Something Seriously Wrong

July 2008

You start reading notalwaysright.com and it's funny. Then you read a bit more and it's distressing. You continue reading, and you start to spot patterns – there's only about three different kinds of encounter in there. Read a bit more, and you will lose all faith in humanity.

But read a bit further again and an interesting thing happens. There are still the jerks, and the completely stupid, sure, and the unsympathetic customer-service people who have to put up with all their crap, but there's something else going on.

Know how I'd summarise these stories? People lost, adrift in a sea of systems and processes and rules they can't comprehend or keep up with. They're not stupid, they just weren't designed for our incredibly complex institutions and structures and corporate policies and social dictates and written rules and unwritten rules and aphorisms that prove false the moment you use them.

These people (most of them) aren't particularly stupid, or any more evil than the average citizen. They aren't malevolent, or ignorant, they're just lost, and reacting the only way they have left – they can't understand what's happening, so they get frightened and angry, and start scrabbling around for any familiar words that might help them: “fuck you,” “the customer is always right,” “I pay your wages,” “let me speak to your manager,” “I'm taking my business elsewhere.”

Those are the telling bits; they're not requests or demands or statements, they're magic spells, supposed to fix a situation that has gone beyond understanding. They're the consumer's equivalent of “help me Lord!”

The site reads a lot differently when you see that.

KT commented:


Also, make a note of the phrase 'you're a f***ing carnival weasel'. I like it. I'd like to use it more in conversation.