The Client from Hell

We’ve all had them: the Client from Hell.

Characteristics: know-it-all, over-competitive blowhards, pushy to the point of bullying all in the boat or on the trip, bitching or bragging constantly about the “other” guides they’ve had, rude, insulting, sulky, crabby, techno-freaks who spend more time fussing with their gear than fishing, poor casters (in spite of on-shore tutorials and repeated, possibly increasingly intense corrections), indifferent to basic boating, nearly swamping the boat, and generally unhappy folks. You could probably fill in a bunch of other adjectives, but you get the idea.

As an extreme example, I had one guy who was bi-polar on an hour-and-a-half cycle who would start positively ecstatic about the day, buying extra flies, a new rod, whatever his mood allowed in the shop, then practically foaming at the mouth with predictions of our quality fishing to come.

After a while, he’d be shouting at me, wondering aloud why he’d ever hired me, why I picked the particular section or river, what about this stupid fly, and nearly snapping his new rod in half because “We’re never going to catch anything”.

Rumor has it this guy was infamous in one of the local shops, and other outfitters/guides were sufficiently frustrated, insulted, or just plain fed up to the point of setting him ashore mid-trip and rowing away.

My question is – What do we do with these less than stellar folks?

I’m not talking about the regular clients who take a while to learn, who are generally unsure or uneasy with their fishing, newbies or oldsters who need help, and 98% of the rest of our clients.  After all, we’re in the service business and we can handle all types in a lot of different conditions – that’s what makes us pros.

I’m focused on the remaining 2% who make the day unending, the trip miserable for all involved (though they seem immune) and drive you to question your career choice.

The Montana Board of Outfitters regulations dictate we must keep our clientele safe while in the field.  Fine.  We shouldn’t leave anyone stranded onshore or mid-river on a gravel bar, and sure, we should deliver them to the appointed take-out while protecting them from the elements.

But, what about protecting us from them?  I’ve bitten my tongue for hours, stitching together tattered patience, reducing my easy patter to terse announcements between long silent stretches.

I often think of an ambulance attendant who must treat an ornery injured drunk.  They have to handle the injury while simultaneously acting as a mild bouncer, keeping the guy or gal at bay and not being injured themselves in the process.

If you’ve got any stories about how you’ve handled a Client from Hell, post a comment.  I’d like to start a collection of CFH descriptions and solutions provided.  Could be a good read.

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