A recent journal entry I read at DotMoms reminded me of a friend of mine from high school (a long, long, long time ago) who, when faced with perceived injustices, poor service, or a faulty product, would inevitably sit down and write a letter of complaint. What amazed me at the time was all the free stuff she would get from apologetic companies. Looking back on it now, what amazes me was her commitment, even at a young age, to follow through on such things. She also, as I recall, had the insight and intelligence to write very professional letters explaining her grievances without coming across as an enraged lunatic.
I started wondering why I'm not better at this? Most of the time I feel like it's all I can handle just to keep our family "boat" afloat, let alone sit down for a letter writing campaign. Also, I don't think I've ever gotten any free gifts sent to me for "my trouble". More often than not, I'm met with indifference or indignation and I wonder why I even bothered.
A perfect example would be my recent run-in with our local cable company. I had scheduled for our cable to be installed the day after we moved into our new house. Because a day without TV in our house, is not a good day. Being well aware that cable men are notoriously late or even no-shows, I was prepared and almost expected to be stood up. So after our FIVE HOUR time slot had expired, I calmly called the cable company and asked when I could expect our installer to show up.
Customer Service informed me, "Our records show that Chester did come by, but that you refused service and told him to cancel the installation."
"WHAAAAT!?" I squawked. "Nooo, I didn't! He never showed up. I've been here all day."
"Well his report states that he came and spoke to you and you turned him away."
She doesn't believe me. Chester decided that he needed to get his back waxed instead of installing my cable, filed some bogus report about it, and now this woman is blaming me. Obviously, she does not see what's going on here.
More squawking from me, "He's LYYYYing! I'm telling you, IT NEVER HAPPENED!"
"Can you hold while I talk to our dispatch department who can try to contact your installer?"
I wait on hold.
"Ma'am, I've talked to dispatch who talked to Chester who said that he called you, spoke to you about your installation, and when you found out what the cost would be you cancelled the installation."
AHA! I've got Chester on the ropes. He's scrambling, changing his story. He didn't come to my house, he called me, now. I inform Customer Service that "No. That didn't happen either. Nobody here talked to him."
"Well, he said he talked to you and you refused service."
Unbelievable. I've been trumped by Chester the cable man.
I implore, "But he's LYING!"
"Would you like me to look into it further?"
"Yeah, you do that."
My intended revenge on Chester and his whole evil cable empire was to get the satellite installation people out to my house as soon as possible and to fire cable from my life forever. However, because we have big beautiful oak trees surrounding our house which I love even more than TIVO, we cannot receive the satellite TV signal.
Yes, the story ends with me crawling back to reschedule my cable installation. It was ugly and painful. I made Curtis deal with the rest of it. I wouldn't even talk to the installer when he came for fear that I would find out his name was Chester and blood would flow. And just as a final little "thank you for your business", he took his huge drill and put a hole practically in the middle of my 64 year old hardwood floor.
To get back to the point... (you were starting to wonder, weren't you?) What have I learned from all of this and, more importantly, what am I teaching my children. They ARE paying attention, after all. I would like to teach my children how to be committed and involved instead of being apathetic and passive. But equally as important, is teaching them how to have the proper perspective when people don't respond the way they want them to and how to let go of the things they can't control.
To that end, "Chester, I release you."