Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just breathe

I had to go to the bank yesterday to get a cashier’s check. For some reason, at that exact time they had one guy working both the drive-thru (yes, my bank branch still uses humans and those fun pneumatic tubes) and the inside windows, one older bank employee fighting with some dying printer, and two branch heads dealing with the super-special bank-y stuff. (I’m an English teacher and that’s all I can come up with. My brain is like soup at this point in the school year.) Oh yes, and about six customers all waiting to do person-to-person transactions. Fun.

I whipped out a magazine and began to read while standing there, figuring I could either get annoyed or make the best of a situation. Meanwhile, the two men behind me stood there and muttered, complaining about the service, the wait, the inefficiency of the staff…. One even quipped to the other, “You know, I saw a sign that said, ‘We hire the handicapped’….” Oh, ha ha. I almost turned around but decided to keep mum. As the branch manager came over to see if she could speed things along, apologizing about eight times, the men responded a bit belligerently. However, as they waited, they began to talk, realizing they worked in similar fields (painting and contracting) and even exchanging business information. They discovered they knew some of the same people and had worked on similar projects. I of course pulled a Pollyanna, turned around and said, “Now, see? If we hadn’t had to wait, you two never would have had this conversation.” They laughed and the one guy said, “I knew you were going to say something like that. You probably work here!”, but they were kidding around at that point.

Driving home from another bank yesterday (we refinanced our house!), I got caught in classic 5:30 traffic. I have no A-C in my car. So I opened the window, cranked the radio, and belted out “Somebody to Love” by Queen because hey, who can hear me? Plus T was in front of me in his car, so we got on our phones (hands-free, don't worry) and decided where to go to dinner and just chatted.

Then, at dinner, I overheard the waitress apologizing to three elderly customers for messing up an order: She’d brought something out at the wrong time that they'd wanted sooner. The woman told her not to worry about it; she’d been a waitress herself and it was no bother in any way. She laughed the whole thing off, made the waitress feel better (who, admittedly, seemed a little ditzy), and they ate the rest of their meal.

In situations such as those, we have a lot of decisions to make. We can get steamed, complain, rant, demand to see a manager, etc., or we can make the best of it. Granted, sometimes we have the right to be annoyed, but so many of those sorts of situations are out of the hands of those dealing with it. One famous story in DH’s family involves some jerk airline passenger screaming at the flight attendant because of a delayed flight until my FIL basically told him, as only he can, to sit down and zip it and leave her alone. He got a free first-class ticket for doing that. I think we’re so used to instant gratification and we’re all in such a hurry that we don’t stop to consider anyone else’s situation. Again, customer service in some cases has taken a serious downturn, but in general, I’ve found that it all turns out better if we all calm down and take a breath.

I’m not always patient. Not at all. I have definitely lost my cool in these sorts of situations. I have various reasons to gasp and hold my breath this week, not just because of allergies, so in a way that’s reminding me even more to close my eyes for a second , inhale, and exhale. So take a breath, folks. I’m going to try to do the same.

Oh, and if you want to see a rather biting clip that has to do with all of this, click here and go to 4:56. It's only about 20 seconds and it may give you a smile.


Ouiser said...

go, Mandy Patinkin/Inigo Montoya.

feather nester said...

Extra-good post.