How to Deal With Grumpy Old Farts

October 19, 2009 at 11:54 am (Uncategorized)

I work around a lot of old boaters, and many of them have a major chip on their shoulder.  I can’t tell you how many times I have to hear about the economy, or their bad health (while they inhale a Marlboro red), rising slip fees, politics, or the expensive broken thing on their boat.

Day after day, the constant complaining starts to wear on even the most positive customer service expert.  I try and keep my head up by doing the following:

1- Change the subject.  This works especially well with politics.  I actually have imposed a no-politics rule in my office.  Make a joke out of it… “You know we don’t talk politics in here, the ambulance response is too slow!”  Also, talking about the weather is always a welcome topic, even in Southern California.

2- Be a bright spot of sunshiney happiness.  No matter how annoyed I am, I try to find some light, positive twist to whatever they say.  This is a skill, and takes practice, but can actually help both parties feel better.  Fake it ’til you make it!

3- Just listen and try to empathize with them.  Say “I understand how you feel.  I’m really sorry.”  This is so simple, and sometimes all people want to do is rant and get it off their chest.  It is not possible for me to solve every problem, but I can definitely improve their opinion of me if I hear them out.

4- Jokes!  First, feel it out.  If the person seems to want to complain just for the sake of complaining, it can be a huge relief to joke around with them.  I wonder how it must be for a grumpy curmudgeon, and I think a lot of them need a hug and a laugh.

5- Ask them about something personal.  How is their family?  Job?  This doesn’t have to be a change of subject; ask them about how the economy has affected them, then always give a similar problem of your own to relate to them.  Bridge that gap!

I used to really dislike dealing with older people, but I’ve found that a little patience and understanding goes a long way.  Now they know me as the one to talk to, and I don’t mind at all!  If I can make their day better, even for a second, it was worth it.


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Bailing Yourself Out

February 7, 2009 at 3:12 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s been difficult for me to listen to the news or talk about politics with anyone for a long time.  Not that I dislike it… I read a lot about what’s going on, more than most people I know.  Maybe I have disinterested, disenfranchised friends.

I just hate the injustice of it all.  How the rich corporate CEOS screw over the working class.  The story is always the same, and I don’t wanna hear it.

Just working full time, being a college dropout (even if only temporarily), and paying bills is slowly making me feel ten years older.  Excuse me for this soon-to-be cliche: where the fuck is my bailout?  Another stimulus might help for a week, but a full credit reversal is in order.  I pay ten percent of my meager income, own an old car, rely a lot on my boyfriend for groceries, and still need to work for my mom once a week for fun money.

That’s the worst part: it does not work to quit spending cold turkey.  We always need to buy things.  It’s ingrained.  And completely necessary.  I’m not going to get a better paying job unless I look and feel good, and that costs.  So I give myself little treats now, to avoid having to binge shop.

Slippery slope to overspending again, but I’m trying really hard to learn a new habit.  It feels good to make early student loan payments well before they are do, for more than minimum.  It feels bad to know the interest isn’t even paid off yet.

Now that I’m responsible, I am acutely aware of these strange thoughts, of the future and financial calculations.  I want someone else to be responsible again.  I believe I deserve a new beginning (or loan).  But some of the same companies that take my money get an easy out , so why can’t I?

At least a few bad credit marks are about to go away.  It’s a start.  My start.

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