As I may or may not have mentioned before, I used to work for a publisher, in their Customer Services team. It was a pretty good job, and I was pretty good at it.
It got more difficult shortly after I started, though, as they introduced a new ‘order fulfillment system’, which had a minor, niggling, teeny flaw – it was an active obstruction to getting books to customers. It tested my customer placating skills, I can tell you, and those of my colleagues alike – and one of those colleagues was my good friend Toby.
One day, Toby and I were in the kitchen at work, chatting.
“You watch,” he said, “at times like this – when things are utterly chaotic – people tend to focus on the small things, and try to control them.”
“Is that because they’re the only things they can control?” I asked.
“Exactly,” he said, and smiled knowingly.
A couple of days later, the manager of our department gathered everyone round. We hoped that he might be able to tell us that the (non)fulfillment system was being sorted out or replaced, but no: he smiled, and proudly told us they had new company mousemats for everyone.
Anyway, given that the general mood of the world is that an economic nightmare is inescapably descending on us all, and that it appears nothing is certain any more, I can’t help but wonder if this is why people seem a bit too keen to complain about things on TV; a way of taking back control, as it were. Ross and Brand,a two-year-old episode of Mock The Week, and now there have been complaints about an advertisement for the children’s charity Barnardo’s, and it’s been referred to the Advertising Standards Authority.
I’ve seen the advert a number of times (and I think it’s viewable here), and I agree that it contains unsettling and upsetting material. But that’s not what offends me – far more offensive to any ‘ordinary decent person’, surely, is the fact that in a supposedly civilised country, we even need charities such as Barnardo’s or Save The Children or the NSPCC?
Now, I’m all offended and upset by the idea that people might want to complain about – if not shoot – the messenger. Who do I get to call and register my complaint?