Suggestions for gracious UH service

The King Report

Lori King

First-semester UH freshman Lori King was given the assignment of recording her thoughts on the campus and its people. This is her report.

"May I help you?"

These words seem simple enough on the written page. Yes, they do ... and with a lot of assumption and a bit of thought, they almost sound like words someone would use when they wanted to offer you assistance. This, however, does not always seem to be the case, especially at particular places here on the good ol' University of Houston campus.

Now, I'm not the type of person who would go and single out these specific areas (financial aid, admissions), but I'm sure that with a bit of imagination you'll realize exactly what I am talking about.

Let me begin my observation by taking you through an example of what I, myself, have experienced. Oh yes, the shock ... the horror ... the admissions office (cue foreboding music, or if you haven't got any of that, Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract" should work nicely).

It was a bright and sunny day, and I was in a bright and sunny mood. I was wearing knee socks and a plaid skirt in order to show off my dazzling knees, and also to illustrate my innocence and naïveté (aren't those the same th - oh, never mind).

So anyway, there I was, skipping merrily along (which I am prone to do on Tuesday afternoons) toward what turned out to be my doom.

As soon as I entered the halls of the foreboding Ezekiel Cullen Building, I knew something was slightly amiss. I lost all desire to skip. The eerie music got


I began to walk, slowly, carefully, trying not to meet the gazes of the people who looked like they had just been through war. And they had - their own personal wars: The War of the Parking Sticker, of the Cougar OneCard, of the dreaded Financial Statement.

I finally made it to the line I was looking for. I finally got the nerve to approach the counter. I finally heard those dreaded words, "May I help you?"

It was like the person was saying, "May I help you," yet was really thinking, "I like to bowl." The two just don't add up, and hey, that's where the problems lie and the fear begins.

From my point of view, some of these people before whom we are set in desperate appeals for mercy don't really care if we get enrolled or park our cars or can find our ways to the bathroom. It just doesn't seem to matter when it actually should. Especially the part about finding the bathroom.

Now listen, folks (isn't that a line from Oklahoma!?), I'm not the type of person who would complain in this manner and not offer solutions to correct the problem(s). And so, in my caring and cheerful style, that is what I'm going to do.

For instance, the first thing that would really make my day when I go to E. Cullen or the University Center would be a rule that forced all the men to wear kilts. This would, if nothing else, at least make me laugh very, very hard.

Another proposal: large vats of complimentary gummi worms strategically placed in the hallways underneath many large posters of Shaft and the cast of Welcome Back, Kotter.

Lava lamps, bead curtains, free cheese ... the list of possibilities goes on and on, proving that, even if you can't change these people's attitudes, at least you don't have to be angry when you are forced to make the visit.

My point is kind of along the same lines as the dentist-office theory: Even though you are about to be subjected to pain, humiliation and token conversation, at least you can read that issue of People you didn't feel like buying.

In conclusion, I will tell you what people warned me about when I told them I was writing this column. I was instantly reminded that I may feel the need to come back next semester, and that writing about this particular topic may not be the best way to ensure that.

But I laugh at them. Ha, ha, ha! And I end this column on that note, but not before saying that the people in the customer service positions, though they can be stoic and often rude, have extremely nice hairstyles.

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