My friend Mike Schaffer was an hour late to work this morning. Sadly, that’s not unusual (and not because Schaffer is lazy, passive aggressive, or hates his alarm clock).
The problem is the city’s train system. Washington’s Metro system was poorly build, and it is managed even worse. So the line employees get all the grief, and many of the “white collar” staff seem little more than snarky and incompetent.
This exchange is typical:
@mikeschaffer this is a two-track rail system. It’s sensible in theory, but with the system built, what are the options?
— @wmata (@wmata) June 20, 2012
Really, that’s the best response? What happened to “I feel your pain?”
There’s a bigger problem: While the crankiness is universal, the impact is not always the same.
An hour late for some people is an inconvenience. But for others, it’s lost income.
@mikeschaffer It’s bad enough you are late to work, but what abt everyone on hourly wages? That’s rent money for lots of people. @wmata
— Daria Steigman (@dariasteigman) June 20, 2012
I don’t have advice for WMATA’s management team because, frankly, I don’t think they’d listen. But my takeways here are (1) snarkiness does nothing to diffuse a situation; instead it makes it harder for your front-line employees to do their jobs; and (2) the crankiness may be universal, but every customer’s pain point is not the same. Washington’s transit authority may have a relatively captive audience, but your customers have other options.
Photo by mRio (Flickr).