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Monday, December 19, 2005

How not to write a complaint form 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe files of the complaints and suggestion forms are a real garden of delights. 90 percent consist of complaints about the condition of the men’s bathroom, which no matter how hard the valiant janitorial staff tries, is always appalling. The other day there were reports of a large man, naked except for a pair of red cowboy boots, having some sort of fit in there. The guards investigated and found a man who had diarrhea all over his clothes and himself and was trying to clean up the mess in the sink. The facilities are not adequate for laundry and such an extensive toilette so he was splashing the filth all over the floors. The worst part was that he adamantly refused to remove his cowboy boots, in which a good portion of the diarrhea had puddled.

There are surprisingly few complaints against the staff, but they are usually the most entertaining. Some of the complaints most likely are legitimate. Civil service does not always bring out the best customer service practices in people and we all have bad days, but patrons often undermine their case with their letter. Even if the case the patron is making is cogent the patron will blow it by describing the employee against whom they’ve taken issue as a “limp wristed librarian,” “illegal alien Oriental janitor,” “bitter old maid who needs desperately to get her some,” and, my personal favorite, that “haughty fairy on the 3rd floor.” Here’s a tip: hate speech discredits you, you will not be taken seriously, and your complaint letter will be ignored. No one from administration will get back to you and the employee will not be reprimanded.

Some more advice. Although it’s hard to have neat penmanship using the golf pencils the library provides, try anyway, because this will help your case. Also, try to calm down. Fury negatively affects one’s writing ability. Sometimes people write the letters in such an agitated state that the letters are so riddled with errors and misspellings that the form looks like the scribblings of a barely literate madman. If you just want to vent, then fine, but don’t expect anything to be done about your complaint.

Often the forms are from mentally ill who, even though amazingly articulate, make no sense whatsoever. Although they have no point, they are wonderful in their own way.

I complimented a man on being handsome. He kicked me out for 30 days! I complied.

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