Sometimes I feel bad when I call a customer service representative. I am calling because I have an issue with the makers or supporters or advertisers or company that put its name on or near the product that has so recently begun to dissatisfy me. I am not calling to say, "Hey, nice job on this vacuum guys. It really sucks! In a good way." The reason for picking up the phone in the first place was to exact some sort of satisfaction from the nitwits who forgot to put the bag of screws in the box in the first place. Or raised the price of the service I have been using for years without bothering to notify me. Or sold me something that was defective, ineffective, or just plain useless.
I know that when I hear a voice on the other end of that line that they are wincing in anticipation of whatever it is that I have to say because that is why they were hired. This the job for which they have trained. They have the manual, the big binder of calm and rational explanations. They come equipped with soothing tones and concern for my well-being and self-esteem. The customer service person is there to bear the brunt of my dissatisfaction and to try and steer me back out of the rut that has me hating their company and all they stand for.
Which is why I generally open with something along the lines of, "I understand that none of what we are about to talk about is pretty much out of your personal control. You're going to have to listen to me rant and rave about something for which you have no responsibility other than your job which is to make me feel better." That being said, I launch into the previously announce rant and rave. When it's all over and the smoke clears, if this person has made a dent in my ire, or even managed to talk me off the consumer cliff on which I found myself in the first place, I feel better. I thank them for the catharsis and take quiet satisfaction in the time we spent hanging on the telephone.
This is why I feel a little bit bad for Sean Spicer. When he was growing up Rhode Island, he probably didn't harbor dreams of standing in front of a group of angry journalists looking for any angle to take the road too often traveled. He might have expected to take his bachelor's degree in government and go out to change the world. Instead of holding it at bay. When I watch Sean's face get all twisted up as yet another reporter asks, "What did the president mean when he said," or "Could you explain how this will actually work?" None of this was his idea.
He's just the customer service guy. And maybe, just maybe, under the circumstances he's doing the best he can with what he's got to work with. Does he deserve a break?