Torturing the Gatekeeper

We are a society ruled by the Id. We want what we want right now. I recently found myself working as a customer service rep in a call center. When a customer had an issue I could not resolve for him/her, he/she often would engage in aggressive and even threatening interaction with me. I was not Philip Force, but “Phil, Sales and Support Rep”, the face of my company to that customer. If my customer felt wronged in some way by my company, he/she had no problem seeking revenge on me. I once heard a rep reflect on a instance in which a customer threatened his life. The customer threatened, not only his life, but the life of his family. Why would someone find this to be justifiable? We have to look at their goal. It was not the original goal of the disgruntled customer to threaten this representative or his family. It was his goal to receive compensation from our company. The rep was simply the messenger. He was performing actions he was coached to perform. On several occasions answering the phone at this call center, I had customers treat me as means to an end. They didn’t have an issue with me until I started behaving as the face of the company they felt had done them wrong. Whether the company had failed or not is irrelevant. Why try to inflict pain on me, the person who is trying his best to help you? I believe people did this because, in their minds, I was the gatekeeper. I was standing between them and what they wanted.
I recall an incident with a girlfriend in which our landlord was taking longer than she had deemed reasonable to fix the refrigerator in our home. He had expressed to me that the repair man had canceled on him and that he was trying to reschedule. That night, in our new house she came into my office with strong anger in her tone. She told me the dishwasher wasn’t working and that I needed to call the landlord and give him an ultimatum: If everything wasn’t fixed within a week, we were going to take the inconvenience out of the rent. Because it was my name on the lease, it had been my job to to take care of any issues we experienced in the house. I don’t know why this had to be as he was happy to talk with either of us. I knew there would be no arguing with her. When she gets mad, it’s like arguing with a stone that has words engraved in the surface. No matter what I say, no matter what points I make, she is going to say the same thing she started the argument saying. I had recently asked her how to deal with her when she is angry like she was this night. She told me it was best to ignore her. After she made her demand, I said nothing. This only enraged her further. After I finished the school work I was working on, I went into the kitchen, flipped a switch on the wall, and turned on the dishwasher. When discussing this incident with her later, she defended her angry tone toward me and said she wanted me to be angry too. She wanted me to hurt the way that she hurt because she wasn’t getting what she wanted. I was standing in her way by not complying to her demands and she wanted the barrier I presented removed. The landlord delivered a new refrigerator that next day.
Let’s look at torture from a military standpoint for a second. Not too long ago, there arose some controversy over whether the United States government had used methods of torture in efforts to uncover information about “extremist” groups. These people who were allegedly being tortured were not the focus of the military’s efforts, but were the gatekeepers. They had information about the opposition and how to gain the desired result. All three of these occurrences would seem to be the product of the same thought process: “People can be used as the means to get what I want. If they are between me and what I want then It is justifiable to use them for my desired end result.”

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