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Where Have You Gone, Joe Civility?

Empowering Connections?



APRIL 15, 2024

PILAR is on the phone in her apartment. She has questions about her account. She has been waiting for over thirty minutes when STEVE (not his real name), a representative from XYZ state tax entity, answers.


Good morning. I was wondering if you could help me.

I've been having a little trouble setting up my account.


What do you wanna know?


There's a drop down window that I can't access.


You gotta get online. Did you follow the instructions?


Yes I did. For some reason, when I get to step 3, it won't let me access the next of instructions.

I just need to figure out how to get this done.


(Steve scoffs)

Well you're not getting it done today so forget about it.

You should have thought about calling earlier in the month.


Excuse me? Look, it's not urgent. I just want to get the ball ro...


I can't help you. You're too late.


But's it's not...(She hears the phone click)

When did patience get taken off the menu for customer service? It seems civility, like tigers, are in danger of becoming extinct. Has it always been this terrible? What was with this Steve guy, with his supercilious, whiny voice and deliberate attempt to shame me? I know tax prep can stir up a lot of emotions. I probably should have told him I had asked for an extension weeks ago.

"It seems civility, like tigers, are in danger of becoming extinct."

Accidents can Happen

In March I was driving south on the highway towards Chapman University in Orange, CA to shoot a short film. Suddenly, with only two miles of warning, signs informed me I would be on a toll road. If I didn't have a transponder, I could get online within five days and pay. A week later I remembered and the charge was $106.75 but the fine was waived because, according to the website, it was my first time driving on that road. I put my credit card info where they asked and thought that was the end of that. This past Friday I received a bill from the toll company for $106.75, telling me I was delinquent. Hell hath no fury like a woman who gets over charged. I immediately got on the phone.



MAY 8, 2024

PILAR is waiting to speak to someone on the phone. She is in the middle of Los Angeles traffic. After fifteen minutes, Bill (another made up name) comes on the line.


Good morning, how can I help you?


I'm being charged even though I already paid.


I'm sorry but you have to pay the fine.


I don't understand. I gave the website my credit card details.


Yes. We have it on file.


I was under the impression that if I gave my credit credit details and got a receipt, that would mean I had paid.


Well ma'am, you didn't pay.


So, even though you have all my credit card information, I'm still getting penalized because the website wouldn't charge me?


Hold on a moment. I'm going to talk to my supervisor. Don't go anywhere.

(PILAR, sitting in her car at a standstill on the 405, looks at her phone, wondering where she would go. She sighs and takes a belly breath. Fifteen minutes later, Bill comes back on the line)


Sorry to keep you waiting. We're only going to charge you for the toll and the three day lapsed period so your total is $9.25.


Thank you Bill, I really appreciate it.


I'm keeping a list handy by my desk for the next time I have to call a service professional:

  1. Ask the representative on the phone for their name and write it down.

  2. Jot down the time you first start speaking with them.

  3. If they're rude, take a belly breath before you answer.

  4. When they talk too fast or they're trying to get you off the phone, tell them you don't hear well and ask to repeat the question.

  5. If they're being deliberately rude, ask to speak to their supervisor.

At the end of the call, regardless of how they treated you, send them good vibes. Their rudeness generally has nothing to do with you. After I got off the phone with Steve, I kept searching on their website until I realized I could input the information differently and was able to finally register my account. I felt gratitude towards him. His irascibility made me keep trying until I found the solution. Who would have thunk it?

Pilar Uribe
Pilar Uribe is an actor and voice talent, known for Yo soy Betty, la fea (1999), Wonderguy (1993) and Second Extinction (2020). Catch Pilar in video games, feature films, and tv shows + follow on Instagram and YouTube for more...


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