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You remember that robbery we had at the bank a couple weeks back? Well, this guy came into the bank today all dressed up, suit and tie and whatever, and came right up to my counter wanting to know all about it. He asked if I was there when it happened, and I said why are you asking – I thought he was an investigator or something, looking so well turned out – but he just said, great or good or super or something positive in a real chipper tone of voice. Then he put his briefcase on the counter, got a clipboard out and said, so, could I ask you a few questions?

It wasn’t busy, so I said, sure, and he said, so, thinking about the robbery two weeks ago, how would you rate your experience on a sliding scale from ten to one, ten being horrible, one being great, or words to that effect.

I said, what? are you kidding? but he just looked at me like he’d asked if I’d prefer the chicken or the lamb, so I said, I don’t know – five? And he ticked a box on his clipboard.

I said, what’s this for, and he didn’t skip a beat. He said, market research. I’ve been commissioned to find out how people feel about armed robberies, which I thought would’ve been pretty obvious, and I told him so, but he said: I know what you mean, but even bank robbers need feedback nowadays. Maybe it’ll be terrorists next asking things like, would you like us to bomb other buildings, like eyesores, to help you with your urban planning, I don’t know.

I had to laugh at that, and I told him to go on.

He said, so, on a sliding scale again, how safe did you feel during the process? I gave them a three because they were waving their guns about a lot even if they weren’t pointing them directly at anyone all the time. Then he said, how polite were they, again on a sliding scale, and I gave them a four, they swore a bit. To which he said: so, you’d like them to swear less? And I said, sure, though it would be better if they didn’t come and say anything at all, though that’s not going to happen, is it?

The guy said, no, probably not, and I said, if you want to know what I really think, I wish they were a bit calmer, that’s all. There’s no need to come in and shout. Everything’s insured. And the guy smiled and said, so if they’re calm and polite and don’t shout at anyone and make them nervous, build some sort of rapport with you, I don’t know, with jokes or something, then that’s best?

I said, yes, and he goes, well, thanks for your cooperation, and gives my hand a shake. Then he opens his suitcase, puts the clipboard in, pulls a gun out, and says, so, on a sliding scale from ten to one, how polite have I been?

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