The Art of Complaining: Complaining is an artform, like so many other aspects of inter-personal communication.
The Daily Freedom has an interesting blog about it which begins harmlessly: ‘Stop complaining. Stop whining. Get over it already. Ever hear this good advice? I know have. And this is what I think of it: $%^&*!!!!!!!! And so forth.’
But then it goes on – I think it‘s terrible advice, ‘I think we should all complain a little more.’
Keys To Effective Complaining
According to Daily Freedom, ‘some people complain all the time, about everything …..they walk around with a sense of entitlement.’ They are wrong. Instead to complain effectively:
- Know who to complain to.
- Avoid those who always say ‘No excuses.’
- Avoid those who always out-do you, you had an illness? They had it twice.
- Complain to someone who cares.
- Know where and when to complain.
- At work or in public is not usually then best places, always complain behind closed doors.
- Complain at best time to get maximum sympathy (avoiding people who are hungry, sick, irritable or complain him or herself.
- Save your complaints.
- Making a list is thought to be useful, so you can be more selective.
- Surprise people by complaining less, so people don’t tune you out.
- Be thankful.
- Being thankful is the ultimate way to complain effectively – if you don’t first know how good you have it, how are you ever going to know when things are bad?
The 5 best complaint letters
One of the best complaint letters by general agreement was written to Sir Richard Branson to complain about the food and entertainment and he actually rang the customer!
‘I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.
Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.
Look at this Richard. Just look at it:
I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?
You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:
I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn’t custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.
Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.
I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.
Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.
Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.
By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation:
It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.
I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.
Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:
I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:
Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.
My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:
Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.
Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.
So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.
As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.
Other Complaints to Enjoy
The Daily Telegraph published links to the best complaints
Airlines featured highly and the man who ‘sent two offerings from his cat’s litter tray with his complaint letter’ was never going to get far except as an internet sensation. Car manufacturers also came in for lots of complaints.
Copies to celebrities, the media and politicians often gets publicity if not real responses leading to remedial action.
I’m Leaving On a Jet Plane
One of the best letters of complaint ever was about sitting next to somebody very over-weight on a long plane ride. Highlights are these:
What weighs more than a Suzuki Swift, less than a Hummer and smells like the decaying anus of a deceased homeless man? No idea? How about, what measures food portions in kilograms and has the personal hygiene of a French prostitute? Still nothing? Right, one more try. What should be forced to purchase two seats on a Jetstar flight? That’s right, it’s the man I sat next to under on my flight from Perth to Sydney yesterday.
As I boarded the plane, I mentally high-fived myself for paying the additional $25 for an emergency seat. I was imagining all that extra room, when I was suddenly distracted by what appeared to be an infant hippopotamus located halfway down the aisle. As I got closer, I was relieved to see that it wasn’t a dangerous semi-aquatic African mammal, but a morbidly obese human being. However, this relief was short-lived when I realised that my seat was located somewhere underneath him.
Soon after I managed to burrow into my seat, I caught what was to be the first of numerous fetid whiffs of body odour. …. Considering I was visibly under duress, I found it strange that none of the cabin crew offered me another seat. To be fair, it’s entirely possible that none of them actually saw me.
Pinned to my seat by a fleshy boulder, I started preparing for a 127 Hours-like escape. Thankfully though, the beast moved slightly to his left, which allowed me to stand up, walk to the back of the plane and politely ask the cabin crew to be seated elsewhere. I didn’t catch the names of the three flight attendants, but for the purpose of this letter, I’ll call them: Chatty 1, Chatty 2 and Giggly ….
After my request, Chatty 1 and Chatty 2 continued their conversation and Giggly, well, she just giggled. I then asked if I could sit in one of the six vacant seats at the back of the aircraft, to which Giggly responded, “hehehe, they’re for crew only, hehehe“. I think Giggly may be suffering from some form of mental impairment.
I made my way back to Jabba the Hutt and spent the remainder of the flight smothered in side-boob and cellulite, taking shallow breaths to avoid noxious gas poisoning.
Imagine going out for dinner and a movie, only to have your night ruined by a fat mess who eats half your meal then blocks 50% of the screen. Isn’t that exactly the same as having someone who can’t control their calorie intake occupying half your seat on a flight? Of course it is, so that’s why I’m demanding a full refund of my ticket, including the $25 for an emergency row seat.
I’m also looking to be compensated for the physical pain and mental suffering caused by being enveloped in human blubber for four hours. My lower back is in agony and I had to type this letter one-handed as I’m yet to regain full use of my left side. To discuss my generous compensation package, email me at: [Redacted], or tweet me at: @RichWisken