Inconveniences and Tragedies

Sometimes things just do not go as they should, and certainly not as some of us expect.  I have had some of that these past few days. And I have expressed my frustration with several people about those things, and quite assertively.  No, not assertively, but aggressively.  And while the content of what I expressed was technically correct, I was wrong in how I said what I said.  No, I did not scream, call names, or use profanity.  But I was wrong nonetheless, although I did not think so at the time.  My awareness of the error of my ways came when I compared my inconveniences to the life changing events others are experiencing.    

In the past two days, I have waited on the phone a total of more than three hours listening to “how great we are” messages and incorrect information, never having my calls answered by a live voice and a caring person who could help me. I had the time to wait since I was a passenger in the car for most of that time, so I waited.  I was curious about how long it would be before someone answered the phone, and no one ever did.  The phones were obviously jammed with callers who were unable to get the information they needed due to problems with the company’s new “enhanced” website.  I also went on the new website, and spent at least two hours trying to log on, establish a new user name and password and answering security questions, only to be bumped off each time.  Being a customer advocate, I was diligent about escalating my concern to other departments than the one which should have been able to help me, but couldn’t.  In essence, I wasted five hours of my time.  I still do not have the information I need, and do not know when I will.  The last person I spoke with about the problems in their system told me to wait forty-eight hours and call back.  Imagine!  I cannot describe how upset all this lack of service made me.  Even worse was the waste of my time.  As my friend, Judy, has always said, “Waste my food and even waste my money, but do not waste my time.”  Time lost can never be recovered.

I don’t know why I thought I should call another service company and try to solve another problem when I was so upset by the lack of service of the first company, but I did, and also, to no avail. I called the cable company to ask why my bill is increasing for a change in service I did not request and do not need.  That call resulted in me being even more frustrated. The answer I was given was that the (new) company owner was streamlining the offerings to customers, and the bandwidth I had was no longer available.  After hearing how the increase in my monthly payment was only $20, (remember, for a service I did not need and did not request!) I finally told the service rep that I was being forced to consider another vendor, although I did not want to.  I heard no empathy in the service rep’s responses, so I decide to not waste any more of my time or his, and ended the call.  But I was not happy.

While I was still fuming about these two very frustrating events, the evening news came on.  The lead story on the local news was about a tornado destroying the homes of some people in Sampson county, NC, a county close to my area in North Carolina.  The news of the devastation the people of the area suffered immediately took my mind off my inconveniences, and put my blessings into clear focus.  The people of Sampson County are dealing with much more than inconveniences.  I felt immediately not just grateful, but guilty.      

The national news further compounded the difference in inconveniences and tragedy. The news of the bombing and killing of innocent people, children and young adults out for a concert in Manchester, England, made what I had been dealing with so trivial.  While I had been fussing and fuming about lack of phone response, website glitches, and increase in payment for services I do not need, people were dealing with the senseless loss of their children and their homes.  I had only lost time and money, while people in Sampson County, NC and Manchester, England lost so much more.  How quickly our problems can pale when compared to the problems of others.  Shame on me for not being able to deal with life’s inconveniences in an adult manner, without letting them ruin my day and the day of those whom I vented my frustration upon.  The difference in these experiences reminded me of what another friend, MoMo, has said more than once about me; I am usually calm with major challenges, yet can be thrown into a tailspin by minor things.  I need to change how I deal with the latter. 

Systems are not error free, and people will not always meet our expectations, nor will we meet theirs.  Such is life.  But these should be seen for what they are, only minor disruptions, not major problems.  My behavior needs to reflect that I truly understand the difference.

I usually write what I need to learn.  This one is for me. 

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About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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