Today, yet another installment of my Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of beleaguered customer service representatives.

Kari-Out chopsticks

Me: You know how some Americans have trouble using your product? Well, I have an idea that might help your company sell here. Chopsticks are sold in pairs, two prongs next to each other and you have to break them apart, right?

Riona: Yeah.

Me: What if instead of that, for Americans, you glue together two pairs of chopsticks, side by side, so there are four parallel tines. Then we can just spear the food with it! It would become a fork!

Riona: I am in sales, not new item introductions.


(Illustration by Alex Fine)

Me: But still, is it a good idea?

Riona: It is not what chopsticks do. Not how they work.

Me: But with my idea, we dumb but frugal Americans could also use them as really cheap combs! Will you pass this on, at least?

Riona: No.

Foodhold USA maple syrup, for Giant Food

Me: I have discovered something disturbing, and I hope you can ease my mind.

Jessica: I’ll try.

Me: “Maple syrup” is an anagram for “lamprey pus.”

Jessica: Okay.

Me: Is it possible this product is secretly made from eel pus?

Jessica: We do not have that information here.

Me: Wait, what?

Jessica: Only one of our suppliers could answer that.

Me: Are you actually telling me you can’t confirm your maple syrup is not eel pus?

Jessica: I can’t. I will refer it to a supplier. But I need the bar code from your product.

Me: Madam, you astound me.

Crosse & Blackwell capers

Me: Can you settle a bet between me and my buddy?

Brooke: Okay.

Me: We love your product, but we disagree on what capers actually are. I say they are lizard eyeballs in saltwater, but he says they are pickled mouse ovaries. Which of us is right? There’s some money riding on this.

Brooke:

Me: Brooke, do I hear you laughing at me?

Brooke: No, sir. It’s from a perennial plant. May I put you on hold to check further?

Me: Sure. (Two minutes of hold.)

Brooke: It’s an edible bud from a flower from the caper bush. We pickle them.

Me: Fair enough, but now I have a different problem. Your hold music is awful. It sounds like a high school kazoo and armpit-fart band.

Brooke:

Me: Now I am sure you are laughing.

Brooke: I am. I have heard the music, too. In fact, I will alert our teams.

Uncle Ben's instant rice

Me: I am calling with a confession and a suggestion. The confession is that the only time I buy your product is when my dog has diarrhea. But it works miracles. Do I need to apologize to Uncle Ben’s and feel bad about that?

Melissa: Not at all! I get lots of calls from consumers saying their veterinarians recommended it.

Me: Okay, good. Now here’s my suggestion. You know how on the back of the box you have recipes? The one I am looking at is for Apricot Pineapple Chicken With Sweet ’n Spicy Rice.

Melissa: Sure.

Me: I think you should put on the box: “Also for dog diarrhea.” You could put it next to the recipe. Do you think that is a good idea?

Email Gene Weingarten at weingarten@washpost.com. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.

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