I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 199 - The Art of Complaining

Daily Kup (My Life as a Gainfully Unemployed Person)
Same paint, different day (SPDD). Foreign countries have factories full of six-year-olds who can caulk better than I can. Looks like I'll finish the last siding section on the front of the house tomorrow if I get an early start.

Complaining for fun and profit
Yesterday's victory that resulted in the local recall of dangerous and shoddy electronic devices given to children as part of a school fundraising campaign got me thinking about what makes an effective complaint.

If the sole purpose of the complaint is to cater to whatever your psychological problem is or to push someone else's buttons, then we all know how to do that without further analysis. If, on the other hand, the desired outcome is more tangible than inducing general mayhem, these steps will help:

1. Define in your own mind what the desirable or minimally acceptable resolution would be. The proposed resolution should be reasonable and of equal scale with the problem. For example, the response to receiving an improperly packaged order will not reasonably be free products for a lifetime; an apology, overnight shipment of an undamaged replacement part and free return shipping for the damaged part would be a reasonable minimally acceptable resolution for this situation.

2. Don't waste your time with underlings; go directly to the level of the employee who has the authority to approve what you are going to ask for. Keep track of whom you talk to and the date and time.

3. Start by being nice, if only in a no-nonsense way. You can always go crazy later, but it's hard to dial back if you've started with histrionics. It can be effective to appear as though you are struggling with your emotions, but don't lose control. "Control" is almost like a form of matter; it is not created nor destroyed, merely redistributed. If you lose control, someone else gains control, keeping the balance constant in the universe and putting you at a distinct disadvantage.

4. Be concise. Focus on what is wrong, how you are affected by it, and what you want someone to do about it. Say specifically what you want the outcome to be. Silence can be very powerful. Make your case and then be quiet. Occasionally restate the resolution that you are seeking if the conversation moves off topic even if that makes you sound like Forrest Gump. Repetition and consistency are the keys.

5. Document everything in writing when at all possible. Stick with observable facts and limit subjective opinion. For added oomph when you want to be sure and make an impression, cc: a governmental entity, press or media, or your lawyer. My personal favorite softball move is to cc: 'Legal file - {issue name}. If the contact asks, say that you like to be organized and this mechanism helps you keep everything related to this issue together "if case I need it."

6. Make it clear that you are not going to go away. This can be as simple as stating how and when you will be following up. Then be sure to do it.

7. If it's time turn up the heat, notify your contact that you have been regrettably forced to escalate the issue. Then go up the ladder or out to a government agency, a TV station's tip line, or a professional or community organization. The Attorney General in my state has an online complaint form and they are required to follow up on any submission. A phone call from the AG's office can do wonders. It's not like having a 60 Minutes camera crew waiting in the lobby, but it's a good choice for severe and legitimate issues.

8. When you get your successful result, be gracious and thank the contact. This is not the time to continue to kick them, appealing as that sounds.

Da-Dew-Run-Run-Run, Da-Dew-Run-Run

Another day without my cup. This photo appeared in my mailbox this afternoon. One of my suitcases is also missing.

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