Tag Archives: parklng

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.