Yesterday afternoon, I popped into the local sorting office of the Post Office to collect a packet that they needed me to sign for, but could not get when they delivered due to me being out. This is a common enough task I am sure and many of you will have also undertaken such a task.
Yet, while I stood waiting in the queue that stretched not only across the room, but into the next room and then through the front door outside into the cold, I noticed a sign on the wall. I am sure that you are no doubt well aware of the tedium that is a long queue and rather than strike up a conversation with someone who could potentially be a maniac, I chose to read that sign. It was a a piece of laminated A4 paper and was typed in Bold large print and read as follows.
Verbal abuse of Post Office workers will not be tolerated. Any such abuse will cause the counter to be closed and the Police to be called.
It all seemed a little harsh, after all how many of us grew up loving Postman Pat? Are people really that bad tempered, rude and obnoxious that they can shout abuse at lovable Pat and his black and white cat Jess?
When I am waiting in a queue I have noticed that time becomes strangely relative. Maybe you have noticed this too. While waiting in line to be served by what ever counter you are waiting for, keep an eye on your watch and see if time slows down for you too? It is an unusual effect of queuing and I am sure that Einstein also noted this. Outside, life continues at normal speed, but inside, time slows down and then when you step outside, it all jumps on you with a sudden leap forcing you to catch up with a jolt!
When I finally got to the front of the very long continent crossing queue, I came face to face with the woman behind the counter, let's out of congenial politeness call her Postwoman Patricia, although she really did not have a cat, black and white or otherwise with her. It was however right at that very moment that I suddenly understood the need for the big bold print sign.
It seems that the Post Office are now employing people who have no understanding of basic manners or customer service. I was spoken to with such venom and bile that I was utterly taken aback and started to laugh. Which caused others in the continent spanning queue behind me start to laugh too. I remained polite through out our brief relationship of service user meeting service provider and not once was I given even the vaguest of half smiles or the slightest nod of fake good will. I am forced to ask what could have possibly caused such an attitude from some one who no doubt has a home and a family and maybe even a black and white cat?
Was it perhaps the excessively long hours she was forced to work by an uncaring system of Governance, simply to be able to provide sustenance for her family? Maybe it was an uncaring management system that forces her to be placed in a position where she must spend all day indoors in a building that slows down time? Or just maybe, after a long hard shift of dealing with other human beings, she was simply tired and grumpy? I seriously hoped that by giving her the opportunity to be rude to me, she could go home and relax, probably by cuddling her precious cat, black and white or otherwise.
So that was the post office, but what else do we deal with on a almost daily basis? Have you ever met a Chugger? Do you know what a Chugger is? Well, a Chugger, my dear reader, is a person employed by an agency for an hourly wage to stand on a busy high street and charity mug shoppers, no matter who they are. These are the people who charities hire at vast sums of cash to stand there in town, with their fake smiles of joy and then tell you what a terrible time what ever Polar Bear, Political Prisoner, Starving Child or Patch of Rain Forest is having right at that very second. In fact that very second that you are wandering about enjoying the richness of your own fat contented lives. They tell you this while they stand there, noble and brave, unafraid of the elements, the hunters, the torturers, the warlords and the loggers and try to make you part with your top secret bank details, so you can pay their charity some of your hard earned cash.
Now remember, there are some things that you really need to consider when dealing with Chuggers. Namely, how much of your charitable donation is going to fund Chuggers likes them? How much of your charitable donation is being paid out into a large salary to the Chairman of the board of the company that runs the Chuggers? Also bare in mind that some of these Chuggers will be on commission, the more suckers they get to sign up to their very worthy causes, the more cash they can earn, so that they too can give it all to charity! Of course they give all of their wages to charity, because after all, they can survive on the warm glow of just smug self righteousness. These people will also tend to step right into path and try to engage you in conversation. How do I know this you may ask? Because in this last week I have encountered these people and it left me feeling rather annoyed, both with my self and with them.
My reason for feeling cross with myself is because I broke the golden rule of dealing with Chuggers, I acknowledged their existence. They work in packs you know, I managed to slip past the first and then was almost tripped up by the second, causing me to have to stop in my tracks. Yet it was the third who got me. As I tried to walk around him, he walked into my path and just kept coming. Now as much as I hate being rude, I could take no more after a day of bad news and worse officials. So as he closed in me I told him to Fuck off! This is not like me, I am a member of several charities and pay directly from my bank, having researched my chosen charity and then found them myself.
The young man did not stop smiling as he continued to close in on me, but he did inform me quietly and while still smiling that big fake smile that I was in fact, an arsehole! Now, as much as this may be true and yes I can admit it, I did not need such a man dealing with my emotions on a day when I am barely able to deal with them myself. One swift word later and the man with the fake smile was silently think that I was an arsehole, but at least he then had the good grace to keep it to himself. However, the town council are aware of Chuggers and they know that they can be trouble. I know this because I phoned them up once I got home and made some inquiries. Chuggers it seems are able to work our streets by the good grace of our councils and they have conditions placed upon them.
So I have some advice for you if you encounter Chuggers who are annoying, make a complaint, talk to your local officials and get these annoying people off of our streets. Then because you are caring and do want to give to charity, go and research one. For me, I chose a couple of human rights charities that works world wide, a local wild life charity and another one that has meaning to me. It is not that hard to find a group that represents your beliefs and you know what? If you do this, you really do not need chuggers.
As for the Post Office, maybe they do get people in there who are so rude and violently aggressive that it justifies the bold print sign, but does that really justify them being rude to all of their customers?