"People like him love standard procedure"
September 14, 2021 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Two short scifi/fantasy stories in which customer service folks get to reward customers who treat them well, or punish those who treat them badly. Dyce writes about an isolated refueling station: "Out-of-hours fuelling requires a prior appointment." Aimee Ogden writes about a coffeeshop: "his coffee comes with a nice cantrip that'll help him send all his emails for the next week with zero typos and exactly the right number of exclamation marks."
posted by brainwane (14 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
I came across Ogden's story because it was reprinted in the anthology It Gets Even Better: Stories of Queer Possibility.
posted by brainwane at 6:52 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


as someone who just recently transitioned out of a customer support role and is finding adjustment to a much cushier, much less intensely regulated and micromanaged role kind of shocking - the shift from dealing with dozens of people with bad emotional regulation experiencing small amounts of stress to dealing with co-workers who see you as people (even though some of them are kind of assholes) is enormous - these stories were really cathartic

cross my arms, hope to die that I never ever forget how goddamn fucking rough it is to be on the service side of any industry. the people on my current team really have no idea what it's like to experience not just the grind of that kind of work but also the downstream effects it has on your mental health especially since most of the managers are banal sociopaths who really don't give a single shit about their reports' actual suffering
posted by paimapi at 7:13 AM on September 14 [11 favorites]


I liked the idea of space needing service stations. I've read a lot of sci-fi, and the question of fuel for interstellar ships is usually hand-waved away with a few words about nuclear fusion or the alien-sounding equivalent. The ship's captain in that story was in an equivalent position to someone rolling through rural Iowa or North Dakota, assuming there's fuel and food at every exit, and growing evermore anxious as exit after exit rolls by without amenities (I speak from experience)—but then finally finding one and discovering that they can be refused service.

There's a version of this story where the ship and the station end up in a stalemate of some kind, the hermity refueler continually pointing to the "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" sign and the ship slowly reducing amenities—doubling up officers who are used to their own quarters, reducing food rations—as it becomes more and more impossible for them to get anywhere else without a fuel top-up.

Wait: new version just popped into my head: the silent, dark hull of a ship that was just that bit too rude and which now orbits the refueling station as a reminder to any other ships coming in: Play Nice.
posted by Orlop at 7:24 AM on September 14 [13 favorites]


When you're on a red-eye transatlantic flight, you know where you don't want to sit? The two center seats in the back (non-reclining) row. When you're the gate agent trying to reticket an entire plane, and almost everyone's polite, but two large young men start yelling obscenities, the decision about who to stick in those seats becomes very simple.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:55 AM on September 14 [11 favorites]


Dyce has two other stories in which retail employees either punish or reward customers: Welcome To Evil-Mart and Have An Evil Day.
posted by RichardP at 8:06 AM on September 14 [7 favorites]


One of my first jobs in high school was at a pharmacy where the pharmacist was like the toughest, smartest, most pissed off guy I had ever met, who taught me that customer service people can and will punish you for being rude which I have never forgotten.
posted by bleep at 8:54 AM on September 14


There's a version of this story where the ship and the station end up in a stalemate of some kind, the hermity refueler continually pointing to the "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" sign and the ship slowly reducing amenities—doubling up officers who are used to their own quarters, reducing food rations—as it becomes more and more impossible for them to get anywhere else without a fuel top-up.

Idea for a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reboot: the station becomes sentient and a character, and is just cranky as all petaQ because it wasn't designed for this crap.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:25 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


Wow, those were fantastic! Thanks for sharing :)
posted by katecholamine at 9:28 AM on September 14


Idea for a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reboot: the station becomes sentient and a character, and is just cranky as all petaQ because it wasn't designed for this crap.

A.R.T.!! I would to see A.R.T. deal with arrogant, entitled corporate officers who… threaten its’ service station crew.
posted by Silvery Fish at 1:32 PM on September 14 [10 favorites]


I love Dyce's retail worker fantasies.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:37 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


Brain the size of a planetesimal, and a terrible pain in all the diodes down my left-hand side…
posted by clew at 6:24 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Your posts, brainwane, are just the right dose of fiction for sleep deprived, busy mum me. Thank you!
posted by freethefeet at 8:25 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


I love the tales of Evil-Mart!
posted by sotonohito at 6:50 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]


brainwane made a post that included the Evil-Mart stories recently; the comments are still open.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:29 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


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