elfgrove: (best behavior)
[personal profile] elfgrove
Hey guys. We're going to have a My 2 Cents post here.
Consider yourselves fairly warned warned for some ranting.


I started following [livejournal.com profile] customerssuck and it's sister comm [livejournal.com profile] bad_service a couple of months back. I figured it would be good for me in the sense of reminding myself what the folk in the service industry have to deal with, and what customers have to deal with when service industry folk hit the last straw. It's been mostly such extreme stuff as to be more chagrin-inducing than informative.

I don't work in the service industry. I've had brief bouts with it working as a Logan's Roadhouse hostess a couple of summers and winter breaks during college, and my high school years had me in United Way Youth Leaders where some of our volunteer events resulted in us being treated like we were hired service industry. (I'm not here because I'm being paid to be, we're not charging, don't yell at me because we're out of stuff or because I'm not painting your house fast enough for your liking. P.S. I was supposed to be here to build a wheel chair ramp, I don't even know why I'm painting your entire house inside and out.)
So I know I don't entirely get what it's like to work service industry full-time. I know it isn't easy. I know you guys get a lot of asshats. I'm sympathetic to you.

On the other hand, if you are working in the service industry, I expect you to be professional about it.
I expect my co-workers to not go into rages where they cuss people out, steal, or throw things. I expect the same from service industry employees. I expect anyone with a job to behave with some measure of decorum while involved in said job.
No matter how frustrated I get, I don't get to cuss out my co-workers, spit in their coffee, or lob a stapler at their head, so you don't get a free pass to do so either.

I've been noticing a disturbing trend in [livejournal.com profile] customerssuck of service industry folk feeling justified in screwing with a customer's food or otherwise mistreating the customer for being rude. Or even perceived as rude. I've seen half the comm jump in arguing for intentionally screwing with food, spitting on it, using rotten ingredients, etc just because a customer was uncommunicative and thought there were standard toppings for a particular sub sandwich. (The post appears have to been deleted since.)
The customer should not take out their bad day on the service worker. They absolutely should not. However, the customer being an ass doesn't justify you being an ass right back, much less escalating the situation.

That brings me to two people labeled as "heroes" in the news in the past week. Jenny WhiteBoardQuittingHoax and Steven Slater. I get it. They did what we all kind of wish we could do when we lose our tempers. They externalized that inner internet troll rage. Hell, at first glance, I found it funny.

Then people started calling them "heroes". It spread. Everyone lauded them. Even after Jenny turned out to be a hoax. People wanted to have the guts to quit the way she did. People have started raising money to pay for Steven's legal defense.

This is where I raise the WTF flags.


Let's pretend for a second that the Jenny Whiteboard story had been real.
What was so admirable about what she did? A passive-aggressive personal attack that she plastered over the entire office and then spread to the internet where it almost instantly went viral? She couldn't --oh, I don't know-- sit down and talk to her boss about her concerns? She couldn't contact PR about potential sexual harassment? She couldn't even be bothered to come in and look in anyone's face (including her employer's) as she said she quit?

Is this what we find admirable?
Backstabbing internet troll-esque behavior being brought into the office? Into a professional setting? Isn't this sort of crap what we normally find as a bad quality in people?

Just because it spoke to that inner rage everyone has at their work some days, what "Jenny" did was not admirable. It was childish and petty. "Jenny" would rightly deserve to be sued for defamation of character and I can't speak for you, but were I in a position to hire someone, it would not be a girl who rather than talk to her boss, coworkers, or HR department about a problem in the office decided to air her personal grievances across the internet.


Now as for Steven Slater, and the very real "I quit" that echoed across the internet.

The passenger shouldn't have been out of their seat early. They should not have back-talked the flight attendant. They should have apologized when the bag hit Steven in the head. The passenger's behavior was not right by any means of the imagination. Although if I said I'd never seen anyone get up and retrieve a bag near landing time even though they weren't supposed to, I would be lying. It happens all the time with little to no repercussions.

Technically though, disobeying the flight attendant like that breaks FAA regulations, and the passenger can be turned over to authorities as soon as the plane reaches the gate. The FAA can level some pretty severe penalty fees on you for that sort of thing. The flight attendant could have had the passenger arrested for physical assault.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "[Steven] demanded an apology from the passenger, but the passenger refused to give one. The two argued back and forth before the passenger directed an expletive at Mr. Slater, [an airport] official said. Mr. Slater then got on the plane's PA system and directed the same obscenity at all the passengers, and added that he especially meant it for the man who refused to apologize, the official said."

Steven didn't do any of the things legally available to him for retaliatiion. Like an outraged child, he stomped up to the intercom, cursed at the passenger for everyone to hear, and as soon as the plane landed, stole two beers, deployed the plane's emergency slide, and slid out of the plane, heading straight home.
He was arrested shortly thereafter and charged with 2nd and 4th degree criminal mischief, 1st and 2nd degree reckless endangerment and criminal trespass in the 3rd degree.

From what I've read, Steven's little exodous in particular was an extremely bad move. Once deployed, the emergency slide costs more than $25,000 to replace. Plus, according to one source, "When they hit that emergency chute, it drops down quickly within seconds. If someone was on the ground and it came down without warning, someone could be injured or killed."
Let me reiterate that. He could have killed someone. Because he had a temper tantrum, because some random person was rude to him.

Very "heroic".
"P.S. Nothing brave about a psychological meltdown either."

What Steven did was overreact to an absurd degree and endanger people's lives. I in no way justify the behavior of that passenger, but the level of support this douche-bag is receiving for behaving like an undisciplined child leaves me outraged.

It's one thing to be angry and splutter and curse with your friends to relieve stress. I do that.
You don't do that shit in the real world because there are consequences and an expectation that you behave like an adult that is aware of such things.

Get off your blogs and anonymous forums for a few minutes. There are real human beings on both sides of these stories we're reading. Should customers or employees be jerks? No. Do we all have off days and slip up? Yes. Do we all go and rage in such a public and irresponsible way as to harm or endanger other human beings? I should hope not.

Don't encourage this crap.
Steven Slater deserves to go to jail. Anyone that tries to imitate the Jenny story in reality deserves what they get n the form of being practically unemployable.

I may spend a lot of time on the internet, but I live in the real world, with real people.
I don't expect perfection, but to use a phrase Wil Wheaton has somewhat immortalized, "Don't be a dick!"

Date: 2010-08-13 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eldanildiel.livejournal.com
I completely agree.

And kudos for being right AND quoting Wil Wheaton in the same rant.

Date: 2010-08-16 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfgrove.livejournal.com
Thanks.

Damn skippy. Now we just need to convince Wil that D*Con is cooler than PAX and he should at least try us for one year.

Date: 2010-08-16 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eldanildiel.livejournal.com
Seriously. I know he loves PAX, but one year? Is that too much to ask? Wheeeaaatoooon!

Date: 2010-08-13 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] artikgato.livejournal.com
I hadn't heard about the Steven Slater story (I don't follow news at all any more, xD), but my jaw literally dropped when I read about how he quit. Seriously? Wow. I could have understood swearing at the man to his face or something, but all the crap that he did? And in an economy like today where most people are even lucky to have a minimum wage job? Holy crap. oO

Date: 2010-08-16 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfgrove.livejournal.com
Yeah. And now he's saying he'd like his job back, pretty please. Pfft. You dug your grave, go lie in it.

Date: 2010-08-13 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asatira.livejournal.com
Yeah. Somehow I missed the Jenny Whiteboard thing, but only caught it when it was revealed to be a hoax. I have caught the Steven Slater story. Yeah, a part of me applauded the act because, as you said, who wouldn't want to act out like that. That said, I do agree that he over reacted, did more harm than good, and deserves the charges against him. The worst part, they're STILL talking about him! Gods, he's not that newsworthy. It is not that slow a news week.

"Don't be a dick!" seconded, or thirded.

Date: 2010-08-16 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfgrove.livejournal.com
Well, the major news stations get bored I guess.

The entire thing irritates me because people are treating this like it was a good way to react.

Date: 2010-08-13 04:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alchemi.livejournal.com
Slater is an asshole who risked lives.

But I will defend (fictional) Jenny. First, unlike Slater, the boss was the one with the power. He was also the one abusing his position. On top of that, Jenny's (fictional) actions did not pose any real risk of unjustified harm (no 3rd parties were placed at risk).

While I agree it would be best policy for an abused worker to calmly and professionally respond to the boss and go up the chain, I also think that (a) abusers rely on silence, (b) the person without the power deserves the benefit of the doubt and the sympathy, (c) the asshole abuser shouldn't be able to rely on the abused being the mature, responsible one.

So I agree with you 100% with regard to Slater, and disagree about 95% re "Jenny".

Date: 2010-08-14 12:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] haleysings.livejournal.com
This is pretty much how I feel. I think Slater's sort of sympathetic because I can understand needing to just RUN AWAY in a situation like that (and I'd be much more sympathetic if running didn't require risking injury or death or costing the company a ton of money), but I do think in the end he overreacted and was a jerk. Jenny, though? I don't really see what's wrong with what she (supposedly) did, except for maybe revealing that her boss was wasting time on a facebook game. (And even then...don't waste time on a facebook game.)

I can say I wouldn't quit how Jenny did unless I planned to go into business for myself or was going to earn money in entertainment or something, though.

Date: 2010-08-16 05:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfgrove.livejournal.com
I'd be a lot more sympathetic to Slater if he had just walked off the job, not have a meltdown that included theft and endangering others.

On Jenny, read my response to [livejournal.com profile] alchemi.

Date: 2010-08-16 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfgrove.livejournal.com
Yes. (And now he wants his job back. HAH.)

I get that the boss was abusing power, but that's why we have HR departments. If you feel you can't go to your boss, you go straight to HR. At least try to work it out in a mature professional manner first. (The hoax quit was supposedly the very next day from the overheard phone call.) If going through the proper channels got her blown off, then you can fairly escalate it outside the workplace.
She may not like him, but publicly slamming him to the entire office and the internet is super unprofessional, and if it turned out to be her blowing things out of scale (i.e. HPOA can also be Highly Paid Office Assistant), his[fictional boss] reputation and hire-ability is just as damaged as hers is.

Date: 2010-08-19 05:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pyro-ike.livejournal.com
Sounds like some interesting stories, but not exactly heroism material. Or maybe the crappy jobs I've worked haven't been that crappy after all?

The whole emergency-slide-out-of-the-plane-you-quit thing is pretty childish, and I guess it's deserving of the 5 criminal charges.. But on the bright side, it brings up this great mental image of the dude sliding out of the plane, a beer in each hand, with a face that says only one thing: "Haters gonna hate."

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