Municipal Utility Customer Service

oooohhhh an acronym... MUCS

Somehow? That acronym?


Apologies if you are the municipal counsellor type. There are a few of you here. You know who you are. This is for a joke, not a complaint. You’re doing a great job. Keep going.

On hold

It was gross. 

Very gross. 

Unbelievably gross.

I hadn’t felt yucky like that in a while.

And lately? I have little tolerance for that sensation.

That yucky feeling of being on hold.

It yucks the gross right out of me.

That’s right.

It yucks the gross right out of me.

Say it outloud.

Yucks the gross right out of me.

Glah! That phrase? That really captures the staccato, lurching nature of the sensation.

Yucks the gross right out of me.

Use this phrase somewhere. 

(tell them you picked it up from Jim Dalling, Author of the Book of Wrong Answers Volume 1 (there are others coming and there are further book developments to discus but perhaps not as an aside here) [i may have messed up the brackets]

On hold

Oh that feeling.




The tension?

The tension.

They create it.

The entire experience is designed to make you hang up.

Even if they have agents ready and waiting, it’s cheaper to keep you on  hold for a bit before you get through. (they don’t actually want you thinking that if you call, you just might reach someone on the first ring. Then what? Make that the new reality for customer service and try to exceed it? Lower the bar. Lower expectations. Train and tame the noise of complaints, complications and late payments screaming anxiously into the organization.


And there I was for several songs of trilling flutes.

It was like they were singing to me the way kids on the playground might when they’re hoping to make someone cry.

Kids are terrible. They try to make each other cry.

The songs while on hold sounded like kids trying to make each other cry. It was as though, each note a syllable in We don’t want to talk to you, we don’t want to talk to you… Given the extensive budgets of local municipal utilities, I’m still unsure as to why they resort to mockery in customer service. 

Each song had a flute line. All these flute lines. All sounding different enough to be known as ‘songs’ but essentially the same. After the ‘We don’t want to talk to you’ song, the flute tooter tooted out Maybe next times your turn maybe next times your turn maybe next times your turn…

Not long after? 

That lunging, hungry moment when you hear the song sharply cut out

And then a voice: Almost human. Like if a human were still a human but were wrapped up in tin foil and shouted into a bucket sounding. Jarring. Uncomfortable.

And ultimately?


Please continue to hold said the voice from the bucket.

We don’t want to talk to you, chimed in the flute tooters.


The sinking feeling inside. The voices of the flute tooters become the voices in your head.

You’re on hold.

It’s painful.

It sucks.

Waiting for someone on the other end to pick up. 

Waiting to talk to someone that you need something from. 

Waiting for a gatekeeper to let you in.

Waiting for something beyond your control to change. 

On hold.

The pain of being told It’s not your turn.

Right now?

A lot of us know that feeling.

Right now?

A lot of life is on hold.


For many of us, 

We’ve been on hold for a while.

For many of us, 

We’ve put ourselves on hold

And kept ourselves there with a story.

What story do you use to keep yourself on hold?

One Derful Thing

Hold this.

In the restaurant business we had a favourite gag to play on the new, teen aged bus staff. We liked to send them to the bartender next door.

We’d tell them there was a large group coming in and we needed a long stand. We’d say, go ask the bartender next door for a long stand.

They would do our bidding. The bartender next door? He’d give them a long stand. Sometimes they might end up standing there up to an hour if we weren’t busy in our place. Standing waiting for an hour? That’s a long stand.

So today, either in your house, at work or even at a grocery store, try this game.

Have something in your hand that you don’t want - like a can of beans.

Give it to someone with the instruction: Here. Hold this.


Walk away.

Notice the sensation that comes from leaving it with someone else.

Bonus track.

I now realize that this doesn’t do the infinite scroll thing.

I don’t blame it on sunshine. I don’t blame it on moonlight.

I don’t blame it on the good times.

I blame it on the boogie.

I just can’t control my feet.