French couple versus English U.S. Customs declaration forms

On the second leg of my return flight from Munich (originating from Budapest) on Lufthansa, I sat next to a young woman in high school who was trying to help a married couple fill out a U.S. CBP Customs Declaration Form in English.

The attempt was in vain. They only spoke French, I couldn’t contact any Automattician polyglots (hehe), and the flight attendants didn’t have forms in French.

You can imagine the frustration.

They persisted for at least fifteen minutes with the nice young woman; her friend, who sat across the aisle from me, tried to share some key French words.

Unfortunately, her friend learned French two years ago, and was out of practice, so that didn’t go well.

I tried suggesting they wait until LAX to request a form in French since this is a legal document, but they kept trying.

I’m…not sure how everything played out at the end.

We’ll do our best, but you can’t please everyone

I meant to post this insight from Marco Arment last year:

Some people will find things to complain about. [...] You will never please everyone. You will never win that battle.

We’ll do our best in customer support, yet it’s inevitable that we’ll interact someone who is extremely upset with us.

Our patience and grace can win their hearts over; I’ve seen it many times, and we usually post it internally to remind ourselves why we carry on. (We call them “hugs”.) After a follow–up response, the customer apologizes for their crankiness, grateful for our help.

That’s why we’re some of the best in the industry. :)

In unfortunate and rare circumstances, when they’re angry and continue to berate us, it’s super helpful to know that we can regroup with our coworkers internally, analyze the situation, and decide that we can’t win ‘em all.

“Can’t win ‘em all? What does that mean?”

Our replies to that particular person will no longer help, and we close the email. If they show a change of heart and send a follow–up reply, we’re happy to revisit.

For what it’s worth, I assure you we do as much as we can before we get to that point.

If this interests you, we’d love for you to work with us, especially since we always need Happiness Engineers. :)

FaceTime audio calls are excellent

While I’m in Budapest, I’ve been using FaceTime audio–only calls with my wife on our iPhones.

Free WiFi access at our apartments means:

  • Amy doesn’t need to setup Skype. We can use the built–in iOS app.
  • I don’t worry about minutes.
  • Audio quality is great (as long as the internet connection is stable).

Here is the data usage from our calls so far:

  • 27 minutes (18 MB)
  • 5 minutes (4 MB)
  • 56 minutes (30 MB)
  • 9 minutes (7 MB)

Mac users can also use the FaceTime app if you aren’t an iPhone user.

How? In iOS, view the contact information, and tap the phone icon next to the FaceTime video camera icon.

FaceTime options

Happy chatting!

Sick during a work trip

This is my second work trip where I was put out of commission for at least one day. Jet lag, inadequate sleep, exhaustion, and pushing myself too hard are the likely culprits.

I’m really thankful for my coworkers — especially to my roommate, Paul Ciano, for the DayQuil and NyQuil
— for supporting me while I’m quarantined in my bedroom.