Delivering a worthwhile complaint in an effective manner is an art and one we should all learn.
Because no matter who you are, having to listen and act upon complaints that are not worthwhile is a right royal pain in the arse.
I know, because my job seems to entail me being the all-welcoming receptacle of such complaints for about 90% of my working day. Now, most of the time, the complaints are what I’d call “fairly” valid – malfunctioning doors, broken urinals, electronic glitches, etc. Not world disasters by any stretch of the imagination but they need to be dealt with and all I have to do is receive them with a beatific smile and a Buddhist Monk’s composure and see that they are forwarded to the right people...
Unfortunately, despite my very best efforts, the odds of me achieving Nirvana under the officious auspices of my benevolent employer are becoming longer and longer. My smile is beginning to slip so far off my face my toes are starting to poke through it.
I am becoming sick of complaints.
And not just complaints directed at me but those that are directed at other people too.
Now I’m not talking about the big complaints – world poverty, fuel prices, the frightening number of children who are being abused and killed despite social services being “aware” of them, etc. No. No. These are big worthwhile complaints which deserve to be heard and should be amplified by as many people as possible so that they can be used as iron rods to give those in a position to do something about them a hard time.
But little inconsequential complaints are beginning to irritate me greatly. Possibly because they divert people away from the biggies.
Take the Russell Brand and Jonathon Ross debacle a couple of weeks ago. It was daft. It was silly. They were punished. Did it really warrant the sheer number of complaints that hit the BBC like a tidal wave? Didn’t these people who complained have other, far more weightier grievances that they could have spent their time and money complaining about?
The war in Iraq? The crumbling NHS service? No?
And now Jeremy Clarkson is facing a barrage of media boosted complaints for his gag about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes and for apparently giving an American cop the finger in last week’s episode of Top Gear.
Oh calamity! Let’s forget about the appalling number of youngsters who are dying in our towns and cities – victims of domestic physical abuse – and complain about Jeremy Clarkson for being good humouredly provocative instead. Far more worthwhile. Far more worthy of media coverage. Hold the front page! Call an emergency session of Parliament!
Don’t get me wrong. On the whole, complaints are good things. Having the confidence and the voice to complain is a valuable asset in the modern world. We need to teach our kids to complain about injustice and wrong doing in an attempt to stamp out such things in the future.
But let’s not squander this asset on trivia. Life is just too short. And for some poor souls – like 17 month old “Baby P”, horrifically beaten to death despite 60 separate visits from UK Social Services – it’s never going to be long enough.
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a complaint.