Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Customer Service

Thanks to our new management I am no longer in the HR department. I like this change because the work in HR became rather unpleasant. Instead of hiring people as we used to, we were mainly firing them, and many of our employees, especially those who were fired, did not like that. We call those employees "disgruntled" and they call us all kind of names. Instead, I was transferred to the Customer Service Department, right after many Customer Service employees were fired due to the lack of customers.
At first I was pretty confused.
"Whom should I serve if there are no customers?" I asked my boss.
"Don't worry," he said. "There may be no customers at the moment but that does not mean that there won't be customer service. You see, we know our products and trust that sooner rather than later they will break and require some service. This is how we designed them. But first we need to teach you about this new job and I cannot think of a better teacher than Sandy. She has been here forever and she knows everything. Why don't you go to her office?"
I went to Sandy's office and knocked on the door.
"A minute," I heard her "I'm coming." and indeed she did.
She was blonde, like the rest of the staff and she smiled while she said "Have a seat," and I obeyed.
It was exactly then that her phone rang and she picked it up.
"Hi, this is Sandy," she said "How can I help you?"
She paused for a few seconds and then said
"Oh, Candy. You saved me a call. You would not believe what I heard."
Again she paused for a few seconds and then said
"You know that new girl, what's her name?"
"No, the one with the short blonde hair cut, like Kate from Jon and Kate. What's her name?"
"Yes, Cindy. Guess who her boy friend is."
"No, but you're getting close. Yes, Ron, from Operations. Isn't it time that we have some in-house romance?"
Long pause.
"I am using the one across the street. What's their name? Nail Master or something."
"You can try him, but I have to warn you. A tatoo artist is not a nail artist. These are two different professions."
"Mandy? She does not know what she's talking about."
I did not realize at the moment that I was witnessing the beginning of World War III.
"Ok, Candy. Do whatever you like. I just warned you." Sandy said and hanged up. I could see that she was upset.
"Mandy," she said with disdain "and I thought that she's my friend."
Exactly then the phone rang again.
"Good morning?" I heard Sandy say. "This is the ACME company. How may I help you?"
and then
"Oh, Cindy darling, it's you, thank God. We have a new manager and he is here with me. What's going down with you, dear."
She was quiet for a moment and then continued
"No," she said. "He's pretty cute but he has a big fault on his finger if you know what I mean."
She was quiet again for a few seconds and then said
"Of course, your problems are more important than mine. What's your problem now?"
She listened for a few minutes and then said
"No, you can't go to the tattoo artist for nail work. It's a totally different specialty."
and after a few seconds
"Heather doesn't know what she's talking about."
I could almost hear the tanks moving to the front.
and then she continued
"You know what? Do whatever you want, just don't blame me."
and she hanged up.
I figured that she must be irritated after that exchange and I decided to go to Mandy, my own new secretary, instead. She too was "working the phone" as they say and I only succeeded to hear a few words of hers
"Hi Heather, what's up?" she said.
and then
"Who said that? Candy? You're sure? Who told you?"
a short pause and then
"Cindy? You can't trust her."
At this point I decided I have to meet Heather face to face - I had to prevent the war at any cost. Luckily I knew where her office was and I went straight to there. I was not surprised at all to hear her phone ring as I approached her desk
"Hello," she said "Hi Mandy, you wouldn't believe what I have to tell you. Sandy is saying that you cannot be trusted. I swear, she said that to Candy."
It was then that I decided to take a break before the war breaks out.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Barboonyas*

My father's work place was in Tel Aviv while our family lived in Holon, a suburb south of Tel Aviv. Every afternoon, after a long day of work, my father had to go to the Cental Station in Tel Aviv and wait for bus no. 8 to come and take him home. The Central Station in Tel Aviv was the busiest market place in the whole country at the time, and all kinds of vendors were offering their merchandise to everybody, particularly to people like my father who were waiting in line for the bus to come and had nothing to do in the meantime.
One Friday, as he was standing in line, my father was approached by a vendor who was trying to sell some fish. These were not just plain fish but a very special kind known as "Barboonyas". When fried, these fish were a real delight, and my father knew that we were going to enjoy them, especially on the coming Sabbath. On top of that, the vendor offered the Barboonyas for a bargain price - only one lira per kilo compared to ten liras per kilo which they were charging in the store. Evidently, the vendor was stuck with the Barboonyas which he had not succeeded to sell and was now anxious to get rid of them. My father did not hesitate and bought three kilos of the Barboonyas - an opportunity like that does not come every day.
He was quite cheerful when he got home carrying the bag with the Barboonyas. Going straight to the kitchen, he laid the bag on the table, and proudly announced
"Did I bring you all a surprise!"
My Mom who had just finished cleaning the kitchen for the Sabbath, opened the bag, looked inside, and said angrily
"Are you out of your mind or what?"
"What?" my father did not understand.
"Don't you know what day is today?" she raised her voice.
"Friday," he said "These are in honor of the Sabbath."
"In honor of the Sabbath" she taunted him "And who's going to clean them? You?"
"I just wanted to surprise you." he tried to defend himself, raising his voice too.
"And out of all the days of the week couldn't you pick any other day, let's say Thursday, to surprise me?" she answered "Did it have to be on Friday when I clean the whole house?"
"On Thursday" he gave it a last try "I couldn't afford them. They were ten liras per kilo. Today they were only one lira per kilo."
"You know what?" she said, boiling with anger "Do with them whatever you like. I'm not touching them."
"Fine" said my father and went out of the kitchen.
"Fine" she mimicked him and washed her hands, signaling that she is done working for the day.

At this point I, who witnessed all that, couldn't take it any more.
"I'll tell you what." I said "I'm gonna clean them."
I took the bag to the yard and cleaned the fish. All that my Mom had to do now was fry them. Boy, did we have a feast when we came back from the beach on Saturday and my Mom served us the Barboonyas.

* A story by Hana Salik