If that lotto machine had had a face, I would have punched it. I was late, I was harried, and it was my turn to buy the stupid tickets. I’m in an office pool for lotto, a fate that requires an infinite weekly contribution of $4 and the burden of having to buy the group tickets on Tuesday and Thursday every 7 weeks. Both responsibilities annoy me. We never win shit, we are obviously cursed. None of us would ever dream of opting out, though. There is no way I’m going to be the idiot stuck at work while the rest of them are off frolicking on their luxury yachts. Whenever it’s my turn, I bravely receive the cash and a little tally sheet with everyone’s name checked off to indicate that they have bought in. The explicit instructions are scripted at the top so that I know exactly what to say to the guy. I don’t like the guy, though. I feel inadequately prepared to manage a lottery transaction with an actual bona fide human being. I start out behaving as if I know what I'm talking about, but then there are follow up questions and the gig is up. To avoid these unpleasantries, I prefer to frequent the automated machine just inside the door of the grocery store, where I am, always. I always am. I am always there. Yes.
This was the first week that we changed things up to include Powerball tickets in our draw, and after nearly missing the deadline on Tuesday thus being forced to deal with the guy, I was ready for Thursday with both opportunity and the know-how to fulfill my obligation and make us superpowermegamillionairres. But the machine… the trusty, convenient, guy-less machine was being such an asshole. It would. Not. Take. My. Bills. They were crisp, they were fancy, they were correct of change. (Because the asshole machine does not give change). So when only one of the fourteen dollars I needed to insert was accepted, even after I had begged and pleaded and folded and cajoled and stomped and crumbled and straightened and exchanged, I had no choice but to purchase one lowly draw, even though it meant going off script. Scary! Before stomping off in righteous indignation, I squeezed my eyes shut and fervently prayed that either: a) we would not win off of this ticket because this stupid store did not deserve to share our superpowermegamillions, or b) we would win off of this ticket because, duh.
The most frustrating part of this whole incident was that there was no one to whom I could complain. I mean sure, I could write a strongly worded letter to the California State Lottery, but I sort of what to keep those guys on my good side and they’d probably be all “have you ever heard of the guy?” I could complain to the grocery store, but it’s neither their fault nor their property, so what’s the point? It’s unsettling, though, because I am the person who writes the letters.
When I have a bad experience as a consumer, I almost always speak up. I am a sender back of bad food and a filler out of comment cards. I am a writer of letters.
I am a believer in the airing of grievances. I think it's our duty as consumers, and our desire as managers. As a manager, I have little patience for silent complainers, mostly because I find it extra hard to fix things if I'm not aware that they are broken. As a consumer, I can only assume that you the manager would want to know if something is broken so you'll have the opportunity to make it better. I also want to offer you the opportunity to make me feel better by giving me coupons and compliments.
I think all of this translates well to personal life as well. State your grievances, air your disputes. It's not easy, but it's necessary. Tell me when I screw up, and I'm likely to learn from it and apologize, or clarify my point of view. I might even offer you a coupon.