Sunday, 9 June 2019


The evil spawn of The New Rude was born when we were forced to accept waiting on help lines. 

Not one of us escaped that moment when we first had to decide to give in; to relent; to realise we had no choice but to obey their corporate rules.

There is no alternative: we have to relinquish any lingering feelings of self-respect, as we hold the phone to our ears, listening to an irritatingly smiley voice telling us in doublespeak that our call is important to the company, while simultaneously and emphatically showing us it is not.

If you ever need a definition of disingenuous, it is that slimy suggestion.

Were our custom in any way important to them, we’d not be hearing 37 minutes of a looped recording telling us that we can solve our problems on the web. If we could, we’d most certainly not be calling them.

And the music.
Oh the music.

Be it Billy Joel singing while he's being electrocuted, or a jazzed up distorted Bolero screech, the music serves to wear down our resistance; deplete our will; whittle away at our self-esteem.

As part of the overwhelming response to this colyoom’s recent complaint about Eir, I was sent a clipping from the Sligo Champion, in which Ciara Galvin was reporting on mass walk outs by employees at Eir’s call centre.

According to one of those workers, Eir had told their staff to “Take as many calls as you can and don’t worry about the customer.”

We are the casualties of this war. We are not customers. We are enemies, to be cash-extracted in the way that least damages the corporate entity.

The New Rude stems from the way these companies make us feel less than worthy as humans. We absorb that lack of respect, and then export it, allowing it to influence how we deal with each other, increasingly in less than worthy manner.

The New Rude is infecting us all.

I’ve seen how it manifests itself, draining down like a leaking poison from mega global organisations into tiny family-owned businesses.

I left home at 7:30 as I was teaching a class in Galway at 10am, and needed to pick up work from the print shop on the way in.

The printers’ website clearly stated they’d be open at 8:30, so I was upset to arrive at 8:45 and find the place closed.

At 9:05 lights finally came on inside the building, and I made sure to keep an even tone as I mentioned their opening times.

“We open at nine.” she said, with her back turned to me.

“Well, sorry, but not according to your website.”

“No! Our website says we open at nine.”

Really? Are you really going to argue Trumpian fake facts with me now? 

I know it’s early in the morning and you’ve not had your double mochalattechino yet, but rather than being polite to your regular customer, or even, gasp shock horror, apologetic, you’re going to argue with me over your own inaccuracy?

Instead of thrusting my phone towards her to prove the truth, I smiled, gave her money, took my work and left.

Generally I like to spend my dosh in my local community, but as I drove away I wondered why.

My chimney needed sweeping, but there only seemed to be one person available, who lived in a town 25 km away. He said he’d let me know when he was going to be working in my area.

Six weeks later he sends me a text to say he’s in my town the next day. I text back saying that’s great, any time after 1pm would be wonderful, as I’m out in the morning.

He replies: ‘I’ll be there at 10:30.’

Angry at the disdainful way he’s dealt with me, I text: ‘No you won’t! I’m not here then! Can you please come at 1?’

I’m still waiting for a reply, but this is The New Rude: a callous disregard for the customer, propelled by universal belittling of individual needs.

The New Rude loves banks, where humans pluck us out from queues, to make lodgements with machines that we know are putting people out of work. 

It thrives in supermarkets, where we’re forced to interact with other machines that are putting people out of work. The New Rude depresses and dehumanises us, when we or the machine makes an error and we have to seek help from a human, who still has a job. 

When the machines all work and we all know how to use them, there’ll be no need for humans at all.

Thankfully at the moment The New Rude is merely the rusty hinge making noise. Here in the West of Ireland most of our social hinges rotate silently and smoothly. Here respect still exists between company and customer.

When I need to overnight in Galway City I usually stay with friends, but when that’s not convenient, I take a room at Flannery’s Hotel.

Crisp, reliable and unpretentious, Flannery’s is affordable and friendly, but a while back I experienced a minor misunderstanding with a member of staff.

Had the place been taken over? Had they too been swallowed by a plastic menu chain, who’d enforced a change in  attitudes to customers?

After having a gentle word in the manager’s shell-like, I felt wholly reassured and forgot all about it.

Months later I stayed there, and entered my room to find a box of chocolates and a card on my bed.

“Welcome back, Mr.Adley. We hope you enjoy your stay, from all of us here at Flannery’s.”

This hotel will never become rich from my occasional custom, but evidently other matters mattered more to them.

My spirits soared. They cared. As long as customers and companies continue to respect each other, The New Rude will never completely control us.

©Charlie Adley

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