Killing the Messenger


Marketing gurus will tell you that customer service is a product. And if you really think about it, they are absolutely right. A slow or sassy waitress has just as much potential to disappoint as the side of runny eggs she is serving up. Lucky for her I’m the benefit of the doubt type–the ‘don’t kill the messenger type’. This of course doesn’t excuse the fact that I am the talk about you when you leave the table type or the shove the eggs between some toast type. So, as a lady does, I held my tongue and smiled. Because what that slow and sassy waitress fails to acknowledge is that I am frequently the poor tipping type too.

So yeah, I’m kind of a jerk and I’m betting karma will come back to bite me one day. But I’m pretty sure it had already shown up as my side of runny eggs that may or may not have been runny because the waitress spit in them. For that, a small, part of me feels like poor service should hold some sort of consequence. I’m of course too sensitive to the fact that the waitress’ bad mood might’ve been caused by a poor tip before me, so I don’t address her directly. A bad tip is like a gracious hint. It’s a quick “get it together” in dollar form.

Shallow and vindictive as that may seem, calling her out on the spot seems more harsh. My complaints are most often taken care of by my dining company. Everyone has that one friend who is willing to be outspokenly rude in order to get a complementary dessert. Fortunately for me and my free dessert that friend is always my roommate.

I spend half of our dining experiences ducking my head when she sends food back and overcompensating when she leaves a lower tip than I’ve ever left for a runny egged waitress. Nevertheless, the dessert comes and I sit contemplating which is better of both approaches. Do I suffer quietly at the expense of looking high maintenance or grow a pair and request the soufflé.


Multiple times my roomie has rightfully claimed her spot in a grocery line, snatched a discount because “a button was missing” on a new sweater, and reaped the benefits of the promise all businesses originally pledge to a customer: that they walk away happy with their purchase.  Of course those same marketers would agree that she may not be invited back for the next sale. But for that day, she is the winner.

I’m just jealous because I paid full price for a scuffed pair of boots.

Perhaps the ones most consider to be high maintenance are really the people with enough courage to appear so. If karma works the way I believe it does, those brave enough to call someone out for runny eggs deserves some sort of treat. Life sends out “get it together” hints. But sometimes it sends out “you’ve got it together” hints as well. For that, I continue to duck but am secretly thankful I get to sip from the free bottle of wine she just scored the table on account of a thirty minute wait time.

Anyone who can take two bites out of a block of cheese and still be reimbursed at the grocery store deserves a free drink at some point it their life. It’s a skill, really. The only problem, aside from my temporary embarrassment, is the fact that I posses no such skill. I’m still getting the “get it together” hints from life and eating runny eggs.

Fortunately, catching on has always been in my nature. I can take a hint; sometimes it just takes more than one to get through to me. Last weekend, I got the hint…so did Cherie who works for citibike.

I had citibiked twice before. The first time I got hit by a car. The second time, I hit a car (it was parked, if that even matters?). The third time I got a flat tire on Fifth Avenue.

Digging deep into my recollection, I can’t remember ever dialing a 1-800 number with the intention of bitching about poor service. I just flick 16-wheelers off like the rest of society before calling to comment of the driver’s failure to stay inside the traffic lines.

Only that day, I did.

I’ll admit the idea to coast down Fifth Avenue at noon on a Saturday may not have been the best route to Central Park. I may have picked a quieter street had I known karma chose then to cash in its chips. It came in the form of a construction tack. As imagined, it popped my tire with a slow and whooshing breath of air while my roomie pedaled by with ease.

For those who’ve tried to drive on through a flat, you know. I had to pedal twice as hard and twice as fast just to keep that god forsaken bike moving. My third time on a citibike was beginning to show promise of topping my first two near death experiences.


The best part about these publicly rented bikes: you have to get from port to port within 30 minutes. It’s funny because when you rent a bike the little machine warns you to yield to cars in pedestrians (a caution I chose to ignore now and any other time had rented a bike) but what they don’t tell you is that the second it prints your bike code out you’re one the clock. A casual ride to the park is suddenly a combination between the Tour de France and Frogger. The worst part: when you die there is no coin slot for a second game.

Finally, after a few excruciating blocks we came to a port where I divorced my citibike. I slammed it into the port and reached for my phone. With little surprise as to what the other side of what all 800 numbers sound like, I waited for 20 minutes until Cherie answered.

In the calmest tone I could muster I explained my latest citibike experience and requested a refund for the overtime I had spend sweating my way to the port where I had left my deflated tire. Without any medal or high score I had finished the race well over the 30 minute limit. To citibike, this means they get to collect an additional four dollars for my lateness.

I waited for a pity giggle on the other end of the line after assuring her I wasn’t trying to kill the messenger. However, the best Cherie could give me was a refund for the excess time the flat had cost me. In retrospect the scene was one to laugh about and undecidedly my own fault.

I settled for a refund and hung up.

I had been high maintenance, a bit brash and was undoubtedly the low point of Cherie’s day. With achy legs, I feebly trudging to the park remorseful of the hint I had left Cherie. But I couldn’t help but be a little proud of myself and my four dollar dessert.