Notmyproblemitis

How may we help you?

Experts are concerned by the alarming spread of Notmyproblemitis or NMP.  This malady results in the infected person losing all feeling…for their fellow man.  Science does not know the exact cause, but the infection short-circuits a person’s ability to share in the concerns and cares of others.

How do you know if have encountered someone with NMP?  A sufferer gives off plenty of clues for the astute observer.

What they say:

  • That’s not my problem.
  • What’s in it for me?
  • That’s not my job.
  • This is my problem, why?
  • I’m on my lunch break.
  • It’s not in my contract.

What they do:

  • Move slower than the glaciers that carved out the Great Lakes, especially when you are in a big hurry.
  • Insist on crossing every “T” and dotting every “I”, despite those letters’ irrelevance to the task at hand.
  • Concentrate on their personal agendas despite your pressing need.

How they look:

  • Expression of caring concern like that shown by your average zombie.
  • Brief stretching of the lips in a pitiful travesty of a real smile.
  • Outright annoyance.

The tendency of this disease to manifest heavily in the customer service industries lends credence to the theory that NMP is occupationally contagious.

Treatment for NMP varies.  Some have reported success with:

  • Tattooing The Golden Rule on their arm.
  • Listening to “Bridge over Troubled Waters” on a continuous loop.
  • Having the infected hike 1,760 yards after trading footwear.

In extreme cases an empathyctomy may be required.

Our best defense is a good offense, and that means immunization.  If we all take our daily dose of RAK (Random Acts of Kindness), together we can stamp out Notmyproblemitis in our lifetime.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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58 Responses to Notmyproblemitis

  1. I think we ran into the guy behind the desk yesterday while trying to return a defective lawn mower belt at the local tractor supply.

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  2. mary i says:

    Great post, Yes we all to practice more RAK….

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  3. Robin says:

    Great insight, profound wisdom. I think we should cause RAK to become a viral, incurable infection, don’t you? I am a new reader, and I love your blog!

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  4. k8edid says:

    Pssst. I’m sorry, but your bracelet is supposed to be flurorescent pink. And perhaps you may want to give those rough elbows a little extra treatment. I hear Bag Balm works wonders…

    I stopped this morning at a new convenience store (my old choice was attended by the young man in your photo and I grew weary of his attitude). The cashier at this store was soooooo friendly. He told me how beautiful I looked today, commented on the gorgeous (already 90 degrees) weather, and addressed me using his charming southern drawl “Y’all have a good day, Mizzzzzz C.” I thought he was psychic until I realized I had my name tag on….I thought he was just just providing excellent customer service until his hands (both of them) lingered on mine a little too long as he handed me my change and asked, again with that sweet Southern drawl “Is there anything else you need from me today?” Halfway to my car I realized he was flirting with me.

    I’ll be stopping there again tomorrow.

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    • k8edid says:

      Psst. Psst. I mis-spelled fluorescent. Also – I got an e-mail on Friday I think that you had posted something, but it would not show up. It was something about a lot of talent, so I am sure you finally wrote about ME!! Or maybe not. Or maybe you blocked me on that one? I spent the whole long holiday weekend worrying about it. Truly.

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      • pegoleg says:

        Now THAT’s the kind of customer service I’m talking about! A little non-threatening, slightly naughty flirting is just what the doctor ordered.

        That dang post decided to launch itself before it’s time. It still needs to marinate a while before it’s ready for the public.

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        • k8edid says:

          I had a pseudo-romance with our butcher in Michigan. He had the bluest eyes that twinkled, and he always placed my carefully wrapped bundles of animal flesh into my waiting hands with a gentle, lingering touch. My husband knew all about our shenanigans, but as long as the food appeared on the table, he pretended he didn’t care about our public weekly rendevous. He blamed us (the butcher and me) for his high cholesterol…though and I had to give him up. Sigh.

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  5. I vote for making RAKs a habit!! Especially in this economy, but just because it’s the “right” thing to do, there is no room for NMP in the world. I, however, am a strong believer in karma ~ the boomerang will return to them! Great post!

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  6. I’m with you all the way on the spirit of what you wrote here, and I’m always impressed with people who not only preach it, then but go out and live it. A while back, my wife and I became friends with a couple who were “New Age” types, and they had one of those bumper stickers that read “Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty”. Unfortunately, these two eventually turned out to really be very dysfunctional, dishonest and mean spirited people. With them, it was more like “Practice Acting Random and Senseless”.

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  7. robincoyle says:

    Customer service is everything but so many have forgotten how to give it. But they sure can complain if THEY don’t get it.

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  8. Dana says:

    Sometimes, (rarely, but still sometimes), there are two sides to this coin. Having worked long and depressing years in customer service myself, and having been trampled on by the rudest and most demanding people I’ve ever encountered while I was there, I would happily have contracted Notmyproblemitis every now and then. There’s only so much a mostly-accommodating, mostly-cheerful, mostly-stellar clerk can tolerate before deciding that thrilling displays of flexibility are not required for every single customer, especially at the rate of $6.74 an hour.

    On the plus side, working in customer service has made me a better customer. Maybe the cure for Notmyproblemitis is requiring EVERYBODY to spend at least 6 months of their lives working at a shitty job for terrible pay. (Granted, even though empathy would be the desired outcome of this treatment, general hatred for humanity could also emerge as an unfortunate side effect. And then we’d be back to square one.)

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    • pegoleg says:

      You’re right. I KNOW you’re right. And I probably should have more empathy myself for what the person waiting on me is going through. But to repeat a catchy phrase I heard somewhere…that’s not my problem. Almost worse than the apathetic, brain-dead customer service person is the one who insists that I feel her pain by telling me in minute detail how her boss is really Satan’s spawn and working there is hell on earth. Even if it’s true, maintain the illusion for us, the buying public!

      Having said that, you are so right that all of us could benefit from walking a mile in someone else’s shoes (I wondered if anybody got that was the last “treatment” I prescribed?)

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    • Lori-Ann says:

      I agree Dana, years of working as a cashier was great training to become a great customer. There’s that epiphany moment when you realize that some folk truly believe themselves to be the center of the universe, and that you never ever want to be caught demonstrating the same delsuion.My husband and I both make a point of being kind to cashiers, especially when we are in line with someone who hasn’t had that epiphany yet.

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  9. pattisj says:

    I started out in a customer service position, and I carried all I learned through other areas of employment. Attitude is everything! How may I help you?!

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    • pegoleg says:

      You’re so right! I’ve had a number of employees over the years, and by this point I’d say that good attitude counts more for me than just about any other criteria.

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  10. i mayfly says:

    Having worked retail in my younger days (4 holiday seasons), a short volunteer stint in food service and almost 20 years in public service, I can say that some days even Mary Poppins has an off day. Whining, demanding, ignoring, demeaning, hostility and even lechery over the long haul mounts up and takes a toll. Burn-out is a bummer for all concerned. (Personally, I quietly hummed Amazing Grace when I felt the stress hormones kick into overdrive.) A couple of lessons I learned from the Front Lines: (1) make eye-contact with servers, smile, thank them with sincerity and don’t leave an ungodly mess at the table; (2) stay away from retail stores on holidays. I enjoy my time off with family and hope others do too. (3) if a customer service rep is snippy with me, I don’t return the favor. Snippiness usually begets snippiness and can really screw with my entire day. Instead, I TRY to be extra Pollyannaish. Oddly, I derive a perverse pleasure in “trying to turn that frown upside down.” Yes, I may be inwardly thinking, “Does this face look like I give a shit?” but I hope not to fuel that negativism because I’ve found it actually causes me physical harm.
    Sorry for getting so long-winded. 😦

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    • pegoleg says:

      No, no, thanks for the long wind – you have some really good points! Returning bad with good not only diffuses the situation and makes you feel virtuous, it really, really annoys the other person!

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      • i mayfly says:

        Isn’t it the truth! Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy that Volatile Violet was ready to unload her bile and putrification on my rainbow and I dodged her cesspool. I’m always curious if the next poor sucker got double barrels or if Violet changed her tune?

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  11. I’d comment, but technically, you need to go the the intake department and then click on the box there. Also, if you want to get the 10% off, you have to bring the coupon. I’m sorry but (cell phone rings) Hello? Yo what’s up? Nothin’…just work, you know…same old same old…didja? how was that? I wanted to go, but I was really tired that night…yeah?…sounds like it was cool (turning back toward you, a look of slight surprise that you’re still standing there -cell phone drops away from face slightly as they ask)..Do you need me for something else? You need to go to the intake department and have a coupon. I can’t help you at this desk, I don’t have access to those codes. (Back to cell phone) Yeah?…nothin’ just some customer stuff….

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  12. Too true! I LOLed, but it made me ever so slightly uncomfortable… when I started out working in my early twenties (crappy jobs, I might add) this was me. I soon realized I was never going to get or keep a job I liked unless I pitched in. Now I have reversed my NMP-itis to the extent that my colleagues ask me to please stop saying yes to everything and being so damn helpful as it makes them look bad 🙂

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  13. Angie Z. says:

    My favorite thing is when I’m leaving a store after making a purchase, grab the bag from the sales clerk and emit an involuntary “thank you” — to which the sales clerk responds “you’re welcome”. Halfway out to the parking lot I realize that there was something backwards about this verbal exchange.

    I worked retail all through high school and college. And (prepare yourself for my “uphill both ways” soapbox speech) I was always bending over backwards for customers, beyond what was expected of me. “Do we have that size, no, but I’m happy to call our other stores to look for it. Do you need me to help you out with these boxes? I will call Lenox every day if I have to in order to ensure your china is here in time for your bridal shower.” I can’t tell you how many times I want to pull aside some store clerk and lay into them for their lack of customer service skills. It’s appalling.

    Okay, I’m done.

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    • pegoleg says:

      A young woman was checking me out a couple of days ago and was talking to another cashier at the same time. That wasn’t so bad – she said hi before she commenced with the chatting – but she was one of those people who can’t do two things at once. Whenever she turned to comment to the other girl, she stopped scanning and paused with my can of tomatoes suspended in midair. After a few minutes of this I said (politely, mind you) “Keep scanning, please.”

      The look she gave me, hastily masked, was “I can’t believe you said that, you old bag!”
      Why should I HAVE to say that? And why do I feel like the one at fault??

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  14. Lori-Ann says:

    I have to confess Peg that your list of What They Say could be a fridge magnet at my house. Does it count as bad if you live with two 21 yr old men? Or do I still need the vaccine?

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  15. Lenore Diane says:

    Yeah, yeah – what’s your point? I have other posts to read.

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  16. Okay, I have also worked in retail for an eternity. I’ve waited on the worst or the worst. I’ve dealt with cranky people throwing stinky candles in my face demanding a refund. And you know what I did? I grinned and put on my happy face and was genuinely nice to these people, all of them. Then, on my little 20 minute break, I’d go into the stock room and swear my fool head off. Win-win.

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  17. Barb says:

    I have to admit, I did a Not-My-Problem act today. But I feel guilty…does that count? A guy was sauntering down the grocery aisle. Middle-age man just zombie-ing along enjoying a stroll through the canned peas and tomatoes chatting with his wife about celery and what-not. As he approached the corner to turn, I saw my chance, and like and Indie race car driver I shot around him. While I didn’t make his cart wheels stutter to a stop, I know I cut it close and he yelled, “EXCUSE ME!” to my distancing backside.
    I know there was a better way to handle that, and as he passed me in the checkout, where I’d already unloaded 1/2 my basket, I thought….”I should mumble a Sorry, but then I had that cursed thought….”Well, it’s not my problem he’s so slow and I’m in such a gosh-wing-it hurry.

    The Universe made you write this post for me, didn’t it, Peg-O? Flogging me with guilt. Now, I’ve got to to the grocery store and do a random act of kindness….like ….waiting patiently without saying a word for the 3 galls in the diaper aisle to break up their convo so I can get through.

    I hate the grocery store. But that’s not really your problem, is it?

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  18. exhaustedcynic says:

    Hmmm… It would appear that Holland’s retail sector is heavily populated with these guys/gals… Caveat Emptor!

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  19. Sometimes I dot my T’s and cross my I’s just to test zombie reaction.
    Wild, I know.
    🙂

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    • pegoleg says:

      How do they react? Besides trying to eat your brains.

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      • Tar-Buns says:

        Thoughts of the movie “Mars Attacks” popped into my head after this comment!
        Yup, customer service in the trenches ought to teach empathy for life, but, not so.
        Attitude IS everything in life – i keep reminding myself of that lesson 🙂

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        • pegoleg says:

          I thought that movie was going to be so funny, but it creeped me out!

          Only on this blog can a discussion of modern customer service lead to brain-eating martians.

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