Because I constantly find myself doing completely random things (apparently I get bored quite easily), I participated in a management training simulation exercise for the World Bank Group along with some of my DMG cast mates last week.
Our job was simple: flex our finely-tuned acting muscles and play a variety of stakeholders that World Bank managers typically encounter in the field. Of course, because I’m me, I chose the most powerful role among the array of options: I played the passionate but cranky Minister of the Water Authority in the fictional country of Livonia.
As the day progressed, I found myself feeling more and more comfortable in the skin of this temperamental autocrat. I walked out of one meeting and demanded unreasonable answers from the bewildered managers in another. I shot ideas down and accused the poor staff (however unfairly) of being personally responsible for allegations of corruption circulating in the press about my administration.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the power trip, no matter how fake. And I’m afraid the dizzying megalomania hasn’t subsided.
In the past week, I’ve encountered some blatantly terrible customer service from Wachovia and Bank of America. (Bank of America was probably the worst offender. I am now officially actively campaigning against it: Bank of America sucks! There. That’ll show ’em!) And while “Archie, circa 2008” would have forgiven the misunderstandings and quietly accepted his fate, “Archie, post-Minister of the Water Authority role” is decidedly more vocal and harder to please.
I don’t think my level of assertiveness has changed much. I’ve always been willing to protest, to write a scathing but constructive letter, or to stand in the rain for hours for things that matter to me. But I think it’s my patience for gross incompetence and negligence that has shortened significantly. It might be a function of age, for all I know. I’m envisioning myself as a cranky old man demanding to see the manager at Starbucks and accusing him of discrimination because the store ran out of soy milk.
As someone who has been on the other end of the line of many irate phone calls, I shudder to think that I’ve become what I hated the most: A dissatisfied customer who just needs to vent to a poor, unfortunate soul and for whom no real workable solution is possible. I know that sometimes I really can’t do anything about stuff that goes awry. But you can pretty much bet that you’ll hear about why it sucks.