Last week I wrote about customer service and how frustrating it is when my role as a customer is not the focal point of the clerk.
I’ve never been a retail clerk, but I did work as the small claims/district civil clerk in the Circuit Clerk’s Office where I served the public every day.
Most of my customers were very nice, polite folks. Some were real stinkers.
I had one customer who was always a little too friendly, if you get my drift. Each time he came in, he would be sure to tell me that his wife was out of town for the weekend and he just didn’t know what he was going to do without her. On the day he finally got up enough nerve to actually ask me to accompany him to a local dance, there was a co-worker in the next room who heard every word. It was all I could do to keep it together, because I knew she was in there silently laughing her head off.
Sometimes it was hard not to laugh, though. When a young man came in and wanted to have his marriage “annoyed,” I laughed a little and said, “I think you’re way past annoyed.”
One lady was suing the driver of the car that had run into her truck. After she left, I looked at the form to see what details she had added. I saw “mintle angus” and thought maybe they had hit a cow named Mintle. Then I realized she meant “mental anguish.” I’m glad she wasn’t there when I read that, because I don’t think I could have kept from laughing.
A couple of times, customers insisted they were not on the second floor of our building, that they had not come upstairs via the stairs or the elevator. I told them that they may not have come up, but they were going to have to go down to get out.
What aggravated me the most, though, were the folks who insisted on arguing about how things should be done.
The conversation would be something like this:
“Walter owes me money, so I want to garnish his check.”
“Do you have a lawsuit against Walter?”
“No, I just want to get my money out of his check.”
“You’ll have to sue him first and try to get a judgment against him.”
“No,” getting a little exasperated, “you don’t understand. Walter owes me money and I want to get it from his check. He works down at the chicken plant.”
“I’m sorry,” getting a lot exasperated, “but you’ll have to sue him first. That’s how it works.”
“Do you mean to tell me that I can’t get my money out of Walter’s check unless I take him to court?”
“Yes, that’s what I mean. Would you like to fill out a complaint to get the ball rolling?”
At this point, some would walk away in a huff, railing against the injustice of it all. Some would just stand there and stare at me in disbelief.
Sometimes I would have to tell them they needed to see an attorney. There was only so much that could be done in small claims court, so seeing an attorney would be the next step.
One guy asked me about suing someone for $100,000 in small claims. I dutifully said that he couldn’t use small claims court for that amount and he would need to see an attorney. He used up the next five minutes asking me the same question five different ways. My answer was the same each time.
Finally, I interrupted his sixth try and said, “No matter what you say to me, I’m going to tell you to see an attorney.”
He looked puzzled and then said, “Oh, I have to see an attorney about this?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Okay,” he said agreeably. “Thank you for your help.”
I’m still shaking my head over that one.