Friday, June 24, 2011

Next Time I'm Turning Her Loose. Seriously. I Mean It.

Is it only deaths that come in three's?

I'm beginning to think that Sister Sunshine moments do too, because I've been full up on crazy this week.

We have a climate-controlled storage unit at a local business.  I've had this unit for three years. We rented it in June of 2008 to store my mother's stuff when we sold her house. (God had other plans for her cancer and healed her completely.) I've never been a day late on the $115.00 rent; it has come right out of my checking account every month on the first without fail for three years.

We've also had many other business dealings with these people who own the mini storage. We've purchased a car from them (from one of their side businesses), and we've ordered signs for our church VBS several years (another side business). (And incidentally, now you know who they are.) Over the years, I've had several bizarre encounters with That Woman who manages the mini storage.

To put it concisely, she is a jackwagon.

She's short spoken, ill tempered, smart mouthed, slow to listen, and just rude in general. And today, she finally crossed The Line and spoke to me that way in front of youth from my church (who will swear without any coercion that I behaved myself from start to finish).

I went to empty my storage unit (that same one that I've been paying for the past three years in a timely manner), and my lock wouldn't open. Upon closer examination, something was jammed inside of the lock. It looked like a key was broken off in the locking mechanism. Since I haven't even been over there since October of last year, this was a little distressing.

I walked to the office and explained that there was something jammed in the lock, and I wasn't sure what to do next. I was told (sharply, with an exasperated sigh as though I had caused the problem) that there would be a fee of fifty dollars to core out the lock, and they would have to charge me for a new lock from the office.

She then indicated that we could review the tape to see "what was put in there" (said with a clever little one eyebrow lift implying not so subtlety that I'd broken my own key in the lock). I showed her the key on my ring to the storage lock and she said, "That's not the key." I insisted that it was because it's the only key I've ever had to any lock anywhere in the whole world, but I can't prove it because I can't put it in the lock because something is stuck.

She said, "Well, it came with two keys, where is the other one?" I told her the other key was at home on a nail by the back door, forty minutes away. She insinuated that IF I had that key and that IF it wasn't broken, they'd see what was in the lock when they cored it out and determine what to do next (basically calling me a liar).

I said, oh, that's okay, it's no problem, we don't need to core the lock, I'll be back with bolt cutters in a little while (thinking that I'm sort of being helpful here). Then I was informed, hands on hips and head bobbing (her, not me), that it is against the property rules and THE LAW to cut the lock off, that the owner would have to do it. Okay, I say that I understand completely, and I asked for his card.

She gave me that look you give boys who come to pick up your daughters for car dates, you know the look, squinty-eyed intense scrutiny.


(Um, I don't know, so that I can call him?) "So that I can contact Mr. XYZ to resolve this." (And mostly because I don't appreciate your people skills.)

She asked again, "Why?" this time slitting her eyes so hard she looked foreign for a second. (Keep in mind that I have two youth boys from my church in the office with me who are listening to this entire exchange.)

I explained in a calm, quiet voice (the boys said later that the calmer and quieter I got, the madder and louder she got) that I didn't think I should be responsible for the lock being jammed and that I could cut it off for free instead of having to pay for it to be removed, especially since I'm holding a key to the unit in my hand right there on the spot and have a photo ID that shows it's my locker.

I then politely asked if she'd come look at it to see if I was missing anything. She said, "In a minute."

I backed away from the counter and waited. She looked up after ten seconds and snapped, "What do you want?"

(I paused, wondering if this was a trick question.) "Um, I'm waiting for you."

She huffed and rolled her eyes, practically barking at me, "Ma'am, I'm going to be a-while."

I explained that I have people here right now (gesturing to the boys) to move the stuff out of the unit and that I live forty minutes away, so I really needed to wait for her to come. She indicated in short order that she wasn't going anywhere with me and that she'd have to contact the owner to come core the lock tonight and that it was out of her hands. I asked what would happen to my stuff if he just took the lock off at some random time during the night and was told that they'd put an office lock on it and charge me $20.00 for the lock.  Ahem.

(Mentally, I'm thinking to myself, okay, then, why didn't you just tell me to leave instead of telling me that you'd come out in a minute?) I picked up a card off of the counter and left without another word. (Now, I'll confess that I stomped from the door of the office to the door of the Yukon while muttering vile Scripture curses on her head, but I'm only human.)

After getting that out of my system, we left. I drove home, borrowed some tools, and drove the forty minutes one-way back to the unit. I used a magnet and screwdriver to get the shard of key out of the lock, then I drove to Wal-Mart to get WD40 to loosen up the rusted/damaged lock.

While I was in Wal-Mart buying the oil, That Woman called my house and spoke to my mother. This is what she said, "Ma'am? There is nothing in that lock." My mother, having absolutely no clue that any of this is happening, said, "What?" And Tha Woman (thinking she was talking to me) yelled, "I SAID, there is NOTHING in that LOCK!" Then she hung up on my Momma. She didn't even ask to speak to me and had no idea who even answered the phone. (I was blissfully ignorant of this exchange.)

While I was waiting in the storage hallway for a few minutes to let the oil do its thing, That Woman came out and told me that if I broke the lock off she would call the police. I just nodded and kept on working without saying anything (not knowing at that moment that she'd been rude to my Momma, otherwise I'd have gone Old Testament right there in that storage locker hallway). Then I put MY key, into MY lock, and opened the unit, where I removed everything I could carry. I went back into the office and showed the woman the lock and the keys (both unbroken) and said that I'd be back before Monday to collect the things that I couldn't carry by myself. She never even looked up.

I walked out to the porch and stopped for a long moment. I thought about the two units in that building that were full and the roughly 18 that were empty in the hallway. I thought about the building next door to the one I rented from which was entirely empty. I took in a deep breath, then turned around and went back in, and this is a fairly close approximation to the speech I gave her.

"Um, ma'am?" (no verbal response, no facial expression, she just looked up)

"Okay, well, see, what I want to tell you is that I worked in customer service for a very long time, and I hated it by the way, because the one thing that I know for certain is that you shouldn't fire the customer, and I constantly wanted to fire the customers for irritating me, which is why I left that sort of work. I was just irritated in general every single day.

I'm telling you this, because when I leave here, I'm going to tell everyone at my church and everyone on my Facebook and everyone that I see tonight at VBS in my community about this experience in this business. So are the boys who were here with me and saw your behavior today. I just thought that you should know for future reference, that the reason for all my discontent boils down to one thing: your attitude and your overall unconcern for me and my problem.

If at any point during this process you had been mildly sympathetic or understanding or kind spoken, this encounter would have gone much differently. I didn't come in here angry. I just had a problem and I needed your help. I haven't raised my voice or cursed or demanded anything or even been irritated with you. I would have appreciated the same courtesy.

Oh, and I want to give you a head's up that once I calm down, I'm calling The Man (as in the owner since I sort of know him), and probably following up with a blog and a letter. I think you should seriously consider finding a different job that doesn't require working with the public.

Please be sure that my account isn't charged for the unit in July. Thank you."

And then I left, the little doorbell ringy dinging my exit music. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be nice. (And I'm eternally grateful that she didn't shoot me in the back through that big picture window.) I wonder what kind of service I'd have gotten if I let Sister out of the bag and went all Karate Kid Crane Pose on her. It's an interesting question. Next time, if the sales person is rude to me first, I think I'll find out.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

It's a crying shame that in order to get the kindness and courtesy that you should have gotten in the first place, you probably SHOULD have gone Old Testament on her...instead of trying to deal with the situation rationally and decently. This is me...shaking my head.