At one time in life I had a customer relations job in the flooring industry. I had to go to jobs where customers had some issues with products or the installations of them. My responsibility’s were to control the cost on clams for the company. But at the same times, I had to apply good customer relations in order to solve their problems. Oh what the hell. I was in between the rock and the hard place all the time, every day, all day long. Seemed like everyone was pissed-off and it was, my job to calm them all down. A successful day was like, controlling the costs for the company, not allowing myself to get into a pissing contest with the costumers, all the while never forgetting my principles, of never getting to a point of excusing myself, by allowing a lie to slip out to the people in order to resolve the situations.
On this day I had to investigate a hardwood job. The question was. Why did they have little dimples in the wood? Did the costumer create these marks, or was there some defect in product? I will tell you first hand that most of the time it is the costumers use, and abuse of the flooring, in ways that it was not intended for these products that they had purchased and installed. Not that it is the costumers fault in picking a less durable product, but more of an industry thing of pushing the product where they get the biggest kick back from the manufacture. Just for selling a certain amount of the product in a year. I always try to bring some humor to the job with in these meetings, just to lighten things up a bit. The stress is too much to take at times. The costumer think they are just sold to, or they have been sold a defective product at a premium price as a way of the flooring company to maximise their profits. Most of the time they belive that their concerns are over looked under valued, once the check has cleared the bank.The company thinks people are out to get some thing for nothing, or at least trying to get out of paying for the up grades to the homes they have worked in, on costumers behalf. I’m both the villan and the hero depending on what side of the coin your on for the day. Tag! Your stresses!
I rang the door bell, stepping back just a bit and prepared myself to jump into some unknown black whole of customer service. Brushed my hair back with my free hand, first one side then shifting my reports papers and work notes to the other hand, and repeated the brush back. The door knob began to turn and my stage was set. Get ready to go! Now we are off. I told myself quickly.
” Hi. Mr. Smith, I’m Ted, from the flooring company. Here is my card, and we are here to see about your wood flooring I understand? I said as extending my hand for the traditional hand shake and greeting.
” Yes you are. Come on in, and I will let you examine the problem as we see it.” He said. Mr. Smith had a good firm grip for a hand shake. Then he waved me into his home with a swoop of a hand, moving like a bull fighter would, as the bull would narrowly pass by.
” Just over here.” Mr Smith quickly moved passed my cautious and slow-moving self as we passed down the short hallway. ” You can see there, a lot of these little marks just in the hallway and in front of the kitchen island in front of the stove, and by the back slider just over there.” Mr. Smith was showing me and pointing at each place that there were little marks. These were just light indents in the wood. But with these dark kinds of woods, along with the lighting that we had just at this time of day, it made it harder for me to see them. Because they were living with them all the time, good or bad lighting, Mr. Smith was fully aware of them. They probably looked like to him at least as big as speed bumps in size.
“Could we turn off the lights and open the window coverings please?” I requested, all the while I continued to examine the marks. I could see these marks looked like half moons, with light impressions into the wood. Because this wood flooring could withstand 1000 LB plus of pressure per square inch before leaving an indent. I know that more than likely this was customer abuse of some sort. But just what? Did these people have a thing for hammering the floor with a very small hammers? Or was it the dreaded kids? The one thing that can make these kinds of marks. Yet the only thing that a person in my position could never mention!
Contemplating the answer to my mystery. Mr. Smiths wife came down the stairs in a big hurry. I heard the clicking of high heals shoes on the wood floors, it caused me to take a quick look. Noticing that she had a habit of placing her heel down first, then following with the base of her shoe. I was transfixed looking at her walking motion, and the possibility of the action of the heals on the wood.
Mr. Smith tried to get my attention by saying. ” So in your professional opinion just what could be wrong with this floor?” Maybe he noticed my watching of his wife walking. Oh! Crap! Was he thinking I was checking her out?
Thinking just what to say, all to explain to him along with some humor, as just what was going on with this project. I Grabbed an old riddle from my memory that a math teacher from high school had once said. Turning to him with a smile on my face. Deciding then to go with it.
” I had this math teacher in high school that challenged us to answer a riddle. It is much the same thing that we have going on right here, right now with your floor.” Making a motion towards the floor and these marks in it. I saw that I had his attention and interested. Mr. Smith moved over a bit, slightly closer to me.
“You see these marks are somewhat the same mystery as my teachers riddle. The riddle was, Can a 120 lb lady apply the same, or more force to something than a 3000 lb elephant?” Having smile on my face when I said this to him. But when I glanced back at him, he was not all that amused at the riddle. He was probably thinking just what the hell! My wife doesn’t have the same weight as a 3000 lb elephant! Loosing some patience with the flooring inspection or my attempt to explain it. Mr. Smith became somewhat restless.
” Well, when you have a better idea as to what this is, have your office call me. I have to get to work right now. So if you don’t mind…” He was leading me to the door. So just like that I followed him. Is he pissed off at me? For checking out his woman? But I wasn’t looking at her in a lustful way. I just noticed that….
“I’ll put it in my report anyway. as to what I have seen so far.” Saying to Mr. Smith all the while following him.
” Sure thing that is! I will get this report back to the office and they will get back to you with a plan of action.” I said as we got to the door, then extending my hand to Mr. Smith looking for a hand shake. But Mr. Smith just agreed and slowly closed the door, once I cleared it.
” Have a great day!” I added. As the door slowly closed.
As I walked into the office with my report notes in hand, I noticed that Bill was on the phone and looked very seriously. His office window made him look like an animal in the zoo. With him being over weight there should have been a sign that said ” Don’t feed the animals!” Bill was my boss, nice guy, but he couldn’t handle stress without yelling at his employees. I thought the best way to handle this was to look like I enjoyed this kind of treatment. But all the while I also stood my ground, strong and firm!
“Tim! Get your butt in here!” Bill yelled out of the doorway of his office. The whole room full of people looked his way, then my way. I was thinking just what the hell now? Didn’t he know I just got back into the office?The rest of the room of people thought I’m glad that its him! Waving, to let him know that I heard him. Then placing my reports on the desk, Then moving along to the Bill’s office. Just now the office window may have looked like a movie screen, and the show was about to start, for everyone else.
Bill slammed the phone down hard. “These crazy SOB’s!” he muttered to himself as I opened the door and walked in. The tension was thick. Knowing this I closed the door. I don’t close doors untill Bill tells me too, on most days. But today he didn’t need to said. ” Come in here, and sit your ass down!” Bill motioned to the chair. Moving to the chair I sat down slowly.
“I just got off the phone with Mr. Smith. Who is not to happy with you! He chewed my but for the last 1/4 hour. What were you thinking? Telling him that his wife is as big as an elephant! Are you crazy? Bills face was starting to change color.
I sat there with a big smile on my face. I’m sure this pissed Bill off even more. But my plan was the same. Sit there and act like I enjoyed it! Wait till he was finished, then wing it! Nothing! Just nothing was going through my mind as of yet as how to react. But then it’s my turn.
” Well Bill! First I didn’t call his wife an elephant! She is quite small. But that’s the point with this problem!” Bill sat quiet waiting for my explanation to be finished. But for how long? Good intentions while being pissed off never works out well together.
” You must have! He wouldn’t call and tell me this for fun. You lie!” He was leaning over the desk and pointing his finger at me. ” Your fired! I want those reports on my desk right after your shift is over.”
Shaking my head in agreement, and not forgetting to have the biggest smile on, I slowly got up from the chair and walked over to the door. Turned to Bill and said as I opened it.
” So why should I finish my day if I’m fired?”
I walked out of his office and over to my desk where the incompleted reports were. grabbing them up, then turning towards Bill’s office once again. I could hear the thoughts of the rest of the office. ” Don’t do it man! Is he going to go postal? Are you a gluten for punishment? But I was on a mission. Pissed off myself now, but a smiling kind of pissed off. I stormed into the office once again.
“Well Bill hear is your reports! Incompleted of course! Oh! Ya! You fired me, just what are you thinking, and why should I finish them for you now? Should have thought about that before you did what you did?” I fired a rapid fire semi automatic style of questions and statements at him. “You know, looking at this problem you have? Your about to lose a but load of money on this one! But then you were never a customer service kind of guy!” I turned and started to leve.
” How would you then….? Okay smart guy, just how would you handle it?” Bill never had this kind of confrontational before. He sounded like half yelling and mostly desperate, for a better solution.
Letting out a kind of small laugh at him. ” Maybe you should have thought about that before hand. Just saying. Enjoy yourself! I’m going to a better job now!” It was the smiling that was making him madder. But he had to use some self-control because he didn’t need mass resignations from the rest of his employees.
“Well you could show some professionalism and finish what you started!” He said. Yes the desperation ran deep, to have him call me out like that.
Being in the middle of the office and with in somewhat of an ear shot of everyone, employees, and one customer alike. I responded . ” Can a 120 lb lady apply more force to something than a 3000 lb elephant? If so, how and why? If you feel like a hero answer the riddle and save some money, that’s the answer to your problems. This riddle! It’s in the answer of it, and that’s what I said to Mr. Smith by the way!” Turning back around, I left the building.
I ran into Bill some 5 years later. Oh, he remembered me! But failed to answer the riddle. During some small talk, it finely happened. Curiosity took over that is. After all he has been asking this question to himself for years now.
” Bill you funny man! You fired me, remember?” I laughed, as I slapped my hand over his shoulder. ” You lost money on that one!” Bill was beginning to squirm a bit. I enjoyed this a lot! Maybe too much! It was like fishing, and Bill was on the line. But he yelled at me in front of his other employees, I thought. So why should he have the answer even now?
“Yes I lost money. Is this what this taunting is all about?”
“No! Not at all. I’m enjoying this too much I guess? You have to admit it is funny looking back at it, you know?”
“I think your right. I replaced that floor twice in all. Just what was the problem? Have asked that question to myself over the years to no avail, and with no explanation for it!”
I loved hearing this, he was beaten and out smarted. Powerless to even muster a yelling attitude for the answer. Yet just a shell of a man who knows he was beaten, by someone he considered to be beneath him. Yet I felt sorry for him.
“You should have gotten the full story first, yelling never gets you any where.”
“You know your right! I’m sorry for that! I mean it. I lost big money and my job as well on that one. If I could I would buy you a drink, but I have to run. It was nice to run into you. Take care of your self.” Bill returned the slap of his hand over my shoulder and started to walk away. “I’ll see you around some time. You know some people have the habit of sticking with you. Your it for me! See ya!”
Bill acted like the answer would have been nice to hear. But was at peace with himself, or so it seemed. Prehaps some what tormented in a small way not knowing the answer. But still looking for it. He was in this way a changed man. Age along with the changing times, tend to mellow a person out.
“Bill!” I called out.
He turned around. He now had a smile on his face. It was the first time he or I noticed that we are more the same then different.
Bill cheers to you over the years. And to friendship! Remembering just who your friends are can save you some real money, but can also give you some good memories.
All the best!
( Stiletto heels can place the womans total weight onto a point about 1/8 of an inch. So on a square inch bases 120 lb’s becomes more than 3000 lb’s per square inch of pressure on the wood floor. That is! Also Elephants cannot ware high heel shoes! ) Cheers!