By: Patrick Maguire
Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame
[This post is long overdue, but I couldn't let this issue go by the boards without addressing it.]
It was only a matter of time. Until now, a handful of ill-informed, entitled assholes would drop hints, or direct threats, to service industry providers, about negative online reviews if they didn’t get preferential treatment. [Hello, 'elite' Yelpers.] The epitome of entitled arrogance and douchebaggery has now reared it’s ugly head in the form of a faux black Amex card called the ReviewerCard, that some customers are plunking down before engaging in a service industry transaction.
The premise? Blackmail. Despite anemic PR attempts to disguise it, that’s what it is, a modern-day sword of damocles, with cardholders threatening service providers who don’t play along with their ill-conceived, disingenuous schemes.
This is, of course, wrong on many levels and is an example of how the culture of amateurism that was once one of the Internet’s more endearing qualities has become a free-for-all unburdened by any thought of ethics or moral integrity.
Newman hopes his ReviewerCard will become as influential as the American Express black card — a totem of the bearer’s clout and achievement.
I can only hope that businesses see it for what it is: a shameless bid to extract personal favors under threat of Internet ruin. I can only hope they politely inform ReviewerCard holders that they’re entitled to the same treatment as all other customers.
On January 24th, I sent the following message to the ReviewerCard website message center:
My name is Patrick Maguire. I write a blog advocating for service industry professionals. I’d like to interview the founder of ReviewerCard for a blog post I am working on.
On 1/31, I received the following response from Brad Newman:
Hope all is great. My bad for the delay in responding, as we’ve been overwhelmed with interest in the ReviewerCard. Are you still writing a blog piece? Here is a release that went out this week:
By: Patrick Maguire
Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service
Leave it to an 8-year-old to simplify what most of the world longs for.
President Obama followed a contingent of speakers, representing multiple religious faiths, who gave the sermons of their lives today. In his speech, Mr. Obama included the message, “No More Hurting. Peace”, written on a piece of construction paper, with drawings of two hearts, by Eight-year-old, Martin Richard, from Dorchester, MA, who died as a result of the bombing attacks on Marathon Monday.
We all have iconic memories of where we were during life-changing events. My memory of the afternoon of 2/15/13 will be of sitting at the counter of Brazilian-owned, Theo’s Cozy Corner in the North End of Boston, reading my paper, listening to the inane banter of the daily gathering of old-timer, Italian men screaming at each other. Above the raucous din, I heard one of the veterans shouting about an explosion, while pointing to the Boston Marathon on TV. After the volume was turned up, we all witnessed the horrific events unfold.
After leaving Theo’s, I spent the next couple of hours glued to the TV with my co-workers in Downtown Boston, until I couldn’t take seeing the same videos and images over and over. I was disgusted, frightened, angry, and sick to my stomach. On Tuesday, I walked from the North End to the South End, witnessed the military camp on Boston Common, the throngs of reporters near the Public Garden and on Dartmouth street, and the beefed-up security everywhere. The city was reeling — somber, mournful, and eerily quiet. Without any arrests, there were more questions than answers, and we were drifting.
Today marked a turning point in the healing process for our city. President Obama visited Boston and attended an interfaith healing service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. After listening to the uplifting speeches today, hope is finally beginning to replace horror. I was so moved by the speeches given today, that I am on a mission to get the transcript and video of each one, post them here, and share my favorite excerpts from each. I’d also like to find a link with a video of the entire service. Every American should watch a video of the healing service in its entirety.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional links that you are aware of. This will be a fluid post, with ongoing updates. I’m grateful for your help.
For the full transcript of each speech, please click on the list of names below.
In my faith tradition, scripture teaches: “In every thing give thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) That isn’t always easy to do. On Monday afternoon, I wasn’t feeling it. What I felt, what so many of us felt then, was shock and confusion and anger…
I’m thankful for the firefighters and police officers and EMTs who ran towards the blasts, not knowing whether the attack was over – and the volunteers and other civilians who ran to help right along side them…
I’m thankful for Mayor Menino, who started Monday morning frustrated he couldn’t be at the finish line this time, as he always is, and then late that afternoon checked himself out of the hospital to help his city, our city, face down this tragedy…
I’m thankful for the lives of Krystle and Lingzi and little Martin, and for the lives of the families who survive them, and for the lives of all the people hurt but who still woke up today with the hope of tomorrow…
And I am thankful, maybe most especially, for the countless numbers of people in this proud City and this storied Commonwealth who, in the aftermath of such senseless violence, let their first instinct be kindness. In a dark hour, so many of you showed so many of us that “darkness cannot drive out darkness,” as Dr. (Martin Luther) King said. “Only light can do that.”…
Massachusetts invented America. And America is not organized the way countries are usually organized. We are not organized around a common language or religion or even culture. We are organized around a handful of civic ideals. And we have defined those ideals, through time and through struggle, as equality, opportunity, freedom and fair play…
An attack on a civic ritual like the Marathon, especially on Patriots’ Day, is an attack on those values. And just as we cannot permit darkness and hate to triumph over our spiritual faith, so we must not permit darkness and hate to triumph over our civic faith. That cannot happen. And it will not.
(Excerpts to follow.)
Lastly, the section below is dedicated to all of the genuine, meaningful and thoughtful gestures and events across America and the world, in support of Boston. Again, please email any submissions you’d like to recommend. Thank you.
National Anthem Boston Garden
Rene Rancourt has been singing the National Anthem for the Boston Bruins for 37 years. On Wednesday night, the first Boston sporting event since the attack, Mr. Rancourt was happy to step aside and play director as the choir of Boston Garden fans performed the ritual for him. If these videos don’t move you, you have no soul.
By: Patrick Maguire
Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement
My blog posting sabbatical is over. Lots more to follow soon.
I posted something similar to the following on Yelp Talk Boston yesterday:
I cringe when restaurateurs say, “I hate Yelp,” but I get it. They really hate the members of the community who don’t take their responsibility seriously. Yelpers who are uninformed and unfair give the powerful medium a bad name. Many posters exaggerate, embellish and lie, with no regard for their impact on the livelihoods of hard-working people. And unfortunately, the administration and moderation of many amateur sites, especially Yelp, is inept at weeding out the garbage.
[Yes, it's long, but please read the entire piece before joining the conversation below. It's great commentary.]
My favorite quote from Mc Slim’s post is included on his list of, “Common problems with amateur reviews,” where the reviewer:
“Betrays a lack of human empathy, often expressed by a condescending tone toward the staff. The reviewer doesn’t appear to have ever considered what it would be like to have strangers rating him on his annual job performance based on a single 90-minute meeting.” Touché.
Unless we continue to initiate, support, and contribute to these conversations, the proliferation of cowardly and irresponsible amateur reviews will continue. It’s worth the fight.
There are some thoughtful comments in response to Mc Slim’s piece on a separate Chowhound thread.
The Chowhound poster, ‘Tiamat’, decries the use of, ‘Enjoy!’, when a server delivers a dish. Here’s an excerpt:
“Don’t serve me a plate and smile then order me to ‘Enjoy!’ You can tell me you hope that I enjoy it, You can ask if it appears to my liking. Better, you can come back three or four minutes later and ask if I am enjoying the dish. Please DON’T command me to like it.”
Fuck off, Tiamat.
I posted Tiamat’s rant on Server Not Servant Facebook Page, and added the following comment:
I think you’re being a nitpicking asshole if you take issue with someone saying, ‘Enjoy.’ I agree with the poster who called the OP (Tiamat) out on Chowhound and said, “I see the ‘Enjoy’ as the shortened, ‘I wish you enjoyment’, not as a commend. I read it in the same vein as, ‘Bon appetite’ or ‘buen provencho’.” — Exactly!!!
Yes, these people are easy to hate, and stop smiling…
[Join the Server Not Servant conversation on Twitter @PatrickMBoston]
By: Patrick Maguire
Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service
Thanksgiving is, by far, one of my favorite days of the year. I treasure the time spent breaking bread with my sister, Colleen Conceison, her husband, Bob, their children, Bobby Jr., MK (Mary Kathryn), Chrissy, Paul, and Bridgett, Bob’s niece, Kara, and anyone else who joins us. Our post-meal discussion always evolves into an opportunity to share what we are thankful for as we reflect on the previous year.
This year, my 24-year-old niece, Chrissy, on break from her service with AmeriCorps, shared a story, and I requested permission to share it with all of you.
Prior to returning home for Thanksgiving, Chrissy had been working on disaster relief in New Jersey and New York following SuperStorm Sandy. I received the following email from Chrissy a few days later:
After working the night shift (7pm-7am) in one of the Long Island shelters, my two co-workers and I were spent. It was going on about day 4 of no shower so the idea of going to bed finally with no shower seemed disgusting.
Like an angel sent to us, a woman walked in the building wearing an Irish knit sweater. Donna was offering her home to anyone who wanted to shower. This woman was unlike any other “spontaneous volunteer” to come through our shelter. She is an RN at a local hospital and came with just her stethoscope wanting to help out the nurses. When she found out that no medical help was needed, she offered her home and a hot shower. She lived 5 minutes from the school and was affected by the storm, but she had her power back. She wanted to volunteer to give back to her own community.
We walked into her house and I saw Irish blessings all over, pictures of her children, pictures of her grandchildren, and a lot of trinkets. She kept saying to us, “Don’t worry girlfriends, I will hook you up.” She did just that. She gave us her towels, soap, shampoo, and a hot shower. Once my shower was over, I sat on her couch and just teared up with all sorts of emotions. She made us hot tea and I just sat and talked with her while the other two showered, and learned so much about her, her family, and then she asked about all of us.
We sat with her until we were ready to go back to the shelter. She walked us back and continued to help out in the shelter where she felt it was necessary. Before I went to bed I hugged her with eyes full of tears and she just said, “You’re doing a great job. Keep up the good work.” That little confidence booster from a random stranger meant more than anything.
I often think about Donna and the fact that she was so willing to open her house to 3 AmeriCorps members who were exhausted and hadn’t showered in days. She just wanted to help in any way she could, and decided opening her home was the best way to do it. She has taught me that random acts of kindness go a long way.
On Thursday, 12/13/12, Chrissy graduated from AmeriCorps and was chosen by her peers to speak at the commencement ceremony. Here is an excerpt of her speech from within her blog.
Today was graduation day… I had the honor of being emcee, or “Ameridictorian” as my friends called it, for the ceremony. This is my speech I submitted to get chosen to speak…
It is hard to put into words exactly what the experience in NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) has been like. The only couple of words that I can possibly think of would be, ‘life changing’.
We started on February 27th where we entered a world that immediately I thought was MTV’s The Real World. We were strangers, picked to be in a program where people stop living their real life and start living in the ‘Ameriworld’, a world where real clothes were a thing of the past, and khaki and gray or green became something you wore, and wore it “looking good” daily.
Training could not have prepared us for what we were about to embark upon for the whole experience. Once we were assigned our permanent teams, we set out for our spikes (spikes are sites away from the main campus where teams establish temporary living arrangements for up to two months). Each day we were faced with adversity and we persevered. Our team became a family, a family that nobody else in the world would understand why. Spending each day together, working, eating, laughing, cooking, and dancing are experiences that cannot even be explained. You wouldn’t get half of the stuff each collective team went through unless you were on the team. I am forever changed because of the 8 members of my team, other team members, other team leaders, and our staff.
This program has taught me that when you think that you can’t, you can, and you realize you can because of your teammates. This program has taught me that no matter what is going on in your life, you will survive with the help of your team. This program has taught me that friendship goes beyond Massachusetts. Friendship is now in Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Delaware and every other state in the country.
Most importantly, this program has taught me that you have a family you are born into and a family you create for yourself. I can honestly say that I come from a large family, but now it has significantly grown because of this program. I would not change this experience, every tear, every laugh, every terrible singing and dancing session in the van, every fight, every ISP(Independent Service Projects), every home gutted, every trail blazed, every ride with Roe, every tire slashed, every glass block installed, every WPR (Weekly Progress Report), every piece of drywall installed, every sleeping situation and every day with my team and others, for anything. How do you sum up what I have experienced in NCCC into words? You can’t, you have to live it to understand.
I was so happy I got to address the Corps as emcee for the ceremony. It meant the world to me.
I have met some of the most amazing people in the last 10 months. I am forever changed by each and every person I have met in the last 10 months. I am so grateful I have a supportive family that allowed me to leave a full-time job making money, to be in a national community service volunteer program. I am so thankful for my best friends, 5 girls I can now NEVER live without. I am thankful for my team and the year we had together. The members of River Ten will forever hold a place in my heart.
Tonight is the last night in Vicksburg (MS), our little community. I remember the night before I left home, we all googled Vicksburg and I was more nervous because of what I saw, different things than Burlington (MA). Weird. Now, I am in love with our little city. The sunsets, the Mississippi river, Highway 61 Coffee, The Tomato Place, Biscuit Company, Duff’s, Roe’s Cab service, and especially the Southern Region Campus. You can’t really explain this to anyone. I love the south, and I am moving the second I find work down here.
As I reflect on the last 10 months, I am realizing I am a totally different person than I was in February. I am happier, more open-minded, more skilled, and my cooking is at it’s prime. I really am trying my best to think of a good way to sum up what I am feeling, and what I have experienced the last 10 months, but I am at a loss for words. This program has meant the world to me and I am so happy that I joined. I will forever be an AmeriCorps member, and I will try my hardest to “get things done” even outside of my “A” uniform…
…I am going to end this post with a quote that was read at graduation, but is one of my absolute favorites. I thought about it a lot while in the program, and it has helped me through some of my days where I wanted to quit.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss
Thank you, Donna, for exemplifying the importance of “spontaneous volunteerism”, and kindness.
Welcome home, Chrissy. Congratulations, and thank you for your tremendous service to our country. I am so proud of you, and love you very much.
Server Not Servant readers, please join the conversation, and share your experiences of how “spontaneous volunteers” have helped you with acts of kindness. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can turn our world around and restore our faith in humans. Thank you.
By: Patrick Maguire
Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service
I have great childhood memories of spending many summer days on the Jersey Shore. My dad grew up in Atlantic City, and my mom is from Margate.
Feeling a bit nostalgic today after reading the stories in The Boston Globe and The New York Times about all of our brothers and sisters in New York, New Jersey and beyond who are struggling in the wake of Sandy. A text I received today from my cousin, Mickey Maguire, on Ravine Drive in Matawan, New Jersey inspired this post.
Before Sandy hit, Mickey picked up his spry, and very feisty, 91-yr old mom (my Aunt Marie) from her home on North Chelsea Ave. in Atlantic City and brought her to his home in Matawan to ride out the storm. My dad grew up in the same home on North Chelsea Ave. After the storm, I spoke with Mickey on his cell, then subsequently relayed an email to my siblings, that included the following:
As you know, Atlantic City suffered serious damage, and there is currently no access in or out. They won’t know the extent of the damage to Aunt Marie’s home for a while. Flooding in the basement is a given. Mickey can’t get to work yet in NYC, for obvious reasons.
Mickey and Beth’s home is without power, and the best estimate is another 7-10 days before it is restored. They are all safe, a bit chilly, but in good health. They are keeping warm by turning on the gas stove. Their home is surrounded by large trees, but only 1 of them went down, without damaging their home.
Mickey was losing juice on his phone, so we couldn’t talk long. He’s charging his phone using his car. He did want me to mention that they had a “Hurricane Party” last night with some of the neighbors, Aunt Marie had a few highballs, and Mickey enjoyed a bourbon or 2… You can’t keep us down!
Unfortunately, the news got worse when Mickey and his Mom were able to return home to Atalntic City on Saturday. I received the following text last night, 10/3, at 10pm:
Went to AC today. Mom’s roof blew off. Water in 2 bedrooms, dining room and kitchen. Heater and hot water heaters shot. Basement apartment totalled. Car totalled. Mom will be with us for the foreseeable future. We still have no power (Matawan), but are able to keep the back of the house in the low 70’s with the stove. Kerosene lamps work great. She (Mom) is upset but dealing with it. We registered with FEMA.
And then an update today from Mickey via text at 3:10pm today:
This morning our neighbor hardwired our gas furnace to his generator. We have heat! We contacted a roofer who is going to look at Mom’s roof tomorrow. Still no power, but heat ROCKS.
It sure does, along with everything else we take for granted. Mickey’s neighbor also rocks.
After my Mom died in 1993, we found a list among her personal belongings titled, Count My Blessings, and on the list of several things she was grateful for was “A nice shower.” (A hot shower was often hard to come by in a home with 12 people, one bathroom, and a small water heater.) That simple appreciation of the ‘little things’ resonates so strongly today. Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy for us to appreciate the simple things in life and to be kinder to each other.
I know a lot of people are suffering, frustrated and very upset at their circumstances right now as a result of the storm. Several have been devastated by loss of life, homes and businesses. However, there are also some tremendous stories emerging about generous people pitching in and helping each other with basic needs to survive. In the bigger scheme of things, nothing else really matters.
Sandiphilia is the condition of feeling empathy for one’s fellow man and woman, brought about by a catastrophic storm that takes lives and destroys property. It has been on full display for the last week and — at risk of sounding callous — one almost wishes events like this could happen more frequently, if only to remind us of our common humanity.
I reflected on this ‘temporary state’ in the Human-to-Human Service chapter in my forthcoming book:
The Blizzard of ’78 was a great human equalizer that rendered everyone powerless, and left many people stranded. Job titles, net worth, egos and diplomas didn’t matter. Everyone was equally helpless for a few days. Some people relied on total strangers for survival, and some people died, regardless of their social status. The storm fostered a camaraderie and cooperation nearly everyone embraced . Eventually, the strong bond faded as ‘reality’ crept back into our lives.
I thought about the transition from a galvanized, inclusive community back to ‘normalcy’ a lot after The Blizzard of ’78. It bothered me that people could be so good to each other when the playing field was level, and then gradually revert back to their old ways. I know it’s idealistic to expect people to act exactly the same way that they do during extraordinary times, but it sure would be nice if they could come close. Unfortunately, people have short memories.
It shouldn’t take extreme weather, music, disabilities, food, religion, nature, tragedy, common interests, politics, violence, art, babies, sickness, dogs, hardship, religion, ethnicity, death, sports, natural disasters, film, trauma, science, war, holidays, smoke breaks, cancer, or an attack on our country to unite people, and to remind us how amazing, fragile, and short life really is. Unfortunately it does. People slip back to their ‘old ways’ until the next shared celebration or crisis hits.
Great human equalizers, like natural disasters, make people reach out and take care of each other, and they restore your faith in people. They make total strangers realize that they have a lot in common, and that we truly are “all in this together.” I’ve been referring to this phenomenon as “The Blizzard of ’78 Effect” ever since the big storm. It shouldn’t take a snowstorm for people to be nice to each other.
I hope the generousity, goodwill, empathy, and spirit of cooperation that is helping so many people survive right now, continues long after power is restored and the cleanup and rebuilding is complete. Thank you to everyone who is working tirelessly on rescue missions, and in every other effort to provide food, water, shelter and supplies to everyone who is in need.
Sending love to Aunt Marie, Mickey, Beth, their families, neighbors, friends, and everyone impacted by the storm. Love your spirit. Keep the faith.