This article was published on July 20, 2010

The Freak Out

The Freak Out
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

A couple of years ago I met a guy who told me his wife had recently died. He was 30, she was 31 and they had just gotten married when she was diagnosed with some evil disease. She passed away 2 months later.

We talked about it for a while and then I asked him if there was anything positive about the whole experience. He answered ‘yes, I’m really good at dealing with bullshit now’.

He went on to explain that once your partner dies you are left handling all her affairs. He had to cancel insurance, bank accounts and subscriptions.

We all know how hard it is to cancel anything. Now imagine cancelling something for someone who won’t be able to answer a security question, because she is dead, or show her credentials, because she was dead.

He told me that part was one of the worst parts of the whole process because it took him more than a year to deal with all the hassle which made it very hard to properly mourn her and get on with his life.

I asked him how he ended up dealing with everything. His answer surprised me:

“I freak out right away.”

He was totally serious about it too. He explained to me how everybody is just trying to keep their desk clean and how people at helpdesks and service centers are just conditioned to not do any more work and get you out of the door or off the phone as quick as possible. So no matter how nice you ask them and how polite you are they will just try to ignore you and not get you anywhere near a solution if it means actual work for them.

Unless you freak out.

Because if you do, and start cursing, threatening and screaming, the person on the other end of the line will think “This guy means trouble. Lets just give him what he wants so we can avoid more trouble”. They will give in right away and feel really good about it too. During lunch break they will say “Oh my, I had a real freak call in earlier and he just started shouting so I gave him what he want and he went away! I’m so glad I was able to handle that well”.

I enjoyed his story and felt miserable at the same time. I know he is right but it is saddening to know that sometimes you won’t get very far with being nice, controlled and polite.

Of course, this guy is taking the advice a bit too far:

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