Customer Service

I would like to do a comparative study of customer service in the United States and in Paris, France. My thesis, they both suck but for different reason.. Check it out.

By day 7 in France, I didn't even want to eat out because it took so long to get a meal. You sit and wait 20 mins for a menu, 30 mins for water, 2o mins for the meal and then 50 mins for the check.. next thing you know the whole day is done... and you are hungry again cause its been so long since you ate by the time you get the change back.. The French just dont so much give a fuck that you have somewhere to go, or anything at all to do with your afternoon or your life. You are supposed to savor the flavor, enjoy the meal and all of that, the company the wine and if that means that you wait 20 mins to get salt for your underseasoned entree.. So be it.. THIS IS FRANCE!!!! Joie de vivre!.. something like that... so at day 7, I took it back to the states and ate pomme frites (well actually these cool potato wedges that they offer in Europe) at Mickey D's.. which actually still took bout an hour.. but ya know.... at least there was no server to deal with.

On to the States! The first day back from France, I was sooo excited to have someone ask me how my meal was going!! No i didnt need anything, in fact, everything was superb.. but its good to know that you care! So you are now thinking.. im crazy and I am not even making a point.... Aha!!.. keep reading..

This gripe is not about my fabulous and friendly service workers on the Main Line in PA.. NO NO NO.. its about that bitter ass black lady that works behind a desk in every city in America, who acts like her job is the most important fucking thing on earth! Wednesday some co-workers and I head to Ballys Fitness Center to work out. As a part of the National Body Challenge, you can get 8 weeks free with the pass. So, I forget my pass on my desk, but my homie who had been there just the day before and did not need the pass. The lady behind the desk said "Oh, you dont even need this you are in the system already."

So I get there, and I am in the system and they want me to meet with the fitness coach.. "Oh no lady, I'm just trying to go to the ab class."

"Oh no honey, I you HAVE to talk to the fitness coach and you HAVE to take the tour."

"But I know where everything is and I have already set my fitness goals, so I think I'll just head up and work out!" Certainly she will let me go, because after all working out is FREE, so i'm not taking anything.. i'm simply saving her coworkers the hassle of touring me around utterly pissed off.. Oh NO!.. She consults the other bitter ass black lady who says, "OH NO!! SHE GOT TO HAVE THE PASS!! HAS TO HAVE IT!"

I lean toward them and swallowing my rage utter, "But I'm in the system and Bally's has called my home, I know i'm there."

BABL 1 says, "Well, they called you but they THOUGHT you were going to bring in the pass!"

So I call my other friend who is coming to meet us, to grab the pass off my desk and bring it.. and there i sit in the lobby for the next 45 mins, that I could sweating up a storm and lowering my risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes.. But i'm sitting there looking at dumbass BABL 1 and 2, who ask me a couple time each if I found my pass. I want to respond, but I find it hard to scream at a woman my mother's age and say, "NO BITCH!! and instead of harassign me, you should waddle your ass up them steps and onto an elliptical." But for real.. all jokes aside, how do you weigh 200 pounds at 5'2" and you work at Ballys?

So I finally get my pass, and she doesnt use any of the information on it. .She looks at it, tucks it in with my guest pass and with a few taps of the computer and that piece of paper I am in..

Now, you may read me as a BABL who should have brought her pass to get in... but I ask in simple business sense... If your goal is for me to join your gym. In other words, spend my dollars there in exchange for a service, why wouldnt you just let me in and tell me to bring the pass tomorrow. After all, you can get a one day guest pass at Bally's for FREE.. the Pass I have is FREE so I wasn't getting away with anything! But with their sassy black attitudes, they could no let a chica slide (oooh that was the perfect place for the N-word!)

Now this is definitely not the first time that I have met a BABL. She works at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and makes you go back to the end of the line when you lose your number because she HAS to have that or its not fair, even when she knows you've been waiting there for an hour. I've her behind desks in schools, doctors offices, stores, banks, any place where folks act like the customer no longer comes first. I've met them everywhere... and they are the reason why I'll tell my kiddies to go to college because I guess when you make 6.45 an hour, there is no choice, but to be bitter.


My class, 3:00pm January 14, 2008.

Me: Tomorrow is Martin Luther King's Birthday.

Student 1: No!!! It's next Monday that's why we ain't got school!!!!

Me: No, tomorrow is his actual birthday. Monday is when we observe it.

(they dont need to learn because they "know" everything..whatever. Then i realize, I probably shouldn't have said "observe".. that's what confused them).

Student 2 has his hand up.

Me: Yes

Student 2: Teacher, if I do something good, like if i'm great like Martin Luther King, can I have my own holiday...

Me: Possibly, but there have been alot of great people, and very few of them have holidays. Well national holidays. Lets see if we can name them. Can someone tell me one?

Student 1: JESUS!!!!!

Me: LOL yes.. anyone else

Student 3: Abraham Lincoln

Me: Yes, any others.

Student 4: George Washington

Me: Anyone else.. we have Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

Student 5 Hollers: YOU FORGOT THE CARVER!!!
(my eyes roll so far into my head.. and ignore the comment.)

Me: Can anyone think of any other Americans who we celebrate with national holidays?


Me: No

S2: well someone is born on Labor Day!

Me: you are right. someone is born everyday.. that doesn't make it their holiday.

Me: Okay.. let me help you all out. .what about Columbus Day? Who is that in celebration of?

All: Christopher Columbus!

S7: Who is that??

Student 8 (adamantly): DUH!! HE FOUNDED COLUMBUS, OHIO!

I pause, then it registered.. I turn to my co-teacher and repeat the student says while hysterically laughing.. I get up and leave the room. My ignorance quotient has officially been reached... Or so I thought..

When I return, students are still discussing the merits of Mr. Christopher Columbus.
I take my seat once again.

Me: someone tell us what Christopher Columbus did... Student 9..

Student 9: He discovered America.. well he didn't discover it cause it was people already here, but you know he was the first one over here...

Me (happy that SOMEONE has a clue): Exactly!!

Student 5(looks at me with such sincerity): Is he dead?

Me: No, but I wish I was.

The End.

Epilogue: I teach 7th grade.

F the N word.

Last July the NAACP hosted a funeral for the N word, attempting to take it out of the American lexicon, and particularly the vernacular of African Americans. The most prominent civil rights organization hosted this funeral as a symbol to the rest of the world that we are no longer using this word. I understood the purpose, but I admit, when I saw Julian Bond walking down the aisle following an actual casket, I thought that the old heads had gone mad. I called my mother and asked what she thought. She applauded the movement, and scoffed at my indignance. because I understand the nuances of the word, and its place in history and in comtemporary culture. I have never arged that "nigga" is somehow better than "nigger", but frankly there is nothing wrong with black people creating their own rules, and it by no means gives white people the excuse to follow suit. We agreed to disagree.

So I continued my life saying, "Nigga please!" "Look at this nigga right here." Even randomly referring to white folks as niggas, cause they just acted so damn crazy and trifling. And I was cool with that. I debated Imus' use of nappy headed hos, and pretty much subscribed to the "I can say it, but you cant" I've even challenged my students to think about their use of nigga, among other words, and what that means about them and what it says to others. Not to encourage them to act one way or anotehr, but simply to understand and be able to participate in the discussion.. And my life was wonderful, until...

Until... while reading the "Who you callin a...." series from the July 2007 issue of Ebony Magazine, with my students one of them said.. "Ms. Shauri, I am a nigga. Nigga, nigger, whatever.. I am a nigger." I sat on the desk stunned. My mouth dropped open as quickly as my heart sank. I was looking into the eyes of children shaking their heads in agreement, who didnt understand. I heard myself saying nigga hundreds of times in such a casual way... thinking that there was no problem. Understanding the old folks who were offended, but thinking I was adept enough to handle the greatness of the word. And maybe I am... but I cannot contribute to a world that encourages children to not only use the word, but use it as an identifier.

I am a nigger.

Ima a nigger.
u r a nigger

i am a nigga.
I'm a nigger.
We are niggers.

It was my AHA moment. The moment where you know your life can never be the same. The minute when your soul has been changed, adn what was once okay is no longer acceptable. I hated myself in that moment for contributing to an epidemic. The epidemic of black people who misunderstand themselves. How can we expect them to rise above, when they see themselves as Niggers? Can they possibly beat the odds, when they see themselves as primarily the same way as those who enslaved, lynched, raped, beat, disenfrachised us? And as an educator, what am I to do about it?

I dont know. But I know whwat I can do about me... So I said Farewell to Nigger. Because a nigga is not who I see in any of us.

Parle vous francais??

NO! But I sure did take my black self to France!!!! Not on some James Baldwin, Leotyne Price, Marian Anderson stuff. I wasnt looking for artistic freedom or an escape from the racial oppression of the United States. I was going to be a tourist!! To "oooooooooooooooooooo and aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" my way through Gay Paris (shut up). And I saw it all.. and this will be the first of my ignant rants that I dont need anyone to check me on about how politically incorrect they may be or how close minded I am... I got it.. generalizations and stereotypes are unfair to everyone... moving on...

1. The French are fucking rude! Not in a cuss you out way that I find ignant black folks to be rude. Or the "Psssssst.. Ay Girl" way I find niggas on the street to be. Or even in the roll your eyes, suck your teeth way that make me despise my students. They are rude in the.. sure I'll say "si'l vous plais" and "merci beaucoup" "monssuier/madame" all friggin day.. But they will also damn near wanna kill you if you dont speak french...and then will scoff when you confirm you are an american.."Of course." as if every Chinese, English and Romanian tourist that comes to the friggin City of Lights comes with a fluent French tongue! ahhh But that wasn't even the worst.. Whatever.. I will point to the menu or let Joanna do the talking.. God Bless the US of A!! The worst was the bumping.. the constant bumping of people into me as I walked down the street.. Rush hour in Manhattan is no less busy than on the Champs Elysees, yet somehow my fellow Americans (for the most part) respect my desire to have total control over the movement of my body parts and refrain from pushing, shoving, tapping, touching, fondling (that happened) me in every street, avenue, restaurant, line, etc. And without even the "my bad," "excuse moi" "sorry".. its hard to not be bitter...


You look up and see the Arc de Triomphe and realise you are in FRIGGIN PARIS FRANCE!! My grandparents moved to Chicago to make us a better life, well. Their parents moved to give them a better life cause it was the teens and they were just tots... but the Great Migration was truly great for our family. Growing up during the Depression, while my grandmother raised her five children, she always made sure they had tons of non-perishable goods "just in case" and so my mother has cabinets full soup, sauces, beans, pasta etc.. and so do I.. every cabinet is full in my tiny one bedroom.. because I don't ever wanna run out either. But standing under the Eiffel Tower, I am far away from the war rations and canned goods that have influenced our Copeland sensibilities. My grandmother couldnt go to college, because despite her scholarship, they didnt have money to send her down to Atlanta, but there I was on the other side of the ocean, seeing things that she had only read about or seen in books. I think I might be the American Dream. I didn't have any bootstraps to pull, but my grandmother clung to hers hard, giving my mother a wonderful upbringing, making her a first generation college graduate. I can only imagine the excitement my grandmother felt when my mother made the Copeland's college grads.. and there I was making us international... So it meant alot to me to be there, and to trailblaze because my mom took it one step, and I am taking one step further... and it just gives infinite possibility to mine...

And here's to more Frenchies bumping into me, and getting bad sleep in one of those boxes in Japan, eating new things that are really bad.. and doing big things to live my American Dream.

To Be Continued...