Lodge All Complaints Here, by Matthew Klickstein

No need to thank me.

I’m just doing my job. My tireless, aggravating, hamster-wheel job.

But, it’s a job nonetheless, and I’m happy to be working.

Because folks such as yourself are always asking me how exactly it works, I thought I’d finally lay it all down on the line.

If you’ve ever wondered where complaints go, then you’re first of all asking the wrong question. What you should be asking is: Where are complaints lodged? And if you’ve gotten that far, you’re first to be congratulated for your fortitude and then should receive an answer:

COMPLAINTS ARE LODGED IN, WELL, A COMPLAINT LODGE, OF COURSE.

That’s where I work. All day. All night. Non-stop. Forever before and forever beyond. Essentially, it’s my charge to collect, scrutinize and properly categorize any and all complaints lodged.

Being an autodidactic polyglot (a necessity these days in the industry), you needn’t worry about my misreading your complaint, regardless of the language in which it might be written.

There was the one time I incorrectly translated a complaint from Luxembourg –  but being a resident of one of the world’s wealthiest countries, that person had little to complain about anyway. The gist of it had something to do with a gerbil that had been ordered and arrived in the wrong color. Or some such silly thing.

I’m not really supposed to do this, but of course I keep a private file of my favorite complaints. The truly best of them would be too libelous, sordid and downright unbelievable to be relayed here.

Needless to say, a not-surprising majority of Best Of’s hail from West Hollywood, USA. A few of them have to do with gerbils, too, but set in a very different context. (Different both from that mentioned previously and from traditional social mores in general.)

As you might imagine, the tumescent glut of complaints lodged sometimes makes one wish he could take a vacation in the relatively relaxed realm of a metropolitan post office.

Times being what they are, though, abandoning my station for such a sabbatical would also mean leaving myself open to any manner of subterfuge by those just itching to get a stable, full-time job like mine.

For those wondering how the outrageously Sisyphean task of handling the world’s endless flow of complaints can be left to the offices of one man, it’s simple. By employing the same cutting edge microfilm technology developed by our friends at Santa’s Workshop (LLC), the rate at which we can receive and process lodged complaints would boggle the minds of everyone from Dr. Hawking’s wheelchair computer to David Foster Wallace’s psychotherapist.

The fine folks at the OED have also taken advantage of Santa’s innovative software, and it shows. (Just to give you some idea of the vast number of words at play here.)

Trust me: We’re fast.

Funny, isn’t it? My invoking the “we.” And I’m not even a royal. No, it’s basically just me in the cozy and quaint complaint lodge equipped with all the basic contrivances, along with a roaring fireplace in the corner and enough stacks of paper to choke an IRS donkey.

We tried to transition over to paperless a while back, but neither Apple nor Microsoft could keep up with the implacable demand. We’re working with Google on something that should go live within the year, but that’s the brand of talk that needs to be kept under wraps for the time being, I’m afraid.

True, I’m not totally alone archiving complaints. It’s just that my superiors are as incorporeal as any panjandrum from Kafka’s worst nightmares. Though I’m on occasion graced with a note from a Mr. Henly P. Wintersbottom, I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is he does for the organization aside from his taking some seniority over me.

Which is strange, as I’ve been here for time immemorial. (Long story.)

But, as they say in the Army (and complaints from there I could tell you about all night, and from both sides of the chain of command, at that): It is not for us to question why, it’s just for us to do or die!

I will confess, the first few messages I received from Mr. Wintersbottom I took as complaints and, curiously, they found themselves filed (properly, no less!) in the annals of our byzantine system. (Mental Note, actually: Best bring this bug up with the Google folks.)

Like I said, I’m just happy to be working. Wages are scant, but living expenses are handled by the organization and as long as the fireplace continues crackling, I’m content. I haven’t any hobbies. I haven’t any outside interests. I haven’t a family…

… Though there was the time I received a certain lodged complaint that, truly, tore me up inside. It was from a lovely young gamin of a girl in rural Spain and I’ll not go into details of the complaint itself except to tell you that never before had I personally connected to a sender through his or her words.

And never since have I, either.

I never met the girl. (We’re not to fraternize, as you may have guessed.) And she probably doesn’t even know I’m here. Who cares for the man behind the counter, as long as he’s doing his job?

I’ve kept the complaint, folded neatly and safely hidden in an envelope in a drawer next to my flask. Sometimes I’ll pull it out and (keeping said flask handy), I’ll read it and wonder about where she is now. And I do so with a gentle smile born of the knowledge that because I’ve not received another complaint from her, she must be doing all right.

Which reminds me! I best move along here. The complaints are already stacking up and with the High Holy Days soon upon us (oy, our busiest time of year), I’ve no call to dawdle.

I’ll conclude with a few helpful hints for how you can most efficaciously see your complaint lodged with quicker turnaround:

  • It’s “complaint lodge.” Two words. There’s no hyphen, and it’s not a portmanteau. FedEx has been known to simply dispose of any incorrectly addressed lodged complaints, so please be mindful of that.
  • Similarly, the complaint lodge is not a public trust subsidized by the world governments. Yes, you are required to include your own postage. This is a big one.
  • If yours is a poor quality of handwriting, there’s no shame in taking advantage of a word processor. Emails and texts, et al, are not yet acceptable, but we will let you know about the Google developments as soon as possible.
  • Don’t repeat complaints. That makes us mad. We heard you twice the first time.
  • No follow-ups. If we want to get in touch with you about your complaint, we’ll let you know.
  • Always remember: We’re merely processing the complaint. What happens from there isn’t our business. If you expect more, please direct your inquiry elsewhere. (Complaints about the complaint lodge, it should be noted, often get shredded. Use your head on this one.)
  • Well, I suppose that’s all for now. Time for me to get back to it. The literal grind. Oh, and I can see already it’s quite a lot today. Sheesh.

    Of course, I could complain… but that’d be just more work for me.

    Mathew Klickstein has written for numerous publications and is the author of five books, including the forthcoming SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age. He also wrote Against the Dark (starring Steven Seagal), co-created National Lampoon’s Collegetown USA, and directed the feature rockumentary Act Your Age: The Kids of Widney High Story. He lives and writes in New York City.

    The Humor Section features a piece of original humor writing each week. To submit, send an email to Brian Boone.

    Lodge All Complaints Here, by Matthew Klickstein