I love complaining, but real grownups know a letter is just the beginning
Complain, me? Plus Crossword and Quiz
“Dear Sir/Madam, I am writing to complain about the bins.” Ah, adulthood. It sure comes at you fast. One minute you’re staying out all night with your friends, the next, you’re spending Friday evenings writing furious letters to the council about refuse collection or ranting to a company’s head office.
I love a complaint letter, though. I get a real kick out of them. My logical brain knows they’ll go straight into a bin, but when I’m writing them, my heart soars.
“Hehehe,” I think as I’m typing, “I’ll show them.”
I imagine the recipient reading it, their brow furrowing as their jaw drops to a gasp. “Quick!” they’ll say, jumping to their feet so everyone in the office can see them. “Someone, read this! What are we going to do?!” Few letters have such power – maybe one from the White House, or one of those ransom notes made with cutouts of magazine headlines – but my letter saying I may speak to the local paper and even trading standards, well, that’s sure to set the world alight.
Of course, I wouldn’t actually do either of those things, because my complaining abilities stop at letters. I can’t bear phones, and face-to-face I’m even worse, backing down at the first sign of resistance. Not like my very, very English boyfriend, for whom complaints seem to be a sport. He’s good at them, too, winning more often than not. His greatest strength? Endurance.
Take the local council office, seemingly an entire citadel designed with deflecting complaints in mind. There’s the queue to take a ticket to join the main queue: that weeds out the weakest complainers. Then there’s the main queue itself, a slow-moving slog in which queuers are ground down by the sound of shouting patrons at the front; a glimpse into the pain to come. There’s the massive clock staring down at you, which always seems deafeningly loud, reminding you of how much time you’ve lost and will never get back (“Cut your losses and leave,” it insinuates with every tick).
By now only the most dedicated have made it to the area of reckoning. This is the greatest test of your fortitude.
You must hold your nerve – not scream, not shout – while the person at the desk rigorously gaslights you, speaking to you as if you’ve lost all your faculties (“Are you sure you sent this paperwork off ?”)
I see my boyfriend as he staggers out of the town hall, his eyes squinting against the sun, broken, weak, but victorious. He clutches the parking permits valiantly. He did it! He survived the council office. I could learn a l lot from him