I work in retail/customer service, because I’m a moron. I say I’m a moron for one simple reason: only a moron would willingly subject themselves to the amount of abuse I take on a daily basis. Now, if it were face-to-face, that’d be one thing; I love a good argument, and I’m happy to have one while standing in front of someone. Unfortunately, 90% of the shit I hear from customers comes while I’m talking with them on the phone. Yesterday, I had a guy tell me that, among other things, he would “see [me] in court” because there was damage on the car he rented that wasn’t there when he picked it up. Despite the obvious shortcomings in his statement (namely, I’m not going to end up in court, not to mention the fact that he signed a contract saying the car had no damage on it), it got me thinking: what is it that emboldens people to talk to another human so disrespectfully on the phone?

A large part of it comes, I suspect, from the anonymity factor- I’ve never met this guy before and will probably never meet him (unless we’re in court together), so he feels it’s safe to say whatever he wants to a stranger. And I get it, to some degree, but does that really make you feel better? Insulting some dude you’ve never even met? (Wait, I totally get it. That would actually make me feel a lot better.) Anyway, here is a list of phrases I hear on a regular basis that bug me; translations are included for clarity.

1) “Let me speak to your manager.”

Translation: “You’ve outlived your usefulness. Also, I think you’re a fucking idiot, and I’d like to speak to someone who isn’t.”

2) “Why would you offer a pickup service if you can’t pick me up in (some place nowhere near my office)? Is that good customer service?”

Translation: “I don’t know how to read a fucking map.”

3) “I’m not paying for (this thing I agreed to purchase), and I’m calling my credit card company. They’ll take care of this.”

Translation: “I’m under the impression that American Express = Supreme Court.”

4) “I’m writing a letter to the Better Business Bureau, and this company is going down!”

Translation: “I AM AN INSANE PERSON.”

My point is this: yelling at someone on the telephone, while cathartic, accomplishes absolutely nothing. In fact, it’s counterintuitive; if you yell at me, I’m less likely to help you and more likely to want to throw you down a fucking elevator shaft.

Don’t yell at people on the phone.