At my side job today, I was pretending as much as I possibly could at the whole customer “service” thing. I wasn’t successful even a little.

I wasn’t outright calling people stupid but I came pretty close. Anyone who has worked in any customer service position knows what I’m talking about. Some days you can’t even fake it.

I’ve always held the belief that most people just want to be heard. Not even necessarily listened to, just heard. People need to speak their frustrations out loud and have someone say, “yes, that is frustrating. I understand.” Regardless of the fact that we don’t understand and most likely couldn’t care less. Most people feel better having said their piece. They can dispose of their frustrations by spewing it out there and leave for others to clean up.

Look, I said I believe in that philosophical idea. I didn’t say I practice it. After many too many hours of listening to bullshit, I couldn’t care less how heard anyone felt. By then, the tissue-thin facade I barely put on, in the guise of professionalism, falls off usually around hour 6 of an 8-hour shift.

Today, it was the middle-aged brats trying to get more of something they were already lucky to get considering how busy we were. They weren’t busy so it didn’t affect them. It didn’t affect them, so it didn’t exist. As usual.

Regretfully, because I’m a flawed human, I didn’t put them in their place where they would twist in guilt, reevaluate every action they’ve ever taken, atone for every interaction they were responsible for turning badly, and throw themselves on their knees to beg forgiveness. They just whined and demanded special treatment for the amount of money they paid that was exactly the same amount everyone else had paid.

They didn’t even thank me for using all my failing strength on not hurling myself over the counter and strangling, at least, the one smacking her gum, with the white foamy bits in the corners of her lips, and the record-scratching laugh. It was tempting as no jury would convict me. Nope, no thank you. Just a resentful, disappointed walk out the door to resume their stoic woe-is-me; that they’d have to bear this cruel burden on their own like the martyrs they are. You know, just like Jesus.

Bratty like Jesus.

I actually could’ve worked some really shifty magic to get them what they wanted but I didn’t. It was against policy, it could’ve gotten me in trouble, and I didn’t like them. So I went as far as to pretend to look at possibilities, while putting the red five on the black six and those two on the red seven, and told them it was impossible and shot glares at the foamy gum-smacking one.

They left and I didn’t strangle anyone. What I did do was take it out on the next jovial person unfortunate enough to come to me for “support”.

Said gentleman was chatting on and on as I was doing my thing, as quickly as I could just to get him out of my face, when he started in with the questions. Cutting me off to clarify answers I was in the middle of answering, talking about “Judy” and “Samson” or whoever-the-fuck was coming who needed this or that. I don’t know you, pal. At all. Much less who Judy and Samson are. Stop asking me if they’re already here because I don’t know who the fuck any of you are! I’m not even on that screen, I’m clearly trying to extract information from you that is necessary to get you away from me but you won’t stop talking about people I don’t know, and your happiness and excitement is clearly making me feel even shittier.

—Oh, here’s a little tip. If anyone ever starts with, “Quick question,…”, walk away. Don’t grab your things, just go. If you do stay, as they are rolling around to hour 2 in their “quick question”, grab some Alka Seltzer, take a calming walk (don’t worry, you’ll have time,) cancel your plans for the week, and say good bye to your loved ones because someone is going to wish they were dead by the time the “quick question” even rolls around to getting asked.—

Finally, the questioner took a pause long enough for me to understand that it was finally my turn. I just sighed and said, “Yeah, I don’t care.”

He looked at me, looked at my exhausted posture and unflinchingly unamused expression, and broke out in hilarious laughter.

He turned red with sweet, innocent embarrassment. He said, “I’m sorry. I know I can go on, thanks for being so patient. I bet you’re tired of all the chit-chat. What were you saying?”

I cracked a genuine smile for the first time all day, “I guess I am tired. Sorry about that. It’s been a long day. Do you have AAA? I can give you a 10% discount. You know what? Screw it, I’ll just give you an upgrade…on me.” So I did. Day made.

Let this be a lesson, dear readers. Customer service people aren’t automatons. We don’t live and die by your happiness. We don’t give a fuck about your happiness. We care about getting through the day, have our own aches and pains to wade through, and still have to listen to your shit and pretend to care.

We also have the ability to give, or withhold, a lot more than we ever let on. There’s no telling how far we’ll go for you when you remember how human all of us are.

He made my day, I made his, and together we plotted sinister revenge against the gum-smacker and her ilk.

But that part was just for fun.