The Frustration Bureau - By Brian Law

“Good Morning, this is The Frustration Bureau. I’m Betsy, your assistant today. How may I help you?” 

A tentative male voice came on the line, “I’m, uh, a first-time caller. Are these calls recorded or anything?” 

Betsy cheerily replied, “We do record all conversations for quality control purposes. But I assure you anything you say will be kept in strict confidentiality, sir.” 

“Okay. And if I tell you my major frustration, what do you do with that information, Betsy?” he asked, a bit more confident. 

“First, you and I work together to develop a precise description of your frustration. Then I give you some suggestions and tips. But if that isn’t enough for you, I can enter your frustration into our database, give it a distinctive identifier, and our experts will then review it and get back to you via email about how they think you could best address your frustration,” Betsy proudly replied. 

“Look, uh, Betsy, is it? Let’s skip that second part, okay? I don’t want my email in your database. So, let me just describe my problem and maybe you can help me. God, I’ve never been so frustrated!” the voice answered in desperation. 

“That’s fine with me. I’m just a level-headed gal from the Midwest. Grew up on a farm in a large family so I have a lot of experience solving interpersonal problems. So, what is the gist of your frustration today?” Betsy asked. 

“Well, for most of my professional life, I’ve been my own boss or the boss of others. But in my new position, I have to take orders from a guy who’s a real jackass. He’s put me in charge of a big important project recently and I’ve staffed it up with the best people I could find. And we’ve developed some really terrific ideas and have presented these ideas to our customers.” 

“So, what seems to be the problem?” Betsy inquired. 

“Well, during our presentations, my boss just jumps in willy-nilly and makes outrageous statements without any basis in fact. It makes me look like a fool, undermines our ideas, and makes our customers nervous. And believe me, quitting is not an option nor is complaining to my boss. I’m at my wit’s end, Betsy.” 

“Is it possible to go over his head? You know, to his boss?” she suggested. 

“No.” 

“Okay, is it possible that customer dissatisfaction could become so great that your boss might lose his job in the near future?” she pondered. 

“Yeah, in a way. Yeah, that could happen. But I’d be out of a job, too. It’s not like I’d take over as boss,” he answered, a bit forlornly. 

“Well, all I can say is what a Kansas farm boy once said and I think it bears repeating here, sir. He said, 'Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field',” she added. 

She heard the man on the other end of the phone repeat that saying slowly, several times. After a moment he came back on the line and said, “You know, Betsy, I needed that. I’ve been away from my Midwest roots too long. I’m going to get my perspective back and dive back into my new project, crappy boss be darned!” 

The phone line went dead, and Betsy took a moment to make some notes in her call log. Her friend, a new employee, leaned over and remarked, “Uh, Betsy, you’ve never been on a farm in your life. You were born in Brooklyn, kiddo. Who are you trying to kid with that farm lingo, anyway?” 

“It was Mike Pence, again. He calls in about once a week, always trying to disguise his voice. We all just make up some shit to make him feel better. It seems to work for a while, anyway,” she replied. 

End

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