick for 5 1/2 years! My old boss is still at this supermarket but he is now a grandpa which makes me giggle. My other job was as a corporate travel agent. I was asked on numerous occasions whether I could call the airport to get them to “hold the plane” as their boss was stuck in traffic and if they missed the plane it was my fault. I even had the “don’t you know who I am” act when they arrived at check in with three minutes to departure. They thought that if they were in business class they were exempt. Short answer…no. But this was my fault too. I lasted 7 1/2 years in total with two different agencies.

    • DON”T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I love that line. I’m looking forward to the day when I can use it on someone, somewhere. Until then I’ll keep trying it out on my kids. xx

  19. Personal Assistant to a PR firm owner. I drove her still warm breast milk from the office to her 4 week old baby at daycare. Multiple times a day. As an 18 year old, that was just rank and vomit inducing.

    • It still sounds pretty rank. Other peoples’ breast milk …. Warm … It’s not something I want to hang out with. Even though I’ve done the cow thing twice myself.

  20. Working in Big W snack food section (when they had them) on a Saturday morning. Cooking up hot chips/burgers for people at 8.30am in the morning, and then having to clean it all up by midday. The smell of it stuck to your clothes, hair and skin. And I caught 2 buses for that and $20 dollars pay?

  21. The abuse you cop as a netball umpire is pretty horrible. But in a perverse way, I even enjoyed that. Because the second someone stepped over the line, I could send them off the court. Refuse? Their team forfeited. Oh, the power. Mwahahahaha.

    • A very good reason why I never umpired. For $7 per hour?? To be abused by parents? You’re hardcore. $7 plus the power of whistle-wielding though … maybe i should have reconsidered.

  22. I’ve had a lot of, shall we say, unique jobs over the years ranging from debt collection (which I actually liked) to working in an adult store (funny) to being a motorsport racing official & running a Motorsport facility (surprisingly not as fun as you’d think).

    The worst though? The job I quit less than 20mins after I started?

    Checkout chick.

    I served precisely one customer and thought “balls to this”, quitting on the spot.

    • Nice. I wish I’d had the balls to quit when quitting was called for. Just call me chicken. Geddit. Sorry – dad joke.
      Adult store… man I bet you could tell some stories!! Oh to be a fly on the wall.

  23. Hahaha, love it!
    Oh btw, I’m pretty sure there’s a ‘Brain to Keyboard Filter’ plugin that you can get – but installing it would be akin to ‘spoiling a good story with the truth’ and we don want that now!

    • Truth? I never lie – my lack of brain filtering plugins make it an impossibility. Besides, I don’t need any plugins beyond those I have and am already struggling to operate, thank you very much!!
      I could sometimes do with a verbal censor though. Reckon you could look into that for me?

  24. Customer service sucks – I think – anyway !!!! It is funny because I can’t stand dealing with customers but I have a part time massage and reflexology business that I run from home in the evenings – maybe the people who come there are different because most times they fall asleep and are really happy to just have an hour of quiet time with nobody calling them or wanting them to do anything !!!
    My worst job would have to be working in the deli of a local supermarket – people always wanted ‘freshly’ sliced ham etc – did they think we left it out over night and they got last weeks ham ????
    Have the best day !
    #FYBF visitor

    • Yep I think anyone giving you crap when you’re about to massage them would have to be a few screws short of a toolset! Although … is there some special reflexology point you can use to put them to sleep if they’re a little too chatty and troublesome?? I’m not advocating of course…

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