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Multitasking mania: From dealing with grumpy customers to keeping their stocks in check, customer service providers’ multitasking games are point. Art by Bernard Gatus

There are a few awful things I really hate about society. I hate it when people don’t check and hold the door for those behind them. I hate how no one seems to understand that they should head to the back of the elevator to make room for others. And maybe above all, I hate how most people treat the customer service industry.

It’s three in the afternoon on a Sunday at Fully Booked in BGC. It’s the most hectic day in the staff’s week as families head to its flagship store to spend more than just their money. Kids are running around everywhere, dads are looking at the latest Stephen King novel; couples flip through Fifty Shades or Murakami.

Then a teenager just drops his bag on the customer service desk. He doesn’t say a word, not even a “Thank you” as his bag is taken and put on a shelf for safekeeping. He leaves as if there weren’t anyone who had just helped him.

The customer service team of Fully Booked that Sunday, comprised of Maj, Eli and Yolly, had to assist shoppers, keep their bags, get book requests, fix and roll up posters, reserve novels, check the status of books, tell people they don’t sell batteries or Alex Gonzaga books, get more bags, file requests, update their order reservations, and a whole lot more… all of which happened in the first hour I was there as I spent a couple of hours observing the team and all they had to go through. I was a fly on the wall, discovering a profession that doesn’t get the proper attention.

I’d occasionally ask them how they were and, unlike some customers, they had no complaints whatsoever. They’d laugh it off, say it’s all part of the job, and then get back to the good work they do. No hidden messages, no sarcasm, and no anger beneath their words as they kept helping the people.

“This is discrimination,” said a customer who was “insulted” that his gym bag had been checked by one of the guards at the door. He rushed up to the customer service booth and passive-aggressively made his unwarranted case. It didn’t matter that he probably never heard of random spot checks before or maybe the fact that the customer service team was completely different from Fully Booked’s hired store security. He ranted and ranted and ranted, then left feeling like he was the winner of that debate, as if he were vindicated. Spoiler alert: he wasn’t.

Not long afterward I asked the staff about the “drama” that had just occurred. As rude as he was, the staff says that that was pretty warm and mellow compared to past experiences. There have been harsher times with customers and one instance in particular had a foreign customer calling one of them an “Indio.” It was an insult, plain and simple, and should warrant not only deportation but a good kick in the balls, too for resorting to unwarranted racial slurs. Any one of us would have easily had our way when we’re thrown such an insult but the staffer didn’t take it to heart and just smiled it off.

As I listened to their stories, I couldn’t help but remember the last time I screamed at my driver several years ago. The guilt still feels fresh every time I think about it. The fact that despite being 14 I had the gall to shout and bitch at a much older person is enough to be disowned. While I’d like to think I’ve grown up since then, the experience still reminds me to always be better.

There are a few things I hate about society but they can all be fixed. Sometimes it all just starts with an ounce of gratitude. Even just at home, it’s not that hard to always be considerate of the family members and home staff that help us. We’re almost too lucky we don’t have to look far for a helping hand that we often take them all for granted.

Maybe one day I’ll be more than just a fly on the wall and actually try and help the staff. I don’t think I have their strength, though. I have a temper as it is and I don’t think I’d do well helping arrogant and spoiled people get their latest issue of A**hole Quarterly. The least I — or anyone really — can do is be a little nicer to the people making our lives a little easier.

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