Part of the pest control business is dealing with complaints. You can be the best tech in the world, have a golden tongue and still you are going to have bellyaching on the route. Bar none. So like any good tech I’ve learned to deal with such grumblings. One reliable technique is to not get caught up in all the menushia, pick out the key points your customer is conveying and just solve the problem. You could call it in one ear and out the other– But just like every good tech out there- there are some calls you just DREAD to get and selective hearing just won’t help. .
It was a Friday and I was pretty stoked about the weekend. No yard work whatsoever and I get to run around the woods shooting people– now this is living! My day was interrupted however with a mid morning call and the office told me I HAD TO GET TO THIS GUY’S HOUSE TODAY!!!!! The caller wouldn’t reveal the nature of the problem just that HE HAD TO SEE ME and there would be no excuse not to show up. Now I get these from time to time & although I hate em, I play the game and do my part as a dutiful tech and get out there at the first break in my day. That’s when the lovely voice on the phone gave me his name and at that point- alarms went off in my head and fear gripped my throat & I realized…. It was HIM. (that’s part ones link–read it)
The Games Begin
I’m a firm believer in tackling the toughest problems of the day first so it doesn’t weigh you down and you can move forward but this was one I wanted no part of. I tried to get the office to tell him I was booked and couldn’t get out till Monday but he’d have no part of it. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 o’clock at night! You get here today!!!” My schedule was pretty tight already so with no choice in the matter I just kept plugging along figuring I’d get all my work done so that when he ruined my day–and it would be– at least afterwards I could go straight home. I’m sure I did a horrible job for the rest of that days customers as I couldn’t get my mind off this guy. I remember how he cornered me in the dining room and practically water boarded me with insinuations that I was having a fling with his wife. My mind was filled with scenes of how this could turn out. Rolling around on the floor fighting this guy off, using my sprayer wand like a nunchaku and putting his head through the barred window, over and over vivid scenes ran through my mind. More of the episodes however, ended badly for me. (why does my brain let me down) I knew he had guns in the house and this loose cannon was just the kind of guy to put them to use. As the time grew closer, my head filled with pure dread.
Just What Was The Problem
The whole day kept coming back to one question. Why was this guy so mad? Was is termites? I told him he had those 6 months ago–he refused to have me treat and did it himself. Did I break something? Was it roaches? Or did he uncover more imaginary evidence that his wife & I were quite the item? As I pulled in the drive I felt like my feet were anchored in cement. With a pit in my stomach I got out my tool belt loaded with aerosols– That was part of my plan, if this guy got squirrely, he was at least gonna get a face full of some 565. With B&G in hand I rang the bell and thankfully his wife answered the door. With a smile of relief I thought I can spray this sucker and get out of Dodge unscathed, uh, no. Just then HE walked around the corner and immediately pierced right through me with his laser beamed eyes and the pit that was for a moment relieved, suddenly was in my throat again. Right away the Mrs. began retorting to the angry husband that “it’s not his fault, don’t be mad at him” and I could tell whatever it was that had this family so upset, was the topic of the day.
Now as a little background let me clue you in on the Mrs. of the home. She’s a fine lady who really is a sweetheart but she’s about 95 pounds soaking wet and has the screechiest voice I’ve ever heard in my life. A high pitched nails on a chalkboard scratching shiver to the bone kind of voice! On top of that it’s as if she has no palette so her words are extremely nasally and hard to understand when she’s excited. At those times she sounds just like a muppett on speed and it can catch you off guard if you aren’t used to it. Now I’m not criticizing- I too was born with palette problems (years of surgeries) It’s just in all the time I’ve known her I found myself quietly chuckling when she’d get on a conversational roll. Still, all in all a great lady and here she was defending me.
Now ol Til of the Hun was trying to be tough and asking me all kinds of questions about what all my insurance paid for. It was along the lines of how he always attacked me and my usual tactic of in one ear and out the other was slow in working-if it was working at all. But the lady of the house just kept on in her loud and whining voice. “Eeeet’s not hees vault-heee couldn’t elp eet.” Her loud cries cut through the air and I could see even this Hulk wanna be was a bit un-nerved with this seldom reached pitch. He motioned for her to be quiet but I could tell the rebellion was in full force and she was having none of it. This went on for about 10 minutes and I kept explaining about my termite insurance, my liability, my vehicle coverage but with his mind games I just had no idea what he wanted me to say. As it continued I found myself wanting more and more to giggle with each shrill sentence that pierced through the air but knew I didn’t dare. I know that’s bad but I really couldn’t help myself. Here was Sadaam Huesin Jr. breathing out fiery threatenings again and again while his wife who reminded me of Oliveoyl (Popeyes girlfriend) was like a pesky fly and kept swirling around from side to side as he whooshed her away with the hand that wasn’t being used to point directly at my nose.
Just What The Hell Was It?
It seemed like this charade went on for a long time before I finally just had to ask in the most insisting voice I could muster. “Just what is the problem?” At that moment I guess they both realized they knew all about what was going on but hadn’t told me yet. For just a moment it was very quiet and they both looked at each other and then at me. That’s when ol ‘Charles Manson’ cracked a slow evil grin on his face and stared as if he had me trapped in a corner and was ready to pounce– “My wife had a roach crawl in her ear!” he shouted and at that point the interrupted scene boiled right back up again into a crazy comical frenzy. His words were like a cold slap in the face, it wasn’t anything I even thought of and so for a few moments I was stunned and I didn’t hear a single word either of them were saying. It was as if I went in a trance and in my out of body experience I could see him with his gnarled up finger pointing it’s way through my brain and Oliveoyl on crack with the Muppet voice flailing her arms going back and forth chatting up one side of his ear and down the other, and there I stood and I was no longer in a laughing mood.
Maybe I should have been ashamed my service to this 75 year old house couldn’t have prevented this, perhaps I needed to pony up the $500 emergency room fee they had with their late night episode…but no… I just stood, locked in a house with bars on the windows, hair triggered alarm, two young kids in the background with their jaws dropped to their knees and TWO adult nuts just going back and forth and carrying on like fools. It may have been the long hot week that took its toll on my brain or the many years of history I’ve built up with this family and all the crazy “all important” heart to hearts about how my service was not up to his standards. But I had suddenly had enough of this oft missing dominant male–, in the midst of all this chaos, I walked right past the two of them and pulled out my duster and some sticky traps, went in their bedroom, treated the 15 or 20 gaps I always treated, told them to seal up the floor boards so you couldn’t see the ground in the crawlspace below and maybe the Mrs. should put cotton in her ears. With that I exclaimed there was nothing further I could do and I walked out.
It’s been years since this episode played out & I almost forgot about it. Gangues Khan has since divorced his wife and moved on, the kids are off and building there own lives and the Mrs. found someone who loves her deeply. And me, I’m at the door punching in the alarm code-doing my service for almost the 20th year in a row. Considering how many times I feared for my safety on this account let alone them canceling with all the self made drama– I guess there’s something to be said about letting complaints go in one ear and out the other. At least my weekend went well–oh yeah, I got killed at that one too!