How Is This MY Bird?

This is my all-time favorite classic incident regarding customer service.  My former assistant manager, Eric, gets a call from a customer, who says that a mockingbird is dive-bombing people as they exit the elevator from our garage.  The mockingbird lives in a tree on the property next to ours.  And what, she wants to know, are we going to do about it?  I might have said, what do you think we should do about it?  I mean, does she want us to shoot it?  Poison it?  Or I might have suggested, wear a hard hat to work.  But Eric, fresh from university graduation with a double major in business and hospitality, is still under the illusion that the customer is always right.  This philosophy works reasonably well if you’re a worker bee, but as a manager, you have to get real.  So when Eric hangs up the phone, he turns to me and says, “How is this MY bird?”  I was laughing so hard I had to put my head down on my desk.  I laughed so hard I was crying.  I couldn’t even speak.  Welcome, Eric, to the real world! 

But Eric–see above re: recent university graduate–felt some sort of obligation to do something.  So he went to the landscaping crew for the City’s Parks and Recreation department–figuring they probably encountered mockingbirds more often–and asked for their advice.  They said, Um, we dunno.  Put up a sign saying “Beware Of Bird”?  At that, I was completely hysterical with laughter.  I never heard from Eric as to what his response was to the customer.  He was probably afraid to tell me, afraid I would laugh myself into a heart attack.  He of course thought I was mean and cynical, and that I just didn’t “get it”.  I of course got it just fine, and thought he was an idiot, so I guess we’re even.  I didn’t really think he was an idiot, per se, it’s just that he didn’t have enough experience  to blow off what he needed to blow off.  As the saying goes, good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.  It’s hard to have any good judgement when you’re twenty-five years old.    As for the mean and cynical part, sometimes I just wanted to say to him, if that’s true, how have I survived 18 years as a manager in this particular business?  Especially having to navigate the tricky world of politics.  You just want to say, STFU and watch me.  But that doesn’t work.  People don’t learn by having you insist on it. 

All this leads into the night I had on Friday.  A woman came to me and the security guard demanding her money back for the $5.00 she paid to park.  She said she was behind like 100 other cars, all of which went to Level 1 of the garage, which was full.  So they had to all turn around and navigate the slow ascent to the upper levels of the garage.  It took her 30 minutes to find a parking space.  By the time she got where she was going, she was late for the event she planned to attend, and couldn’t find the friends she intended to meet.  She was miserable, and practically in tears, and for that reason, I was tempted to give her her money back.  Almost.  Sometimes you have to make a decision in a split second, which is when experience comes in handy. 

Here was my thought process, which took place in that split second:  You came downtown during an event on the night before the biggest game of the Florida State football season–the game with Oklahoma–and you thought finding a parking place would be easy?  999,999 other people were here too.  When I left that night at 8:30 P.M. , I had to laugh.  People were parked everywhere.  The towing companies made a bundle that night, I’m sure!  I had to drive a half mile before I stopped encountering people walking to their cars.  Some people might have opted to give her her money back to forestall her complaining to the City, and she is the very type of person who will.  The City really, really hates complaints.  When they complain about getting a complaint, I say (in a nice way), Grow Up.  If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. 

So I said No.  The fact is, we only guaranteed you a parking space for your $5.00.  We are not responsible for you meeting your friends, arriving on time for your event, calling you up to say “you might want to get an early start”, or anything else.  In other words, this is not my bird. 


17 responses to “How Is This MY Bird?

  1. I see that my new downtown parking space is going to come in very handy….

    As for that bird….

    We watch Seinfeld after the ABC news before Rick Steves come on PBS. A few days ago was the episode where Elaine can’t sleep because of a barking dog. So she engages Newman to “take care” of the dog. Of course, it doesn’t go as planned. But if it were me with such a problem, I would use a “midnight plan”….muhahaha.

    Part of my criminal past includes giving a barking dog chocolate Ex-Lax. Muhahaha!

  2. sc, for a mild-mannered and professional person, you are secretly an evil alien. That was a bad thing to do to the dog–it wasn’t his fault. Now if you had given Ex-Lax to the owners….
    On the other hand, maybe I should call you when the new resident rooster in the neighborhood becomes too hard to bear. Actually, I haven’t heard him crow in a couple of days. So either the neighbors were chicken-sitting, or he was dinner.

    • > evil alien

      I believe in “self-reliance”…muhahaha! The “system” is for the impotent!

      As for that rooster…I’m temporarily stumped as to a solution. In my old age, I am not as creative as in my youth. The spirit is willing; the mind is weak.

  3. Friday night was awful and for that reason I went the other way (North) to Chilis for family dinner. Meanwhile my daughter in law spent 90 minutes getting from the Turlington Building to Chilis.

    My favorite movie for asking for the money back is Lost in America, of course Gary Marshall always cracks me up before he even opens his mouth.

  4. As for parking luck sometimes is on ones side as well. My biggest concern was that the lot I choose to park in to have the shortest possible walk after 4 hours of standing, screaming and heart stopping action would be full. As I pulled in (at 3:30) the attendant said “congratulations you got the last available space.”

  5. Amazing, pt–the last space at 3:30 P.M. for an 8:00 P.M. game. You should have a talk with Bird Woman re: getting an early start. I realize that Tallahassee is not Atlanta, but some people seem to want to treat it as if it’s a drive to Wal-Mart on Sunday afternoon in Albany Georgia. Even more amazing (but not that surprising)…90 minutes from the Turlington Building to Chili’s. Gaines to Monroe to Appalachee…couldn’t have been a worse place to be, but there’s no choice really.

  6. Whoops Chilis on North Thomasville. It is only 5 minutes from Son’s house in Killarne where I stay on Football weekends. The rates are pretty good there although the initial investment was prohibitive:)

  7. Ah–then 90 minutes makes more sense. Now don’t forget that we have a tentative lunch date for Kool Beanz…

  8. How r either of the last 2 Fridays in Oct 4 you? Noonish?

  9. Either of those Fridays are fine, so you pick the one that’s best for you. Noon is perfect.

  10. spencercourt, it doesn’t sound as if you would have time to join us, unless you’re occasionally allowed to make an exception to the 45 minute rule.

  11. By the way, pt, you have amused me, because you are speaking text-message speak 🙂

  12. Not a criticism, just an observation 🙂 The world has changed…I get it a lot on Facebook.

  13. I text my family a lot it is a perfect single message medium. It also allows for very flexible calender management. And tracking of lost members. I’ll wait a couple of weeks and see how the script plays out but am leaning towards the 28th.

  14. Again, not a criticism 🙂 I really do get what you’re saying, but I am for some reason, resistant to texting. I don’t even understand why myself, really. In many other areas, I am not exactly a fuddy-duddy about technology. I have a new cell phone plan now, which allows me unlimited phone and text. Like I will use the text part. But I needed it, because other people do text me. Especially my employees, who seem to have plans that allow them unlimited texting, but a very limited number of minutes to actually talk on the phone. and that’s all I want a phone for. My new plan, I eliminated any access to the Internet. I don’t use it, never will, and don’t want to.

  15. My boss was all excited because he got a new phone a couple of years ago. He was demonstrating to me how cool it was. You could push a button and type in “movies”, for example, and it would tell you all the movie theaters in like a 20-mile radius. Clicking on one of them would tell you what was playing. All I could think about was, And you need this…why? Of course, he does travel a very great deal. But I also thought, “And you are paying…how much for this?” Of course, the answer to that is zero. The company pays for his cell phone–as they do for mine. In my new plan, I couldn’t figure out why I should make the company pay for something I’ll never use, or use once a year, just because it’s cool. If I wouldn’t pay for it myself, then I’m not going to make them do it either.

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