Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Story

- Hello. Can you help me? I really need to “go”… Like now; could you tell where…?
- No, I can’t, I’m currently on break. If you don’t mind waiting, I’ll be able to help you in 10 minutes or so.
- But you’re standing there anyway! Why can’t you just answer my question? It’s kind of an emergency really.
- I wish I could but because I’m on break, it’s against our collective bargaining agreement to answer customer questions.
- Didn’t you just answer my question?
- Yes but I answered as an individual, not as a representative of the company. That would have been a breech of agreement and could have resulted in a grievance.
- That’s ridiculous. Can I ask the individual where I can find…?
- No, no, don’t even go there. What you would be doing would be forcing me to act more or less as a scab, a sort of strike-breaker.
- But you’re not on strike, your on break. At worse that would make you a break-breaker.
- Same difference…
- Have you ever consulted for your condition? I think you may suffer from acute mythomania or a really bad case of dissociative identity disorder!
- I don’t fully understand what you are getting at but I will assume it is only mildly derogatory…
- I would say that “mildly” was certainly misplaced in that statement. But, never mind. Let me try another approach. Hypothetically speaking, if one needed to go…?
- Sir, please. Don’t force me to call Security.
- You wouldn’t dare… Anyway, I’m sure Security would see the ridicule of the situation…
- Security is governed by the same collective agreement, so…
- So what! All I need is for you to answer a simple question. One that anyone – even you with your apparently very limited abilities – would have no difficulty in…
- Sir, there is a limit to the abuse I am willing to accept. These defamatory comments directed towards me, the individual, could constitute grounds for a formal complaint.
- This is absurd. We are in the busiest time of the year: people are stressed out with their last minute shopping; there are thousands upon thousands running around trying to get ready for the holidays like so many cranium-lacking poultry and now, to top it all off, they all will need to face you and your kind: over-protected, under-competent employees that hide behind collective bargaining agreements to avoid doing their job!
- Sir, I would suggest absurdity is in the eye of the beholder. Isn’t it idiotic to feel pressure from having to buy gifts? Isn’t it foolish to wait until the last minute to do your holiday preparations? Isn’t it ludicrous to expect that someone will forgo his own rights just to make your life easier?
- Wow! Of all the people in the world that could have crossed my path today, I had to run into you… You are by far the biggest waste of oxygen I have ever seen. At least if you were capable of photosynthesis, you would be showing some productivity…
- Sir, you don’t seem to understand my position. I am but a small cog in the big wheel of my labour union. What I am doing right now is not for my benefit but for that of my labour brothers and sisters around the world who are united in the face of globalisation and the commoditization of human industry.
- I can’t believe it! Where the hell are you from? And who ever thought you had the profile to work in customer service? Now I know what people in the USSR must have felt like when, expecting to buy a loaf of bread, were given a Lada rear view mirror instead!
- Well at least the Soviet Union treated everyone equally…
- Yeah, they all had an equal chance to be sent straight to the Gulag on a whim from a well connected party member. God I wish I was in that position right now!
- Well, let me say this to you sir… Oh my lord, my break is over! Give me a second while me the employee returns… Hello sir, how can I help you?
- You can switch it on and off like that? Absolutely amazing! In a parallel universe maybe you could be the subject of Stevenson’s novel instead of Dr. Jekyll… But there’s no point in beating a dead horse. Would you mind telling me where I can find the men’s room?
- I would not mind at all, if it wasn’t for the fact that my job description states, and I quote: “An employee may be required to perform other related duties not explicitly defined in this document from time to time. These need to be specifically authorized by the employee’s immediate supervisor prior to being undertaken”. Since providing directions to customers is not part of my job description, I will need to call my supervisor to ensure I am empowered to answer that question for you.
- Kafka? Kafka? Come out where ever you are! We need to find a way to conclude this most enlightening conversation as I really, really need to “go”. How about if you, the individual, tell me where you go when you need to go?
- That’s simple enough. I go down the aisle between cosmetics and jewellery, turn left at ladies underwear and walk straight towards the back wall…
- Great thanks!
- No sir, stop! You can’t go there because the door is locked and only employees are allowed in!
- Sh*t, I give up! I just don’t know how to get the information from you… Wait, maybe there’s an alternative… Yeah, that’s it… Excuse me, but I would like to try on this beautiful silk scarf. Would you be so kind as to open up a change room for me?
The overarching moral of this story, if one is indeed needed, is that most things, when pushed to the extreme become absurd. But, hidden behind that is another more implicit moral that when one really needs to “go”, one should never rely on outside help.

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