One of the first rules of common decency when complaining about some corporate misfeasance is to preface your complaint with the acknowledgement that your audience is not truly responsible for the policy that has angered you. The voice on the line in Bangalore isn’t the one who decided that channeling callers through a Minoan labyrinth of recorded messages is an efficient way to solve customer problems; he wasn’t the one who decided to hire as few employees as possible to bolster the bottom line so that the CEO will receive a bonus that equals the entire yearly Gross National Product of Burundi. I suspect the person on the line is facing worse problems than your current inability to connect to the world-wide web.
Until yesterday I had never heard of Britt McHenry, the ESPN reporter whose churlish tirade against a parking lot attendant got her suspended for a week from her duties, which means someone else will have to probe the profound thoughts of linebackers, point guards, and goalies. Someone else will have to engage in pleasant banter with the anchors.
McHenry as issued an apology: “In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”
Here’s a catalogue of some of the “regrettable things” she said to the attendant:
I have a degree and you don’t.”
“I wouldn’t work at a scumbag place like this.”
“Makes my skin crawl even being here.”
“That’s all you care about is just taking people’s money.”
“With no education, no skill set”
“Do you feel good about your job?”
“I could be a college dropout and do the same thing?”
“I have a brain and you don’t.”
“Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me.”
“Oh yours? Cause they look so stunning.” (Criticizing the attendant’s teeth)
“I’m on television and you’re in a f**king trailer, honey.”
“Lose some weight, baby girl.”
Ms McHenry’s punishment is a week’s suspension from her job and the scorn being heaped on her by lesser people like me who are not on TV, a blogger with not much of an audience.
If I were an ESPN exec, I might make her read Dickens Great Expectations or Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle or demand she spend her week off in Buffalo County, South Dakota, the most impoverished county in the USA.
Lessons to be learned (besides the fact that the employee at the towing yard didn’t establish the parking statutes of the city): cameras, cameras, everywhere; also a megrims of humility is ultimately more attractive than the gorgeous smiles that orthodontics can create. Believe it or not, some of us out here don’t hold ESPN reporters as paragons.
In fact, they, too, can offer some inviting targets for ridicule — even when they’re not bullying some poor woman doing her best to earn a living given the lot she’s inherited.
Just be thankful, Ms McHenry, that HL Mencken ain’t around to have a go at you.