When you work in the customer-service or retail industries your patience, serenity and good humor are brought into question more often than Amanda Bynes' sobriety. [I'll let the brilliant timeliness of that sink in for a few ... >pause< ... has it sunk in yet?]
Despite the fact that by and far the most prevalent customers you deal with on a daily basis are apathetic at best - neither truly offal [hehe - I crack myself up sometimes] nor wonderful - it is the complete asshat f#@ktards who stand out in your memory. Think about it ... that sweet older lady who said you reminded her of her granddaughter with your cute pixie cut made you smile? Or that exhausted businessman who said you made his day when you were able to snag him an unavailable room at an over-packed hotel gave you warm fuzzies? No, it's the jackass who told you to go f#@k yourself because your coupon-rate was "still too f#@king high" who will dominate your memory of the day.
And that? Is not cool.
It's completely unfair.
And I? Am happy to share with you a few of my hints and tips for taking the sting out of it. [Without going so far as to suggest actions which would land you in a libel-suit or arrested for jamming bananas up ungrateful asshats tailpipes whilst backing away into shadows flipping the bird ala Bitch Pudding.]
"Bless Your Heart"
This classic Southern aphorism is a tried-and-true method to passive-aggressively toss a snarky remark at someone while making it seem like an almost compliment (or at least a 'not your fault'). If done correctly, you deliver the stinging barb with such accurate timing and saccharine sweetness that not only does the dickwaffle not realize he's been insulted, but he wonders if it may be a compliment.
"It's my pleasure"
... to help brain-dead asshats like yourself who seem to think the world revolves around you [however, you leave that last part unspoken]. Whenever you have a particularly grating customer-service situation, simply inserting this one-liner into the conversation will both possibly diffuse the custy's inherently piss-poor mood and give you brownie points (especially if they're Chik-Fil-A patrons with any regularity). [However, you lose all brownie points and go back to start when you do this with gritted teeth and a barely-contained snarl on your lips.]
"Have a Good Morning/Night/Afternoon"
Nothing helps deflate an asshat custy quite like the perfectly delivered [with an unironical smile] 'Have a good morning/afternoon/night' as they wind down a "F#@k you and everything about your establishment" rant. Again, this only works when you smile sweetly and innocuously - do not show teeth. To boost the effecti
effectiveness of this, I've found it helps to tilt your head in a sympathetic and humble angle while delivering your best Dolores Umbridge impersonation.
Lifetime Movie it
When in doubt, act it out ... in your head. Re-cast the 'situation-giving-you-just-shy-of-ulcer-stress' as if it were a Tori Spelling, Catherine Bell or Nicholle Tom movie-of-the-week on 90's Lifetime (television for women and gay men). Imagine that puffed-out loud-mouth with teased and larger-than-a-labradoodle fried hair, lip-liner in brown-tones, 'nude' eyeshadow and shoulder-pads the size of airport runways and your stress? Will suddenly be passe faster than Caroline in the City.
Accents. Accents. Accents
I cannot stress how much fun it is to slip on an accent and use it as a shield between you and the insane people who populate our customer service industry - whether it is a foul-mouthed custy or dictatorial manager, hiding behind your best Scarlett O'Hara impression or Harry Potter affectation will give you a laugh while they scowl their nasty little hearts out. [WARNING: despite its ease, do not try and use the classic Cockney English accent - you'll just sound like you're auditioning for a local dinner theatre's production of My Fair Lady.]
Go home and read 1) Retail Hell 2) RetailHellUnderground.com or 3) Retail Hell short story collections ... or a combination thereof
I know, I know - completely self-serving, but there you go. The website is a great source of commiserating stories. The memoirs by Freeman Hall are riotously funny and all-too-familiar for anyone who works retail. The collections feature stories from people just like you (and, admittedly, a few of my stories as well).