I've surrendered my serenity to corporate America lately. The dimmer switch rotated just enough to wake me up a couple of weeks ago. But I walked out of the room of enlightenment and back into sloppy darkness this past Friday.
You see, I'd been having a few issues with a certain mega-telecommunications corporation. Not with the individuals, mind you. The dozen or more customer service folks and technicians I've dealt with have been professional, polite, helpful, diligent, accommodating. May have something to do with the feedback questionnaire that they know gets sent to the customer as soon as we hang up. But really, they are nice people and most have been pleasant. In spite of me.
But, of course, to get to a real person, you have to navigate the voice-recognition system. "Please state the nature of your call. If it is about a billing issues, say, 'billing.' If it is about a technical issue, please say, 'technical support.' blah, blah, blah."I don't do well with the voice recognition system. After my 2 dozen or so calls over two months, I just want a person. A real person. Any person. The voice recognition system probably isn't programmed to decipher the high-pitched scream of a frustrated customer yelling, "Just get me a person!!"
So, last week I decided to go and visit a the store to see if I could get some satisfaction, clarity, and answers. The details aren't important. The context is. I was frustrated, angry, and fighting the urge to relapse into the comforting arms of hysteria.
The professional, polite, helpful, diligent, accommodating employee who, I'm sure, cursed his luck for being the eager greeter at the door, listened while I delivered my 15-stanza ballad. He graciously took me to the counter, began pulling up screens on the computer, asked me follow-up questions, then went into the back room (probably to spit nails, beg his supervisor to take over, and complain about the madwoman in fleece and Birkenstocks).
While he was gone, I pulled out a scrap piece of paper and began to scribble the roiling stream-of-consciousness. All of sudden the absurdity hit me. I had surrendered my sanity to corporate America. I was ticked off and tied up in knots because corporate America didn't behave the way I wanted it to behave. A little silly, eh? Since when does a telecommunications giant care what Mary Henton wants? Probably not ever.
Humbled and humored by the insanity of it all, I kept writing, admitting to myself (and now to you) that, once again, I forget some very basics about good living. The first of which is, "I am not in control."
It serves no one (especially self) to "lose it" to what I can't control. It's easy to lose it. But I'm the only one who feels any pain. No telecommunications giant cares. The voice recognition system doesn't adjust its message. "If you're really frustrated and want our company to change its customer service processes to satisfy your personal needs, please scream, 'You suck.' "
I got hold of myself for the rest of the day. Even managed to carry this reminder lesson through most of the next week. Then I let Big Box American Grocery get to me this past Friday. An early and quick foray to pick up milk (it's from a regional, organic dairy) put me in the store just as the produce people were picking over the "damaged" and "unsaleable" produce to toss into the dumpster. Of course, I couldn't let it go. I fingered the pile, seething for vindication for my dismay. Sure enough. A sweet potato with a 1/4" brown spot (easy to cut out); a package of celery with a few brown tips; a couple of just-beginning-to-show-wrinkles apples; an huge red onion with a soft spot the size of a thumbprint.
"What are you going to do with these?" I asked the young man who, I knew, was simply following corporate policy.
"We have to throw these out. If someone bought one of these and got sick, we'd be in trouble."
"But these vegetables are perfectly fine. Look, you just have to cut out this little piece. This celery just needs to be trimmed." I quickly realized that I was, knowingly, walking in a wall. Then backing up a few steps and walking into the wall again. Then backing up a few steps again and...
Get the picture? Lessons. Often the same ones. Slow learner, here.