Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Do Not Go Gentle...

A case can be made for the nobility of suffering physical and personal problems in silence. A good friend dealing with cancer never, ever speaks of it or his reactions to it, despite the fact that he knows I am more than willing to listen and do what little I can to provide support, and my admiration for him borders on awe.

I have never suffered in silence on any level...even at those times when I admittedly probably should have. If I have a hangnail, everyone within a six-mile radius knows about it. (I just got a paper cut on my tongue while sealing the envelope to the manager of a business at which the receptionist had been gratuitously rude...thus enabling me to suffer, loudly, twice.) I know my desire to share my physical discomforts is undoubtedly a rather childishly crude bid for an "aww, poor baby!" response. But this is not true of my insistence on being treated with courtesy and reasonable attentiveness from those whose job it is to provide me with a service.

There is no nobility in suffering gratuitous rudeness, professional incompetence, poor service, poor treatment, or willful ignorance from these people, and I refuse to do so without making my displeasure known.

People tend to be sheep. Rather than risk any form of confrontation by "making waves," they accept the unacceptable without a single word of protest...which of course only encourages more of the same. And as a result, they suffer not only the initial transgression but the frustration and bottled-up anger of knowing they should have/could have objected but did nothing. I do not consider stating a legitimate complaint clearly and without undo emotion to necessarily be a "confrontation."

I have several friends who will tolerate the most egregious rudeness and insensitivity without a murmur. Surly, inattentive clerks, poor service, cold food in a restaurant, bureaucratic dictates? No matter how frustrating or anger-inducing, accepted with not a peep of protest, and it drives me crazy.
When I am paying for a service, I have every right to expect that service, and if I don't get it you can be sure I'll not remain silent.

If I receive cold food in a restaurant, I don't hesitate a second in sending it back...politely, of course. My friends just shrug and eat what they're served. If a clerk or a waiter is rude, I ask to speak to the manager. Immediately. I then calmly explain my position and, while not demanding the clerk/waiter be fired on the spot, suggest that they be reminded of the value of civility and courtesy to the success of any business. Not to report improper behavior to the manager is to perpetuate it, and to perhaps assure that the customer will not only never return, but let others know what happened. The only way a manager has of knowing there is a problem is to bring it to his/her attention.

If there is a problem with a phone representative, I immediately ask to speak to a supervisor. If I am not satisfied with the response, I ask to speak to the supervisor's supervisor, and ask for the name and address of the head of the company.

I can think of at least two incidents where my refusal to simply acquiesce to what I was told by the first person I talked to saved me several thousand dollars. I would not be in the apartment in which I am now living had I simply accepted the explanation, when I requested to change from my old apartment, that "nothing could be done." It could, and it was. I never forget that low level bureaucrats have the tendency to assume that they are the organization for which they work, and that what they say is the way it is. Period. It is not.

And even if expressing unhappiness does no my friends are quick to point out that it probably won't...I at least have the satisfaction of knowing I did not suffer in silence, that I did not go gentle into that good night.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

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