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:

 

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.

 

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).