Thank you for contacting our customer support center, although we wish you would have followed our suggestions—27 times in the 40 minutes you were on hold—that you visit our website instead. Frankly, we’re impressed by people like you who stay on the line while we bombard you with reminders that you could hang up the phone and get all the information you need online. If we ever get into a staring contest, we want you on our team.
Let us remind you, yet again, that you could go to the Frequently Asked Questions tab on our website to obtain information about how to get to our website, the products we sell, and how to make us your home page. We cannot imagine that there was any reason for you to call our support center, if only you had scoured all 2,788 pages of our newly revised, more user-friendly online presence.
But you didn’t do that, did you? No, you called customer support and spoke with Agnes, so now we need to follow up and find out how well she met your needs, which are very important to us and certainly could have been met if you had gone to our website.
Please note that Agnes might have pleaded with you to give her a 10 rating in every category, if we should happen to ask. She might have wept a bit, as well, suggesting to you that she would be fired on the spot if you gave her anything less than a 10 on anything.
You might have thought she was exaggerating. She wasn’t. We demand perfection in our organization and we expect people like Agnes to deliver that perfection 120% of the time.
Agnes is the sole support of her mother, aunt, and three children, and she needs to work three jobs to make ends meet, because we contracted for her through an outsourced staffing firm that provides no benefits. But don’t let that sway you in your assessment of her performance when you called (instead of visiting our website). Please answer the following questions to let us know what you think of Agnes:
Thanks for your responses to our survey. We appreciate your business and look forward to engaging with you in the future.
But only contact us on our website, not by phone. Agnes’s replacement can’t handle the pressure.
Thank God the pressure is finally off and I can return to normal life. I’ve lost the lottery again.
We probably could have predicted this, and not simply because my odds of winning were roughly one in 250 bazillion. I live in Chicago and winners never buy their tickets in a big city. It’s always someplace like Escape, Arkansas or Ignore, Idaho, never Manhattan or Los Angeles or Boston or Miami. Or Chicago.
But a potential jackpot of $1.6 billion (slightly more than I earn in a week) beckoned and the guy behind the counter at the Qwik-E-Mart promised to sell me the winning ticket, so I took a shot. Almost immediately, my life fell apart. My days were consumed with research about tax rates and the relative benefits of Swiss banks versus gigantic cookie jars. At night, I’d mourn the death of my favorite excuse—“We can’t afford it,”—and dread the IOUs I’d written against that phrase.
My future looked even worse. After I won, which lawyer would I call to set up the LLC? I know a ton of lawyers, mostly a bunch of average Joes who couldn’t get a job after college, so they went to a graduate school that lets them call themselves esquires. I was guaranteed to sadden at least 40 of them and at least as many accountants, who are already sad because they don’t get to call themselves something cool like ESQUIRE. Of course, I could send each of them a million bucks to ease the pain, but it’s the principle of the thing.
Then I had to wrestle with the challenge of sharing with my family and friends, plus guys I met on the bus who would be expecting the new car I promised if/when I won the jackpot. I don’t remember who most of those people are, but I’ll bet they’d remember me after learning I was the big winner.
And whatever amount I give them wouldn’t be enough, cuz they’re all greedy, moneygrubbing, spoiled, avaricious parasites who will never be satisfied until they bleed me dry. Oh, did I say that out loud? Oops.
Everything in my life would change with that kind of money. I’d need to dump all my loser friends and find a much better class of people to alienate. I’d still be short and asthmatic, and my personality would be, um, an acquired taste, but an increasingly large number of people would somehow find a way to overlook those chasms. Money might not buy happiness, but it buys tons of toleration.
Hamburgers with fries would become a thing of the past as I switched to steak tartare with pomme frites. Of course, I wouldn’t have to buy any of my meals, because lawyers, accountants, stock brokers, real estate agents…pretty much everyone would be anxious to show me a good time.
With all those free meals, I’d regain all the weight I’ve lost from working with my trainer for the past couple of years, but that’s not a problem for the grotesquely wealthy. I’d just hire some guy with 6% body fat to do my workouts for me. Finally, with enough money, I would learn how to delegate.
I’d need to learn new skills, like complaining about the taxes I owe on money I didn’t earn, and keeping a straight face when I tell people I really miss the simpler time when I had to make do without a Lamborghini. (Sorry, two Lamborghinis, because one is always in the shop.)
And we’d need to move, of course, because the condo board would get so many complaints about the paparazzi they’d insist we vacate the building. I was thinking of settling down in some rural spot in South Carolina, but it looks like that’s where the winning ticket was sold. After getting such a big break by avoiding the jackpot this week, I’d hate to press my luck where people actually win this thing.
Workplace productivity made simple, the meaning of a business license, and the tell-tale signs a business won’t exceed your expectations, among the incredibly brilliant insights you cannot find anywhere else in the universe this week….
My fame is global and my reputation is impeccable, if my inbox is any indicator. Each day, lonely women plead with me to meet them and make their lives complete. Former ministers of distant lands beg for my aid in reconnecting them to their fortunes. Brokers offer me unique investment opportunities guaranteed to deliver 100,000,000,000,000% returns.
And drugs. All kinds of drugs. Drugs for arthritis, ear warts, toe cancer, knuckle nodules, and the always popular erectile dysfunction. It's amazing that Walgreens is still in business when all this top-quality product is available for nearly $zero on the internet.
And every time I read one of these e-mails, the same question comes to mind. Who ARE these people? I’m not asking about the people sending the e-mails. I’m talking about the idiots who respond to this stuff.
All this spam would disappear if it didn't make money for someone. Which means, of course, that somebody just got a message with the headline, "Hapy Birtday from a Freind," and opened the email to find an offer for low-cost V*I*A*G*A*R*A*. And this same somebody said to himself:
"Hah, look at that. It's not a birthday card after all. They tricked me into looking at this ad for medicines they can't even spell......But, wow, look at those prices. Where's my Visa????"
Before there was an internet, I received 2-3 handwritten letters each year, on onionskin paper, via international air mail, with a return address of.....yep, Nigeria. The sender was the former minister of mining or a widow whose husband was killed by an evil cabal or...didn't matter, really. They were all the same.
They were desperate to reclaim their lost fortunes and, of all the millions of people in the United States, I was the one they were counting on to rescue them. If only I would show them I was truly trutwothy, sinsere and finacialy reponsible. It was quite a burden for me to shoulder, but that's why they knew I was the only one for the job.
"I am the former mining director/ exiled president/secretary of the ministry/Yasser Arafat’s widow (really) and I must call upon you in a mater of grate urgency and discreetion...."
Ah, classic literature. Decades go by, but the text is eternal, along with the misspellings. Are the misspellings a part of the plan, placed intentionally to seem more sincere? Perhaps they want to target people who see the errors and assume the senders are not very bright, or maybe they’re targeting people who won’t catch the typos at all.
So who is it that thinks Yasser Arafat's widow is really searching the globe and landing on them? Yeah, Columbus made a wrong turn, too, but let's get real. If this had ever happened, ever, we would have heard about it by now.
As it is, I’ve never even heard an urban myth about it. You know, the urban myth where a friend of a friend of mine has a $50 million house he bought with his share of the Nigerian gold mine money. Most urban myths concern events that never really happened. If there isn’t even an urban myth, then it really, really never happened.
And yet, the emails keep pouring in to my spam folder. Somebody must be responding to these scams, but who are these idiots?
(P.S.: If you’re reading this and you have actually fallen for one of these come-ons, I apologize for calling you an idiot. I would like to make it up to you by letting you in on a unique investment opportunity designed specifically for you. It's guaranteed to deliver 100,000,000,000,000% on your money, as soon as we can get it out of Azkaban.)
Why a $5 bottle of water is worth it, the new biggest lie in business, and a fail-safe trick for turning your book into a best seller, among other tidbits for the week ahead…
I almost killed a guy the other day. It made me very happy.
Emphasis on the word almost, of course. I didn’t kill him, even though I started driving just as he was coming up on my right side while I was looking left. Any time you come close to a major problem and you miss it by inches, it’s a good day.
I’m trying to pay more attention to these good days, the near-misses that bounce into my win column, because it’s a great way to get more enjoyment out of life. If I got to the pharmacy two minutes after they closed and nobody would open the door to give me my prescription, I’d be talking about it for days. If I got caught in traffic and missed my flight and I couldn’t get a refund on the ticket or the hotel room, I’d be complaining for weeks. But, if I had the chance to kill a person and I didn’t take it? Crickets.
People write, and read, all kinds of guides to happiness—how to find it, how to nurture it, how to maintain it—but there’s no mystery to this stuff. Happiness comes from feeling fortunate and feeling fortunate comes from a lack of entitlement. Nobody owes me anything, God isn’t required to save me from killing pedestrians, and I don’t get any mulligans when I screw up. When something goes well, it’s a gift, whether I worked hard for it or it flew through an open window.
This happiness thing turns out to be ridiculously easy, so easy that I thought, at first, there must be something huge I was missing. Turns out, though, it’s a WYSIWYG. In business, everyone talks about making customers happy by exceeding their expectations, but there are two parts to that equation. The first part is the expectations themselves. The lower they are, the easier it is to blow right past them.
This isn’t a game of pretending to enjoy it when you fall into a manure pit or thinking it’s great to be fired. Crap is crap, sometimes literally. But you don’t have to enjoy a situation in order to feel fortunate that it didn’t turn out worse. And you don’t need to be Pollyanna to recognize when little things are going your way.
Things do go our way almost all the time, every day. Starting with the moment we open our eyes in the morning, take a shower with hot water, brew a cup of coffee, etc. etc. etc., the list of wins is almost endless. Recognizing and appreciating those wins in real time is the key to a happy life.
As I look back on it, my clock has reset to zero at least eight or ten times. I was hit by a truck while in high school, but relatively little of my brain ended up on the street. Art Drake probably saved my life in college when he stopped me from cutting some live electrical wires with a pair of scissors. I don’t remember exactly if it was Kirk James or Dwight Grimestad who stopped me from walking into traffic while on my phone in New York, but it was one of them and I am grateful to both.
The list goes on. There was the time I suddenly realized I was walking less than a foot from the edge of the Grand Canyon, the day I fell asleep at the wheel on the Kennedy, the morning a semi drove through my Dodge Dart… I follow Cheating Death on Instagram but, now that I think about it, maybe they should be following me.
After I didn’t kill the guy on the bicycle, the rest of my morning was more upbeat than it had been before I drove out of the garage. I hope the cyclist enjoyed his day as much as I did.