A letter to John Q. Public

Dear John Q. Public,

I can’t help but notice how rude you are to customer service people. I get it. You want what you want and you want it now and that person isn’t giving you what you want, but perhaps I can persuade you to treat others a bit more gently. First of all, you’re not entitled. You have to work for and earn everything you get just like everybody else. I’m sorry your mommy told you that you’re a special little snowflake but really you’re just like every other snowflake and this world is a blizzard. Second, that person on the phone or behind the counter that you’re treating like dirt is a human being, not the embodiment of whatever business or entity you’re currently pissed off with. I would also point out that he/she is not in fact dirt. He/she is a person with a job to do just like you and me.

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Think about how you would feel if someone came to your place of employment or dwelling and treated you that way. Would you like it? Of course not! If you asked that person on the phone or behind the counter, I’m sure he/she would tell you that he/she really doesn’t want to hear your abuse. I know because I’ve been the person both on the phone and behind the counter. Also spoiler alert! I don’t care what the customer service person did or said to you. You are an adult and you are responsible for your own actions. As such you have the capacity to act appropriately regardless of how others may act toward you. I suggest you use it. Screaming, yelling, ranting, raving, or verbally abusing someone is not an appropriate way to act. However don’t do it so you can get on some moral high horse and think you’re better than someone else. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Otherwise I may tell you where to go and what to do with the moral high horse you rode in on.

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Have you ever heard the saying that you catch more flies with honey than you do with piss? Guess what! It’s true! People respond much better to someone speaking to them in a calm, kind, and rational manner than they do to someone who’s carrying on like a petulant child. If you were nicer to people you’d probably get what you want a lot more often and the people who have to deal with you would have a much better day. See? Everybody wins!

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You may not believe this, but that person on the phone or behind that counter really does want to help you. No, I’m serious he/she really does, but there’s a caveat to this. All companies have rules and guidelines that they’re required to follow for a variety of reasons. Some have to do with corporate policy while others are in place due to State or Federal regulations that must be followed. So that person on the phone or behind the counter really isn’t giving you a hard time just because he/she wants to ruin your day. He/she would love to give you what you want and let you happily go about the rest of your day, but he/she isn’t able to do that because he/she has to follow the rules. Do you see him/her asking you to put your job on the line for him/her? I don’t think so. So why on earth do you think it’s fair for you to expect someone else to do the same for you? Now do you see how ridiculous you sound?

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Oh and please, go ahead and demand to talk to a supervisor. I dare you. I’ve been on the other end of that phone call, too. You’re going to get the same information repeated back to you by someone with a different voice and enough experience to be firm while still putting you at ease and making you understand that we really are trying to help.

Despite what you might think, no customer service job is easy and not only because of asshats like you. They also typically don’t pay well, they’re stressful, the benefits if they even offer them suck, and it sucks to smile while someone gives you a hard time. The job sucks so much that people call out constantly so there’s a pretty good chance that the person you’re mistreating was called in on his/her only day off for the week because one of his/her coworkers didn’t feel like showing up to work. He/she is probably overworked and taken for granted and needs your abuse like he/she needs a hole in his/her head.

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Next time you find yourself losing your cool in a customer service situation, stop and take a deep breath. You’re not a victim. Nobody is out to get you and the sole motivation of the person behind the counter or on the phone is to help you, not to ruin your day. You’re not entitled and poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on someone else’s. Think about two golden rules. First, do unto others as you’d have done to you. If you wouldn’t want to be mistreated, don’t mistreat someone else. The second golden rule: don’t be a dick. Giving a customer service person a hard time is a total dick move. It costs you nothing to be a decent person. Try it out! You might like it!

Signed,

Everyone who’s ever worked in customer service

A Teachable Moment

Dear Sir,

Hello! I’m the person that was standing next to you and your family at an adoption event at a pet supply store. I was volunteering with a rescue group when you stopped by to take a look at some of the adoptable dogs. You said, “All pit bulls or pit mixes. Not a single normal dog. They’re terrible dogs and they should all be shot.” I had to walk away before I unleashed my burning rage. Now that I’m calmer, I’d like to make this a teachable moment.

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Fun Fact: Helen Keller owned several pit bulls. She’s pictured here with Sir Thomas

I assure you that every single dog with the rescue is in fact a normal dog. I’ll give you that it was weird that the one pit bull barked like one of the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, but all dogs have a unique personality and their own little quirks regardless of breed. I would also like to point out that not all of the dogs at the event were pit bulls or pit mixes. The brindle dog at your 2:00 is a Mastiff and there was a Husky and also a Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix behind you. There were also some very sweet adoptable cats present.

I should explain why the majority of the dogs were either pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Pit bulls experienced a dramatic rise in popularity during the early 90s similar to the one experienced by Dalmatians after the release of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. There are also disgusting, barbaric cowards who use them for dog fighting. These things combined have led to irresponsible backyard breeding which has led to both genetic issues and a rise in the number of unwanted pets, hence the need for animal shelters and rescue organizations. The rise in the pit bull population has led to a higher probability of a pit bull or pit mix ending up in a shelter or rescue. No animal asks to end up in that situation. Humans put them in that position either through adverse circumstances or their own carelessness.

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Before dog-fighting and irresponsible breeding, pit bulls as “nanny dogs” were all the rage in the early 20th century
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Fun Fact: Petey from Our Gang was a pit bull

It’s important to remember that the term “pit bull” has no solid scientific definition. There’s actually no such breed as pit bull. It’s a designation used to describe a dog with certain physical characteristics and unknown parentage. Therefore, a pit bull could be any dog with a large and blocky head, short hair, and muscular build whose ancestors are unknown. Unfortunately, there is no Ancestry.com for dogs.

The term “pit bull” is also subjective. When rescues or shelters take a dog in with little to no knowledge of the dog’s history, they’re forced to guess the breed. As a result, what one shelter or rescue may call a pit bull or pit mix, another may call an American Bull Dog or Lab mix. Most rescues are volunteer organizations that subsist on donations, so performing costly DNA tests on every dog just isn’t possible. As a result a dog labeled as a pit bull may not even be a pit bull at all, but rather the product of a Mastiff who loved an American Bulldog.

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Fun Fact: Jon Stewart has a pit bull. My that dog is terrifying! <=Heavy sarcasm

Your claim that all pit bulls should be shot is ludicrous. You wouldn’t go around saying that all adults below the height of 5’3” should be shot. That would be crazy right? So if you wouldn’t say that a human being with certain characteristics should be culled, why would you say it about a dog with certain characteristics? It sounds to me like you might have a lot in common with a movement that lost power in Germany in the 1940s.

 

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“Look deep into you psyche. You might be a bit Third Reich-y” -Steven Lynch

If you must insist that an entire designation of dog should be killed why would you suggest something as inhumane as shooting them? The process of euthanasia involves the injection of an anesthetic so that the animal goes to sleep followed by the injection of a drug that stops their heart. If you asked a vet to shoot the animal instead, he or she may feel an inclination to shoot you for suggesting such a thing. So you see, your comment is not only ignorant but is also completely bonkers.

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Fun Fact: Rachael Ray, also a pit bull owner. Watch out, Rachael you have a vicious dog in your lap! <=More heavy sarcasm

It’s disturbing that you spouted your hate speech (let’s call a spade a spade) in front of your wife and child. I can only imagine from the defeated look on your wife’s face what she must go through with you and it disheartens me. It worried me to see your child look up to you. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what a huge responsibility you have. However I will tell you from my own experience that no one loves quite the way a daughter does. Everything you do and say will one day become the legacy you leave behind in her mind and heart, so when you choose your words consider how you want to be remembered.

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And here’s Tia Torres, pit bull rescuer & advocate, runner of Villalobos sanctuary, & certified badass with a heart of gold

I hope that you find yourself more enlightened after reading this and I want you to know that all of the anger I felt has been replaced by pity. I pity you because life seems to have hardened you to the point where you’ve lost your compassion. I’m sorry for all that happened to you and I hope you’re able to get yours back someday. Mother Theresa once said that, “People are often self-centered, irrational, and unreasonable. Forgive them anyway.” I forgive you. I also want you to know how grateful I am because you didn’t just give me something to write about, you gave me a reason to write. These animals don’t have a voice, but I do. Someone has to do the right thing and that someone is me and I will never stop. I hope you learn from my example. I’ll pray for you.

Sincerely,

One Woman with a Voice

Role-playing Nice with Polyhedral Dice

When you picture a group seated around a table playing Dungeons and Dragons, what kind of people do you see? If you’re like most people, you see a group of sweaty males sporting pocket protectors and poor social skills who live in their parents’ basement. I can tell you from my experience with role-playing games that this stereotype is exactly that; just a stereotype and one I’d like to an end to.

Look! Not one but two women in the gaming group!
Look! Not one but two women in the gaming group!
I played Cyberpunk with a group of people, yes people meaning not just guys. As a female I can tell you that we also enjoy RPGs. The members of my group all either had degrees or were in the process of completing them. The same was true of both groups that I played Dungeons and Dragons with. All of the people I played Vampire: the Masquerade and Vampire: the Requiem with had degrees and were gainfully employed. People in all of the groups I’ve played in have their own place, don’t suffer from any sort of over-perspiration disorder, and there wasn’t a single pocket protector to be found.

It may come as a surprise to some people that those of us who play roleplaying games are productive members of society. I have a friend who participated in live action roleplaying games (LARP) who serves our country in the US Navy. Wil Wheaton, an actor, blogger, and supporter of charitable causes is also an avid gamer. Vin Diesel, yes THE Vin Diesel aka the star of XXX, Fast and the Furious, Pitch Black, and Chronicles of Riddick to name a few, is also a gamer with D&D being one of his favorites and he is Groot. So if that’s the case why is there such a stigma around RPGs and the people who play them?

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Will Wheaton and Chris Hardwick
Because the media. Most people like to believe pretty much everything they see on TV, in the movies, or on the Internet. Tabletop and live action gamers have long been portrayed as socially awkward, quintessential nerds and so the stereotype was born and continues. There’s also the fact that people fear what they don’t understand. Certain outspoken ministers of various faiths condemn gaming as  nothing more than polytheism, blasphemy, and devil-worship. Because of the fantasy aspect of it, there’s also a perception that adults who play are immature or should be considered weird or socially undesirable. As a result of these negative stereotypes, many people have the wrong idea about RPGs and the people who play them.

Vin Diesel playing D&D. He is Groot
Vin Diesel playing D&D. He is Groot
Having been involved in several different gaming groups, I can assure you that absolutely no polytheism was practiced, there was no blasphemy, and no pentagrams were painted on the floor with the blood of a freshly slaughtered goat. It was just a group of people sitting around a table with pencils, paper, a layout map of the current scene in the center of the table with minis to show where each player was, some snacks, drinks, and polyhedral dice. Having been raised Catholic I can also assure you that at no point did I feel that my faith was being insulted, tested, or compromised in any way. Seriously people, it’s just a game. As for being an adult and spending time pretending to be someone else, I will quote the Fourth Doctor, “There’s no point in being an adult if you can’t be childish sometimes.” Look, everyday life can be incredibly boring. Tabletop RPGs are a way to take a break from it which is perfectly healthy. People play RPGs for the same reason we take vacations: you get to escape the stress and worry for a while.

But what if I have kids who want to play tabletop RPGs?

Let them! As long as the game is age-appropriate there is absolutely nothing wrong with your child being into RPGs. They’re great for giving an outlet for their creativity. You create a character from the ground up using nothing but a piece of paper, a pencil, and some stats. You get to create a backstory and immerse yourself in a fantasy world for a while. Gaming also teaches the importance of fair play, and gets them away from phones, computers, and video games to interact with others. Gaming also helps instill empathy by teaching how to think and act as someone else. If you pretend to be someone else for a while, you’ll be amazed to find how much easier it is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If they decide they want to run their own campaign, great! Running a game teaches leadership skills, judgement, and discretion. There are much worse ways they could be spending a Friday night.

But isn’t getting into RPGs is expensive?

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Not really. The books can be found on Amazon pretty cheap or you could borrow from a friend. The dice aren’t all that costly and you can find them at any gaming store or hobby shop. It’s also a common tradition, at least among my circle of friends that your first Game Master (or GM) gets you your first set of dice to welcome you to the group and to gaming. Character sheets for most games are available online as a free download you can print out. Pencils are cheap. Minis can get pricey but you don’t really need them. The most important thing you need is imagination and that’s absolutely free. If your child does get really gung-ho into gaming at the very least you can be assured that if they’re spending their allowance on gaming stuff, they’re not spending it on anything bad like booze, cigarettes, or drugs.

RPGs are a perfectly acceptable way to spend one’s time. There are even families who get together every week for an RPG campaign as a fun way to bond. So enough with the stigma already! If you want to game, go grab some friends and some dice and have fun! Rest in peace, stereotype.

Saturday 9/26 @ City Streets Cafe E. Windsor, NJ

This was a super fun show to do. Kurt was the host with the most. I had the pleasure of performing with Keith Carnevale for a second time. He performed at the Take 5 show earlier this month. It was great to perform with Scott Friedman and Carlo Bellario. As you can see from the poster, both Carlo and my last names are the bane of every spellcheck’s existence. The show was an absolute blast and it was awesome to hear from honest to goodness working comics that I have good stuff. The cherry on top happened when Kurt handed the mic to an audience member who happened to be a sod farmer with an epic ‘stache. Seriously this dude’s facial hair game was strong. Anyway, his name was JJ and he couldn’t do stand up but he entertained us with some smooth music and proceeded to belt a version of Loving You that would’ve either made Minnie Riperton clap or spin in her grave. The best part is that he made it look like he was singing it to Kurt. It’s stuff like this that makes me stay after the credits for every single Marvel universe movie. So, last night’s takeaway is always stay after the show’s over.