Friday, March 02, 2007

Stuart shrugged?

No. Stuart did not shrug. Stuart got all huffy and stomped out.

I’m deeply involved in Atlas Shrugged at the moment and by now I feel that everybody I speak too should somehow know exactly who Dagny Taggart is and what color Rearden Metal is. I think the book is excellent, much better than I thought it would be. I expected the basic philosophy but I didn’t expect the plot to be interesting and exciting.

The baddies in the book are caricatures and I wouldn’t expect their real world counterparts (professors in humanities faculties for example) to feel any pangs on reading the book, but I really think there’s a lot of truth in what she says about them.

My experience in the bank yesterday and this morning was straight from the pages of Atlas Shrugged. People will give any old answer to get you off their back. I spent several hours yesterday trying to comply with their “requirements” for opening up a new account. The instructions were very specific, I got them to repeat it three times, I pointed out that the web site said something different and I confirmed these requirements with another employee. Having followed the instructions to the letter I find out that not only are they “wrong” they are wildly, laughably wrong.

I should have known better; I've been though exactly this sort of thing before; I’m an idiot. But surely it's not completely unreasonable to expect verbal exchanges with employees to carry some meaning? ANY meaning??!! How can they simply not give a shit when they knowingly speak complete and utter shit? When their words result in another human being wasting hours of their lives -hours which are worth something- how do they fucking live with themselves?

P.S. While Ayn Rand would hate these bank employees, I doubt she would prefer someone starting a humanities masters in their eighth year of university.

5 comments:

Tracy Leigh said...

It's absolutely awful, yet totally predictable in South Africa. This type of infuriating inefficiency is one thing that motivates me to move to the U.S. From what I've heard things are done much more quickly and reliably there.

What I wonder is, what are the thoughts, intentions and knowledge of these clerks? Do they: * think they're right even though they're not (ignorant), or, * know they're wrong but couldn't be bothered to find out the truth, (bullshitters) or * straight lying to you just for fun (malevolent liers).

These are all pretty bad qualities to have!

Swart Donkey said...

South Africa has one of the best Financial Services Industries in the world. There are a number of areas where we lead first World Countries. An example being that South Africa introduced the ATM some 10 years before England.

As for service... yup, Stu had a kak experience. One of the joys of capitalism is that more than likely he will be pissed off with his bank and move to another one recommended by friends. (Shameless marketing - Old Mutual Bank was voted the best Bank for service last year)

Fact of the matter is that even if the bank is well known for excellent service, you often get employees who couldn't give a s**t. Working as a teller is hardly a stimulating job. (as an aside, Stu... why don't you start a post for comments on the 10 Worst Possible Jobs... One possiblility is cleaning toilets at a nightclub frequented by drunken students).

Often people doing these basic admin jobs are temporary workers. As such I would guess it is not unusual to find as many as a third in their first couple of months. They don't know eveything. I think the biggest problem here is two-fold. People don't like to admit that they don't know eveything, and secondly, when dealing with service people we expect them to know everything.

Call Centres are another example... they are bound to piss you off. Seeing behind the scenes, I realise how painful it must be to work there, and how poorly remunerated they are. As temps, they have little incentive to keep you as a customer, and very little loyalty to the company they work for. And I think you will find this to be the same world wide, and South Africa definitely doesn't have anything to be ashamed about.

Admin pisses everyone off, and yes it would be great if graduates who cared deeply for your time worked all the basic jobs... but they don't... anywhere in the world... and it would be a great pitty if this was used as part of the `***k South Africa, I am going to where the grass is greener' school of thought.

stuart said...

Firstly, this post was intended as a general rant about people stealing my time from me for no reason; the message is the same all over the world. I went through exactly the same thing in England.

“South Africa has one of the best Financial Services Industries in the world”

Whoa! Ok, perhaps it’s better in some respects than others.

“the joys of capitalism is that more than likely he will be pissed off with his bank and move to another one recommended by friends”

Yeah… my impression is that the market is not especially free and the banks are not especially competitive, people have horror stories from every bank, I moved to ABSA over a spat with Standard Bank, but perhaps I’m wrong about this.

Rest of comment:

I imagine this is just evidence of my innate evil but I am not especially sympathetic to temps in this kind of job. I did this kind of job for a year as a temp. Sure, other employees had a better deal but I still think of my life in London as pretty sweet.

I don’t really care if their job sucks or that they’ve just started; I don’t want them to know everything and I don’t believe things would be better if smart graduates beavered away at admin jobs. The problem could be solved by strong social norms frowning on employees lying through their fucking teeth and strong moral conviction that doing your job is honorable. Failure in either of these regards should result in instant firing (and execution if possible). Give workers a raise, fine, but also make it clear that they’re not doing you any favors by working for you.

stuart said...

Firstly, this post was intended as a general rant about people stealing my time from me for no reason; the message is the same all over the world. I went through exactly the same thing in England.

“South Africa has one of the best Financial Services Industries in the world”

Whoa! Ok, perhaps it’s better in some respects than others.

“the joys of capitalism is that more than likely he will be pissed off with his bank and move to another one recommended by friends”

Yeah… my impression is that the market is not especially free and the banks are not especially competitive, people have horror stories from every bank, I moved to ABSA over a spat with Standard Bank, but perhaps I’m wrong about this.

Rest of comment:

I imagine this is just evidence of my innate evil but I am not especially sympathetic to temps in this kind of job. I did this kind of job for a year as a temp. Sure, other employees had a better deal but I still think of my life in London as pretty sweet.

I don’t really care if their job sucks or that they’ve just started; I don’t want them to know everything and I don’t believe things would be better if smart graduates beavered away at admin jobs. The problem could be solved by strong social norms frowning on employees lying through their fucking teeth and strong moral conviction that doing your job is honorable. Failure in either of these regards should result in instant firing (and execution if possible). Give workers a raise, fine, but also make it clear that they’re not doing you any favors by working for you.

Swart Donkey said...

I don't disagree