This will be the first entry in my Customer Service Stories series. Since I work in sheet music publishing, most of these anecdotes tend to be funnier if you are a musician, or at least musically inclined. But then again, perhaps not having a working knowledge of music just makes my customers’ occasional all-out craziness that much better. I’ll never really know. At any rate, this little drama occurred last week, and it made my personal Top 3. Enjoy. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. I know I did.
Customer of the Day: So what’s your instrument?
Me: I’m a singer.
Customer: What the heck kinda instrument is that?
Me: Um, I’m a singer. I sing.
Customer: OH! So, you sing?! I’m a singer too! I’m a lyric soprano! What do you sing? High? Low?
Me: I’m a mezzo.
Customer: OH! A mezzo! Yeah! M-E-Z-Z-O! Mezzo! What’s it called when your voice moves around like this: *wails into phone*
Me: Um. You mean vibrato?
Customer: Yeah! Vibrato, that’s right! What’s it mean when your voice sounds like that?
Me: Umm… Well, it’s just a voice quality that some people have. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong…
Customer: Yeah, well I knew THAT. I knew this lady in church who used to sing like that. People called her the “lady with the crazy voice”. She used to sing all the songs like that. She’d just open her mouth, and it’d be like this: *sings a medley of old hymns with extremely exaggerated vibrato and just general weirdness*
Me: … Wow.
Customer: Yeah, she was an opera singer. You know opera?
Me: (afraid to commit, but unsure of how else to answer) Yes…
Customer: Yeah, I know opera too! You know, all the opera people… like… Pavarotti, he was pretty good. You know, I know all the opera guys, the black ones AND the white ones. But I like the black ones better.
Customer: But you know, you need to play a real instrument. Don’t you play anything else?
Me: (growing extremely wary) I used to play piano when I was younger, but I don’t have a piano right now, so it’s kind of hard to practice.
Customer: Yeah! Well! You gotta just practice! Seven days a week at 2am! That’s when I practice! Seven days a week at 2am!
Me: (defeated) Okay.
Customer: Yeah. Well. I guess I’ll let you get back to work.
Me: Okay, you have a good day.
Customer: Yeah, you know I used to have a real piano, but now I just have a keyboard. You know the ones with 76 keys? But I used to have a real one. You know the kind that’s just, like, all the keys, and wood on the sides?
Customer: Yeah. I used to have one, but now I need a new one. I had to pay, like, $800, and now I need a new one. Us musicians, we have to pay all this money just to take lessons when we’re 7 and all up through school, and then it’s four years in college, and then two years for your Master’s, and then your PhD! And then you have to buy all this music, and the music stores are all closed, so you have to pay all these shipping fees, and it’s expensive! You guys had that big store downtown, and now it’s closed, and I can’t get music anywhere! You shouldn’t have closed that store!
Me: … I’m sorry.
Customer: Yeah! You should be!
Me: (speechless, again)
Customer: Well! You go practice! Thanks for answering all my questions! You gotta go practice!
Me: (speaking very quickly) Okay, you have a good day!
Customer: Yeah, you go prac-
Me: *hangs up*