Extremely Average #18: A Giddy Gander (Follow up to Gnashing Teeth)

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Blog entry by Ecocandle posted 01-20-2010 03:39 AM 1979 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 17: My Inconvenient Truth Part 18 of Extremely Average series Part 19: My Days as a Ninja »

Staring out across the frozen tundra that is Martelle in January, I began to apply layers of clothing to my frame, as protection against the bitterness. This, like many of my missives, is a complete exaggeration, it is actually around 25 degrees and not bitter at all. (Now, back to the story) Fearing certain death, or worse, disappointment, I took a pull of diet dew and was about to leave, when suddenly, much to my surprise, the familiar bong of an arriving email caught my attention.

In a previous episode, I had ranted at length about my order from The Taunton Press taking so long to arrive. I awaited 8 DVDs and 2 books on woodworking. My patience had been tested and each day of disappointment brought me to the edge of woe. It had been 4 days since I had blogged about my pain and mental anguish, and I was already getting on my high horse and mentally firing up my poison keyboard. The email made me dismount. Just to be clear, though I do live in rural Iowa, in a very small town, 280 people (as pointed out by a reader), I don’t actually have a horse. It is a metaphorical horse. Her name is Ginger.

So I got off Ginger, metaphorically speaking and opened the email. I was stunned, shocked, dismayed, and several other adjectives, which I can’t remember right now, but I knew they were there too.

The shock was so pervasive, that I didn’t even notice I had finished my diet dew. When finally the cloud of confusion lifted, I thought about the age we live in. Information is everywhere. We can spend our entire lives, twenty-four hours a day, reading and searching the web, and never fully grasp all that is there. It is for this reason that Twitter has thrived. It allows us to, with the help of others, find the good stuff. It has created a voice, a collective non-borg like voice, which helps us to see our world through the collective’s eyes, and take in its wonderment in ways never before imagined.

In the not too distant past, a grievance would be suffered in silence, or if really unbearable, a letter would be written. This might help to heal the wound, but the bitterness and anger would never really subside. We have all read about customer service and how if we do something well, our customers will tell 2 -3 people, but if we do something poorly, they will tell 5- 9. Today I realized that is outdated. The blog piece ‘Gnashing Teeth’ has, to date, been read 289 times. I have effectively told 32.1 times the number of people, which the old model would have predicted. And I had only been blogging for 2 weeks. Think about a disgruntled Tweeterer with 1 million followers, they truly have a booming voice in the cyber world.

But this sword cuts both ways, for as we can complain, so we too can praise. The email was from Patricia A. Williamson, the Vice President of Fulfillment. She was wonderful. She had tried to get in touch with me yesterday, by leaving a message on my phone. I had yesterday off, and spent the day fiddling around with some hard maple. I hadn’t noticed her message. When I read her incredibly kind and thoughtful email, I was turned from a grumpy goose into a giddy gander. (Ok, there wasn’t really any sort of gender change, but in order to stay with today’s alliteration them, I took some poetic license.) She had read my blog. I had thrown my voice out into the digital abyss, and my cries of frustration found their ways to Patricia. And she took action! My package is due to arrive sometime today. Patricia could have given the task of contacting me to an underlying. She could have stopped after leaving the message. She could have done nothing at all. What she did was to save me a trip across the thriving metropolis of Martelle, completely change my opinion of The Taunton Press, and give me a great idea for a blog.

Customer service matters. Business is a balancing act. In today’s environment the scales can be tilted in your favor or not. If you handle customer service correctly, you will have a flock of happy customers. And if you don’t, you will have an angry pack of blog eating your face off. (Note: That last bit was only funny if you have read ‘Gnashing Teeth’, and then only just barely.)

Thanks Patricia.

-- Brian Meeks,

5 comments so far

View Kacy's profile


101 posts in 3414 days

#1 posted 01-20-2010 05:09 AM

Actually, it is very much a borg-like voice, as implied by the last part of the sentence. But, I quibble.

-- Kacy, Louisiana

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3438 days

#2 posted 01-20-2010 05:25 AM

Excellent story as always Brian. One thing more than a couple lumberjocks here have discovered is that vendors do check out this site. Case in point, you really should read jockmike2's experience with Bostich. It is an excellent customer service story and goes to show you how seriously tool manufacturers and other woodworking related vendors take this community. I am glad you had an awesome customer service experience. Nice when those books and DVDs won’t leave a sour taste in your mouth when you use them.

Enjoy your woodworking and give Ginger an apple :)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3655 days

#3 posted 01-20-2010 06:51 AM

We had been trained to accept mediocrity (the multiplicity of McJobs?) to the degree that we felt it was inappropriate to complain and demand value. Then along comes a new generation, with tweeters twitting their lack of tolerance and showing us a new way of being heard. Good for all of us.

Readin’, writin’, arithematic
Twittin’ to the tune of a hickory stick….

Oh well, it sounded interesting in my head. And Hickory is a wood, so it could be considered apropos.

View Bill729's profile


241 posts in 3411 days

#4 posted 01-20-2010 09:21 AM

Brian, Well, I managed to get to the current end of this blog. I began in the middle and read from the beginning to the end. Perhaps it’s about time for me to say something? A curiosity I have seen you exhibit several times is about motivation. In the spirit of your blog, I will share my brief and most-modest story. Several years back I started acting upon my interest in making musical me, that represented a goal neer’ to magic. In time, I no longer wanted to ignore how little I knew about woodworking in general. I wanted to learn from the axioms, like you. And the rest seems to be (making my) history. Woodworking seems to be providing a nice walkway along “the road less-traveled”. Someday I’ll probably make the instruments I alluded to, but in the meantime I’m happy to work on my joinery and my sharpening (too). Since you obviously enjoy a challenge, I might suggest you choose an elusive goal in woodworking as you might take on an ellusive mathematical question (perhaps something like building a boat?), and just keep doing what you are doing! Have fun!


View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4490 days

#5 posted 01-20-2010 02:25 PM

another great blog
a really good point about the “tell two people who tell two people”.

Congrats re: happy ending – well nearly ended. We’ll be watching for the arrival of the treasures.

Good job Patricia.

(oh and good job for making the wheels move)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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