Facebook Real Names Policy – Narcissism, Zuckerberg and me

Facebook are enforcing their real names policy like jackbooted fascists. Pressurising members to use their real legal names rather than any assumed, stage or preferred nom-de-plume. Please see my previous post for their reasons why – Facebook Real Names Policy – Intro.

This is the second post of this series.

 


People ask why I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants. I usually say “Mind your own business”.  Sometimes, however, I’m not so rude about it; the reason I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants is because people know me by that name.

A C64 connected to the internetI started using the internet in 1986, but back then the internet was bobbins and was more like Ceefax than the internet we know and love today. Back then I used the handle Stegzy and remained using that name until about a month later when my parents got their telephone bill and the internet was taken away from me.

Tardis yourself forward in time to 1998 when I bought my first PC. It was a Pentium 266. It cost me £1000 or there abouts. Top of the range. Fast modem (56kpbs). A whopping lump of RAM (something like 16Mb). A cavernous hard drive (approx 512Mb). I connected to the internet and restarted my online life as Stegzy.

Internet fashions came and went. AOL IM, CompuServe, that weird virtual world that Demon Internet had for a few years, Usenet newsgroups – all using the name stegzy. The Gnomepants bit came shortly after, when, as more and more people began using the internet, names were getting quickly claimed by other users. Yes, another Stegzy started to appear. I had to distinguish. Someone I knew then affectionately used to call me Gnomepants, I adopted that name as my online personalities surname.

Free serve logoThis was the early 2000s. Then came Freeserve chat. I used the name stegzy there as well as evilgnome. Sometimes, for anonymity, I would use the name gnomepants. It helped separate my real life from my online life. It kept people from my work, past and those I didn’t want to communicate with, out of my online adventures where, if they found out about my activities, they would have ruined it. Ripping me away from my special place. My escape. My hide away. Where I was safe from those that would interfere. A place I could be myself without fear of judgement or prejudice.

The Existential CompostNext came Livejournal. You can find me there using the name Stegzy too and all entries from there have been preserved here on WordPress too. That is when the real Stegzy Gnomepants blossomed. 2004 came and went. Sometime during this period a bloke called Zuckerberg created a service called Facebook…you might have heard of it.

So lets look at this again….1986 I begin using the name Stegzy. Stegzy Gnomepants circa 1998. People I meet on line know me as Stegzy Gnomepants. I spend the majority of the period 1998-2004 online as….Stegzy Gnomepants. Then some bloke comes along and creates a website called Facebook which nobody had heard of.

2006 yesterdayOk, let’s carry on…Myspace – Stegzy Gnomepants. Hotmail – stegzy gnomepants. Google! What name shall I use? Oh I know, I’ll use my real name…Nobody knows me…ok I’ll use my assumed name….Everyone knows me! Stegzy Gnomepants.

2006ish. Good online friend Dan4th (Hi Dan if you still read!) tells me about some website where American kids hang out. Fascist books or Fuctbook or something. Oh yes…Facebook…I’ll sign up. Stegzy Gnomepants.

Blogspot arose – Stegzy Gnomepants; WordPress – Stegzy Gnomepants; Hell, I’m Stegzy Gnomepants on the BBC, Ebay, everywhere. Search google. You’ll see me using that everywhere and I have been for a very very long time.

Once more lets step back and look –

stegzy_1398497700_140
Me – Yesterday
DrJuliusNo
Mark Zuckerberg – Yesterday

 

Me – Known online as Stegzy Gnomepants since 1998

Zuckerberg – Known online as Facebook since 2004.

Think that makes me win.

 

 

oculus-facebook2014. Facebook decide that I must use my real name. A name nobody on the internet knows me by.

I teach Social Media for Business during the day. In my lessons I advise that to be successful online you need to remain consistent across all platforms. Use the same username where possible. The same avatar. The same contact details. Thats how people know who you are.

Mr Zuckerberg, if I’m to change my name just for your silly little empire, then my influence will have no weight. Businesses will not use me as an influencer. I cannot be a potential brand ambassador for your clients. I am the celebrity. I am the authority. I am the connector, the expert, the agitator.  I am the journalist and the activist. I am the personal brand personified. That means my identity is nothing to you.

Yes I know you say I can create a PAGE but with a page I cannot interact with people as a person. Like things as a person. Interact, engage and amplify as a person online. Especially with products, services or similar which anyone can see me liking, make a judgement on my character. My beliefs. My choices. People that judge. People who I have no wish to share my identity with.

Someone said about my last post on this matter “If you don’t want to adhere to the Facebook’s terms and conditions don’t use it”. Something I am considering. Very hard. Perhaps over to Google+, who realised a very long time ago, forcing your “product” to use something in a way they don’t want to leads to failure. Isn’t that right Google Wave?


 

So when the call comes I will depart from Facebook. I will leave it never to return. You can continue to read my exploits here on WordPress or follow me on Twitter (@stegzy). Facebook postings will decline. I’m sorry if you, like Zuckerberg, no longer want, care or give a stuff about what I say, like or want to share with you. I’m sorry if you no longer want to fuel our social media narcissism together.  But if that’s the way you want to play, I’ll let you take your ball home by yourself. Just mind you don’t trip over those toys you claim I threw out of my pram.

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Wet

I watched the last remaining survivors clinging to the life raft. They had been adrift for some time allowing the cold north easterly wind carry them through the mist. The waters were uncannily still and they observed little wavelets lapping at the shore of two distant islands.

Continue reading “Wet”

Sunny Days

As the sun gets stronger through the year and the days get warmer and brighter, our thoughts turn to outdoor pursuits. Walking, picnicing, nose picking, porn foraging and, most popular of all, barbecues.

Now, I’ve got a thing about barbecues. I used to love ’em. Nuked meat Russian roulette. You either get a charcoal cinder or a black and crusty raw and bloody surprise. Love em.

However these days I realise the horror of having barbecues. The hours of slaving over red hot coals ensuring your guests have ample mountains of food (most of which you’ll either under or over accommodate for) knocking back beer after beer in an attempt to keep up with the guests who are getting merrier by the minute because they are sat down in comfort while you serve their every whim.

Then you get to sit down. You get the cold soggy left over bits that nobody wanted. The suspicious looking burger. The dodgy looking kebab. The insidious looking chicken wings or quarters that will no doubt still be raw in the middle even after being on the heat for what seems like 30 years. The limp lettuce. The flaccid overcooked sausages. All the good, tasty looking bits have gone. Your feet ache. You’re not as pissed as everyone else there. It’s clouding over. People are starting to make “Lets go home now” motions.

Yeah. Thats fun.

Isn’t it?

No. The thing I like about barbecues is going. Sitting there while my host slaves over hot coals. Getting merrier and merrier because I’m sat down chatting old toot with the other guests. Getting plied with food, nibbles and drink by my host and his/her partner. Relaxing. Enjoying the time. Getting the nice juicy steak. The right looking sausages, the burgers that don’t look too over or under done. The chicken pieces that aren’t still squarking. Getting them all for myself. Leaving the other less attractive bits to the chef or what other poor sod turns up just before I get to go home.

Then once my gizzard is full and I am fully sated with beer and meat. I can then yawn. Make some shit excuse about having an early morning, and go home. Leaving the host to clear up.

Yeah. I like barbecues.

Haunted Inns

Royal Oak, Langsett

Many years back I created a website on the now defunct Geocities service. The site was intended to be a gazetteer of inns, pubs and hotels that were reputed to be haunted and used pre-researched information from a book called Haunted Inns by Marc Alexander.  This was during the early years of the internet and my little corner of the web attracted plenty of attention. I would often receive emails from journalists, people interested in visiting the inns and those fascinated by the bizarre and supernatural. I was even featured in newsletters and once on BBC local radio.

The Hop Bag Inn before demolition

As time passed I was amazed by the increasing volume of visitors to the site and took it upon myself to register the domain hauntedinns.co.uk. On the back of that, I developed the site further, but by the time I was finally satisfied with the design and the content, interest was waning and I found my time taken up with working more than driving round the country looking at pubs. Times and money got difficult and the registration of the site lapsed; regretfully I archived the site and forgot all about it.

Since then I have moved to the sunny West Midlands. I have the funds to journey too and fro, back and forth across the country. Occasionally I will find myself in a strange town, my brow furrowed with uncertainty as distant memories stir. “Wasn’t there a haunted inn here?” I’ll ask myself. The answer only arising when I return home and I am able to check Alexander’s book.

The Black Horse, Cirencester

This weekend I was in the delightful Roman town of Cirencester and once again I was certain that there was a pub in the area which appeared in Alexander’s book. After a bit of exploring I saw and photographed it, no longer for my website, more for my own records some examples of which you can see on this post. But it was upon return to Leamington Spa that I was struck by an idea.

Back in the day, Google was just a word you would use to misspell goggle. Map services in the early days of the web were a bit poo and Google’s Maps sounded more like a children’s book than a service that would be used every day to snoop on and stalk people and places. Of course, these days, Google Maps is a very powerful tool especially when used with the Street View function. Of course it is not the same as visiting the place personally but with the ability to locate the pub and mark it on a personal digital map that can be shared and even accessed on a mobile device, I think I will finally be able to tick a few more off the list.

Saltergate Inn - Appears to no longer be a pub.

On creating the points on the map I became more aware that over the past few years more and more village pubs have sadly closed, been demolished or even changed names. Out of the entire book of about 35 inns, 10 have closed or appear to have been wiped from the map in some way or other. Sad days. But at least I’ve managed to visit a few of them before they disappeared forever, their memories confined to pages of books, grainy photographs and blog posts….

Hairdressers I have known

People ask me “stegzy How do you get your hair to look so fine and bountiful?”

“Easy” I reply “I leave it the fuck alone”

Some people are shocked by such a response and end up moving away muttering to themselves under their breath but others quiz me further until I move away muttering to myself. I’m a firm believer in letting nature take it’s course. Nothing goes on my hair other than water, the occasional bit of shampoo, air and a bit of finger grease. I wash it when it feels mucky. I tend not to brush it vigorously and I never apply any gels, oils, creams or poultices. I leave it the fuck alone.

The same goes for having it cut. For really special occasions and that I’ll have it cut if it is required. So I go for the natural look. Nothing artificial goes on it, plain and simple. Though it hasn’t always been that way. Indeed, there was a time when I used to frequent hair dressers or barbers on a regular timetable. I’d happily part with my £5 for 20 minutes under the scissors of (an often) camp chap while they gave me a short back and sides a la my dad in the 1950’s. Of course I didn’t know any better. Easy money for no work at all imho. (Apologies to any hairdressers that read this)

Initial Visits – Norman

I can’t remember my first excursion to a hair technician. I imagine it was probably what used to be called Norman’s. Owned, surprisingly, by a chap called Norman, Norman’s was a traditional barbers shop. As far as I can remember it has occupied the same little shop at the Grange Lane crossroads in Gateacre in Liverpool. It could be that a barber has occupied that shop since it was built. I have no idea, but I do know that I’ve only ever known it as a barbers shop. The shop may have had a red and white barbers pole on the outside and it may have had a horrid interior. It was so long ago I can’t remember.

Norman was a typical scouse bloke. He was always cheery but he had a reputation as being a bit “close to the scalp”. Indeed, such was his reputation as a scalper my friend at the time Guy would often relate to me stories about how Norman had decapitated a man during a Number One all over.
Such stories were unfounded as Guy frequented Tuzios in Hunts Cross and Tuzio had a reputation of bumming little boys in the back room (again unfounded).

What I do remember of the shops interior was that the barber’s chair was an awful cranky uppie thing upon which Norman would place a plank of wood for small boys to sit on. Upon the walls there were black and white photographs of men with various stylish hair styles. None of which I actually saw being achieved by or asked of Norman. The pictures had you wanting to be stylish and they had you wanting to be swarve because the guys in the pictures were obviously swarve and stylish. They probably drove fast cars, wore white socks with their black brothel creepers and generally lounged about looking cool. Though they were probably not.

Norman continued to be the barbers of choice for several years of my childhood. Ceasing to be such by the time I was in my early teens and my eldest brother decided that the side parted mummy’s boy geeky look was probably not doing me any favours.

Millionhairs – Corny 80’s hair

My eldest brother used to insist that shellsuits were the dogs knob of fashion and that the brighter the colours the better. Indeed he also advocated the vogue of spiky Bros like flat tops and copious amounts of styling gel. My eldest brother was also insistent that a VIC 20 was far superior to a Spectrum 48k and that XR3i’s were better than Capris. In effect my eldest brother was a victim of the 80’s in a big and embarrassing way. He lapped up the latest trends like a dog laps water after a very long walk.

So it comes as no surprise that as a susceptible teen I was taken by him to a stylish hairdresser rather than a God awful barber like Norman. He whisked me off to the clichéd Millionhairs in some dirty back street of St Helens in Lancashire (near where he lived). The hair dresser, whose name I forget now, was as camp as Butlins, Pontins and Stalag Luft 44 all merged together and sprinkled with a bit of Xray and baked in an Auschwitz case.

The exterior was nothing special. No barbers pole this time. The inside of the shop was like something out of an 80’s cop show. All pampas grass, plush leather couches and the like. I was given a diet coke(!). I had my hair washed (first time at a hairdressers ever). I had it styled, sculpted and preened. I felt great. In fact when I got home my mum looked so pleased to see her new style boy with his turquoise track suit and gelled Bros hair cut.

But try as I might, even with all the Brylcreme in the world I could not make my hair go like it did that day. It would flop, go too crusty or make my head itch. Furthermore, this new look did me no favours and in fact the taunts got worse. Bollocks to that.

Herberts of Liverpool

My brother moved from St Helens to the newly growing new town of Runcorn. What an awful place that was too. As a consequence of him being away from the town of St Helens it meant that having my hair cut again at Millionhairs would prove to be tricky. Instead my dad encouraged me to try Herberts in Liverpool. What a fucking travesty that was. I had my hair cut by a trainee. I looked a right sight.

The more observant of you will probably know Herbert as being a bit of an E-list celebrity. He had a TV show in the 80s/90’s and has a reputation as being the best hairstylist in Liverpool. Pity about his trainees really. I think my experience there was so bad I’ve blocked it from my mind entirely. In fact whenever I see Herbert on the telly I start rocking back and forth, humming to myself while foaming at the mouth. I think I even went back to Normans a couple of times.

Boy’s and Curls

Dear God. It gets worse. The Eldest brother (do you see a pattern here?) moved once more, this time to Belle Vale in Liverpool. Being nearer to the family home meant that his choice of hairdresser was the choice we all had to make. So it was Boy’s and Curls.

Boy’s and Curls was originally a barbers shop. It was were all the Netherley scrotes and Lee Park Scallies went to get their nit infested heads shaved. Worried about the reputation of being a nit shop, Boy’s and Curls reinvented themselves as a stylish boutique with black and white checkered flooring, bright lights and mirrors but held onto that “Come ‘ere lad while I chop some of your girly hair off” feel. But trapped like a rat in a corner I would reluctantly attend the shop at the bequest of my mother. “Goangetyeraircut” she would screech at me.

Old habits die hard – His and Hairs, Sheffield

Then I became a student in Sheffield. As my 20’s are now mostly a fuss of misshapen memory I will relate what I can remember of my one and only hair cut in Sheffield.

I’d been away from home about a month when my mum said to me that I must remember to get my hair cut. I mulled over this for weeks until one day I’m doing my laundry and I noticed that the shop next to the laundrette was a Unisex Salon.

Having made a foolish mistake in the past of going into a Unisex Salon and expecting the people there to cut my hair only to be told “We don’t do men” I thought what harm would it do to nip in and ask while I waited for my crusty bedsheets to finish their wash.

“Do you cut men’s hair?” I asked and was answered by a fit of giggles and a rather jovial Jamaican woman hairdresser. I had my head pulled from side to side, the ends of the scissors stabbed into my scalp and I’m bloody lucky to still have ears I can tell you.

Fortunately the last I heard about that shop was that it had caught fire. Bloody good job I say.

The present day – From Tony & Guy to Highlights

So as you can guess, my experience with hairdressers and barbers has been one of chaos and discomfort. In the early 90’s when I’d returned to Liverpool I met Min. Who told me that he hadn’t had a hair cut for years. I idolised Min, he was the youth I wanted to be. Carefree, pot smoking, rocker type. His hair was so long it put Rapunzel to shame. Using my new found confidence I put my foot down and refused to get my hair cut.

Of course refusal is often fraught with times when you just give in to protests of “Get your hair cut”. So in order to maintain a quality head of hair I only allow highly qualified stylists near my bonse, meaning I have to go to Toni & Guy’s. Indeed, I had to have a couple of knots cut out before then and a visit to Highlights in Grimethorpe was called for on the recommendation of Mrs Gnomepants. But I resent paying large sums of money for hardly any work. I find it obscene that some people (mainly women) will gladly fritter away upwards of £50 for less than an hour under the scissors. Indeed, if such people would like to save half that money, come to Brierley and I’ll cut your hair for you.

And so drawing this post to a close (thank God I hear you cry) I’d like to thank Carole for the excellent trim she gave me a couple of months ago. She did a damn fine job. For free. And in less than 20 minutes.


This post originally appeared on Livejournal in 2008

Mustard is like Custard without the sea

Visiting the olds often brings mixed feelings. I enjoy seeing them. I enjoy going into town to meet up with the chaps. I enjoy sitting, drinking, chatting about any old bollocks. Then I go about the area, doing general chores,  shopping and revisiting old haunts.

2fc8ebae1acd4b67e044ca5058aa_grandeI suppose once you’re away from an area, when you return you notice things that you probably wouldn’t notice in your own environment. Like the shufflers in the supermarket; the fat couples with zombie like expressions continuing with their socially prescribed existentiality; the dodgy underclass being generally shifty. Then my euphoria sinks. Like some sort of shit on the toilet pan of existence being washed away by the bleach of reality.

What has happened to us as a society? Why have we become so vacuous, narcissistically self obsessed and  abhorrent? You may deny this, hell I would too, but with true introspection and examination of how we, as a society, follow the subliminal instructions from those who feel they are our superior, we can quickly recognise how awful this culture we have created has become.

It is then we become reviled by ourselves. Kid ourselves that “No! I’m not like that at all!”. Yet deep inside, we know we are. It feels bad. So we numb the pain, ignore the state of affairs and distract ourselves with shopping, computer games, Facebork or other such trivialities. We should be ashamed.

Planz

So this is the plan.

There is a walk I’d like to do. It is a long long walk. But I think it would help me clear my mind and procrastinate without actually sitting on my arse playing World of Warcraft all day. It would probably help me get fit too. I am terribly out of shape and I worry that unless I start to be proactive about stuff I will end up in an old people’s home being force fed puréed carrot by a Polish nurse with BO.

Continue reading “Planz”

>Landscape

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If I fell through a hole in time and travelled back 25 years. If I then looked out of my bedroom window across the field behind the lane with no name and beyond the field behind the field behind the lane with no name, not only would I have upset Mrs Edson’s daughter, but I would have seen the winch wheel of a pit stack.

As pinched from BAPIPHad I then gone downstairs and beyond the rear door of San Tor, tootled down the lane with no name and onto the corner of Church Street and Common Road I would probably have been able to see one of the largest collieries in the UK stretching out in the distance before me. There would have been power stations, winch houses, the constant drone of colliery activity and the like.

I would probably have seen a constant pedestrian traffic of orange overalls walking down the hill into Grimethorpe wherein those wearing the overalls would probably have stepped into a cage and travelled deep below the ground for a day of mining. In fact, had I gone to any number of places around the neighbourhood I would have seen similar sights of industrial activity. Trains and lorries laden with coal bound for the steel mills and power stations that peppered the vista.

People at a market I would have seen people milling about; doing their daily business with smiles upon their faces asking after neighbours and discussing Morecambe and Wise or some such. These same people would have been unaware of the devastation they would face over the next fifteen years or so. When their livelihoods were taken away from them by a government leader bent on revenge for the winter of discontent. A way to quell the voices of discontent and the socialism which threatened their brave new world.

Spin forward through time once more and where there was employment, there is but social decay in the shape of unemployment, bigotry and drug use. Houses that once were grand now look tatty and unkempt. Parades of shops that once boasted green grocers, fishmongers and butchers now stand boarded up and empty or populated by takeaways and offices of antidrug and employment building social enterprise groups. The contrast is vast.

2863774968_178f84e4be Travel to Liverpool 30 years ago and similar sights would have been seen, instead of coal miners you would have seen dock workers. Sheffield and Doncaster, steel workers. Newcastle, ship builders. The Midlands, motor industry.  An industrial past so memorable yet so long gone.  All gone. Thanks to the brave new world instigated by the Thatcher and perpetuated by the Blair governments.

Sure, industry would have struggled to compete with low cost foreign imports. It was a natural shift from production to service industries. However the speed in which the transition took place was so swift that few were prepared for the following years. This wasn’t 100 years ago, this was twenty to thirty years ago. Heck, even during my education traditional jobs such as butcher, baker, factory worker and the like were still discussed. Now, most of these jobs don’t exist.

Who to blame? The governments? They were the ones that set this passage in motion. The people? Reluctant to pay more for goods produced on home ground they would prefer cheaper imports to paying to maintain other peoples lives. Nobody? A natural transition that occurred as predicted by Marx? I can only speculate.

But what is clear is that since the industry was taken away very little has been put in place since. Sure Liverpool’s main industry now is education and tourism. Sheffield’s it could be argued is sport and culture. But places like the Midlands and Barnsley remain places difficult to find work in. Even the brief respite of call centres which have since been outsourced overseas only provided negligible difference.

As the population continues to grow unsustainably. The economy will continue to falter. Socialist ideals such as national health care and education  now too expensive at current prices will require more and more funding. The future is bleak, the future is most certainly not orange. Taxes need to increase. With increases in taxes, salaries will need to be increased. As salaries increase so will the drain on GDP. Inflation increases, held off artificially by government backing supermarkets and industry will surge and rocket, things will be bad.

Let’s think about a pie. Mmmmm pie. It is a nice pie. We all want a slice of this pie but some want bigger slices than others because they think they deserve a bigger slice. So to cater for the demand on pie we bake a bigger pie. But then people say that they want a piece of the pie that is comparative to the slice they think they deserve. The circle continues.

But let us go back to South Yorkshire and look around.

Think of the seaside town that is no longer popular with tourists. The once grand and splendid arcades now shuttered or populated by pound shops. The streets of dilapidated guest and boarding houses now multi occupancy dwellings inhabited by ne’er-do-wells, the down at heel and misguided immigrants. Pensioners wander the streets or sit outside once proud homes dreaming of times past when the new housing estate was once the local lido. Think of how this once popular place was alive with people happy and at peace now degraded, it’s heart ripped out by cheap foreign holidays. Then consider this seaside town land locked. You might now be imagining somewhere similar to Grimethorpe, Goldsthorpe, Mexborough and the like. Once proud pit villages populated by hard working proud people with facilities to cater for them provided by the pit owners.

Take the pit away and these places become that landlocked seaside town. The streets once burgeoning with shops now boast 1001 curries, kebabs and tanning salons. The schools once constructed in an age when architects considered the art of the building design instead of functionality now empty, burnt out or demolished. The churches whose congregations once boasted over 200 parishioners per service, now guarded by razor wire and awful looking grills to protect the already damaged stained glass windows. The pit itself, long cleared away, the ancillary buildings few of which remain are but depots for reclamation yards or meeting places for drug addicts and the destitute.

This is the brave new post war post industrial England. Sure there are sleepy villages, vibrant cities and bustling market towns in well to do areas, but for every Harrogate, there are many more Grimethorpes. These deprived areas like a rot will take a lot more than money, social schemes and the like to treat. With the decline goes pride, with pride lost there is little but apathy, with apathy comes decay. The wealthy international companies know this and they feast on the decay with their burger shops, their big name brand supermarkets, their "you must buy this because you need it" attitudes. Sucking the communities dry of the wealth which is then sent south or overseas and not reinvested in the local communities. We really only have ourselves to blame.


Cross posted to my Livejournal.

Escape from the Toilet of Doom

 

Universities_clip_image001_0000In the West Building of uni, there is a small gents toilet. It is, as I said, a small toilet. It is fitted only with two cubicles and, unusually, there are no urinals.

This morning on my arrival on campus I made my way to the loo to clear out my cup of tea from breakfast. The long  drive from Brierley to Huddersfield makes me want to wee more than a running tap so that loo is often my first port of call.

Anyway, as I entered I noticed that, as usual, the cubicle on the left was closed and engaged. It was at this point I realised that every time I’ve used that particular loo the cubicle on the left has always been engaged.

pro_sp36_1 Today was a different day from all the other times I have been to uni as I was using the editing suite a few doors down the corridor and I was expecting to be in there all day (the editing suite that is, not the toilet). So I thought to myself I’d check throughout the day and prove to myself that surely people must come and go to that toilet and I’ve obviously just been a victim of bad timing.

So by 12pm I was in need of the loo again. I popped in and sure enough the door was closed and the smells emanating from the locked cubicle indicated that there was either someone definitely in there or there was a problem with the drains.

By 2pm I’d finished faffing and it was time for my third visit of the day. Sure enough the door was closed. This time the smells were accompanied by rustlings of toilet paper and shuffling about. At this point I was thinking to myself “Hmmm this chap has been in there all day. I hope he is ok”.

toilet-paper-toiletBy 4:30pm, it was time to go home. Rather than face the entire journey from Huddersfield to Brierley with an increasingly filled bladder, I thought I’d nip into the gents and prepare myself for the journey.

As I approached the main door to the toilet, I thought about the day and the year and how everytime I’d been to that toilet someone, perhaps the same someone, had been engaged in the left cubicle.

Was it some sort of toilet monster? Was it just some errant academic of faecal studies? Could it be some weird gateway to Poo Narnia? Or maybe there was someone who lived in the cubicle…after all…there was a Chinese student in Liverpool Uni who lived in the 24hr computer centre (Troofax).

I opened the door gingerly and there….to my abject horror…and utter terror….the toilet cubicle door………was……..

OPEN!
**insert dramatic music here**

 

Toilet door

 

Rather than risk death by poo monster, asphyxiation by noxious gases or being sucked into some faecal version of Middle Earth I still opted for the right hand cubicle. I made my business fast and swift doing up my fly zipper as I left the room to save time.

Who knows what horrors might have befallen me had I lingered?

Stegzy’s Customer Service School

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Hello! Thank you for coming to Stegzy Gnomepants’ Customer Service School. Today I am going to show you the key skills required to succeed in this line of work*

1. Always give your friends first class servicess-4008010-CustomerService

  If your friends are happy they will tell their friends about the good service they have had. Word of mouth is more powerful than advertising. Advertising costs lots. More money means wealthier bosses – wealthier bosses mean better working environment – better working environment means longer toilet breaks for you – you go home happy. So if your friend comes in treat them right. Chat to them for as long as you like. It doesn’t matter about anybody else just make sure you look after your mates. If anyone complains then that’s because they have no mates and they have no mates because they complain all the time.

 

2. Never Smile

defusing-angry-cust Smiling means you are being friendly. Remember the customer is the enemy and should not be befriended. Befriending a customer means everyone gets first class service. This costs money and time especially if you talk to every customer you come into contact with. Time = money

Also remember

Under no circumstances engage the customer in conversation

Even the slightest hint of chumminess means one of the saddos will start calling in regularly. Regular contact develops into friendship and before long the saddo will be inviting you along to chess or bingo evenings and Star Trek Conventions and then every Colin, Barry and Douglas will be lining up expecting excellent service.

 

3. Never make Eye contact

5421217-lg Customers are naturally stupid. Remember you are in charge not them. The only people allowed to make eye contact are highly skilled sales people. They have special one way contact lenses and eye contact is an excellent tool for breaking down defences. Making eye contact can reassure a customer that the piece of shit they are buying is a quality bargain but it can also show weakness to the unskilled CSRep.

REMEMBER :- Eye contact should only be made by highly skilled sales people except in confrontational situations in which case a mighty glare can make anyone have weak knees.

For more on eye contact see Appendix R. Tibetan Eye Combat Skills

 

4. They need you more than you need them

Fist of Money The only reason you are in contact with a customer is because they think they want something you have. In reality they have something you want – MONEY and lots of it. No matter how many times someone protests or complains in reality they want to give you their money. Short of a good kicking most customers will happily part with their hard earned loot without second thought to the true cost therefore remember the following:-

  1. Gauge your customers wealth status – The more money they appear to have the less they are likely to want to spend unless they appear to be competitive or "Keeping up with the Jones’" types. They will more than likely want the middle of the range product so show them that one and then try and push them up the range. They probably wont buy the better product but they will leave thinking "I should have got that more expensive product" and probably come back.
  2. Less well off customers are more likely to pay double – They want the better products so that they look swish when their pals come round. Push the product that they can’t afford and mention credit services. Remember the words "Interest" and "APR" mean little to most people under 40
  3. If someone wants to complain give them to the customer complaints department – These people are highly skilled individuals and can convince customers they are getting something for nothing when in reality they aren’t. Do not attempt to placate a pissed off customer with offers of goodies unless you are trained in the dark arts.

5. The Customer is always wrong

 

customer_is_always_wrong_mousepad-p144277168556686225trak_400 No matter how right they think they are. Remember you are more knowledgeable of the products and services you can provide to them even if you actually know nothing about them at all. They may think they know the subtle nuances but they don’t, unless of course they are an ex-member of staff in which case they should be referred to a manager who will dispose of them in a recognised place of refuse. The only exceptions to these rules are people who work in motor factor/ accessories shops (e.g. Halfords) and in High Street computer retailers (e.g. PC World, Time, Tiny etc) – If the customer had any knowledge of the subtle nuances of the product in the first place they would have gone to a specialist and bought the right thing in the first place.

 

6. Your time is more valuable than theirs

daylight-savings-time Customers have bags of time as well as cash otherwise they wouldn’t be bothering you with insignificant requests. Show your disdain for their wasting your time by tutting and sighing when they can’t make up their mind. This will embarrass them into hurrying up and, although they will probably moan to their friends about how rude you were, they will probably buy the wrong thing and end up having to return. Besides you are unlikely to ever see them again anyway so what should you care?

7. The longer you postpone a problem the quicker it goes away

ignore This is especially true in CS in IT. The IT Monkey rule of "Ignore a problem long enough it will fix itself" is universal through out all areas of CS. So, if you are presented with a problem you don’t think you can solve yourself or you think may reveal more shoddiness on behalf of your co-workers, ignore it; it will go away.

If paper work is involved, shove it in the bin inside something such as an envelope of a chip wrapper;

If there is an electronic record of the transaction or contact make sure you hide it well.

Electronic resources are easily traced so check within your department for the approved method of evidence disposal.

8. Only be pleasant when funds are changing handsmainpic-money-guy

Remember, the customer pays your wages, if you are unpleasant at the critical time the may go elsewhere with their funds.

This is true right up until the end of their period of statutory rights after which they are not your problem.

Remember you are welcome to postpone dealing with anything other than transfer of funds as long as it doesn’t point back at you.

9. Every customer is stupid unless they speak to you in a civil tone

customer-service Phrases like "I don’t know anything about xxxx", "You! Help me out with this" or "I’m too busy to be coming in", name dropping and airs of superiority by customers should be dealt with utter contempt. Only stupid customers would dare use such tactics.

Remember the customer doesn’t know why they want something, it is up to you to tell them. It often helps if you explain in simple language or by pointing to diagrams.

Remember also that 80% of what you say to a customer will be forgotten an hour after the contact therefore when explaining important contractual obligations or financial things speed up your speech or bury the terms and conditions on the back of a piece of paper which they will never read until it is too late.

Rude customers are out to make money from your company or better their own means to an end. So if contact is in any shape or form uncivil you are well within your right to drag out any processes and make things three times as difficult for the customer than if they were pleasant to begin with. Eventually they will learn of their error and eventually, at some future point, calm down on advice of their doctor or start attending anger management sessions.

Finally,

10. Be smart with your rudeness

A skilled CSRep can always insult a customer without them even knowing. This could be by indirect reference or by subtle ways i.e. misspelling of their name. In this day and age everyone gets offended easily so there are numerous methods of insult on the market.

However, if your insult is too direct or obvious you may be faced with difficulty and possibly reprimand so it is important that the insult is untraceable and can be easily reinterpreted by a third or independent party.

We would like to remind candidates that these rules are widely known amongst CS centre Workers and any discussion of these secrets is considered taboo though some will discuss their own methods and rules of successful CS after their period of employment has ended or if they work for a different contact/call centre than you.

So follow these guidelines and you will keep both the customer and your employers happy. Oh yes….indeedy 😉

 

Thank you for reading.


* – Disclaimer – This is entirely for fun and not indicative of all customer service in the UK. No offence, implication or accusation should be taken with anything described.

This post was originally posted on Livejournal