Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Printer Who Dared

A previous blog entry reminded me of a similar interaction. I used to work for a business that sold and serviced digital imagers (copiers). One of our clients had a printing business located directly across the alley. Well, the procedure for requesting service for a copier is to call the 1-800 number and the corporate office would dispatch a local technician via cell phone. Well, you would think that a printer would opt for a slightly more expensive contract that included a guaranteed response time, due to the nature of their business that is wrought with deadlines and depends fully on our products to create their products. But not this guy. He opted to attempt to speed things along by simply walking across the alley and screaming at the administrator. Unfortunately for him, the former administrator had been replaced by me. And I have zero tolerance for bullies. He bolted through the entrance and demanded to speak with the boss. I said that the boss was out of the office and offered his cell phone number. Then he demanded to speak with a technician. I reminded him that they generally work out of their vehicles and were all currently onsite servicing copiers for area businesses. He stomped around deciding how he would proceed. I asked whether he had called in a repair order. "Yes, but that was 20 minutes ago and no one has responded." I asked whether he had obtained a confirmation number. He had. So, from my end, there was nothing more that could be done, but to wait for the next available technician. That wasn’t good enough, so he started ranting about how much he’d paid for the equipment and how urgently he needed to fill an order. I understood and was sympathetic. Then he started complaining about the customer service he received. I found that highly insulting because being our neighbor and a print shop, his account always took top priority despite his cut-rate service contract fees. "What am I supposed to do? You tell me what my options are? I’m about to make a call to your competitor." I explained to him the folly of that suggestion, since he did not have a contract labor agreement with our competitor, it would be costly. And we certainly would not cover that expense, particularly since a 20 minute delay was all he had suffered. His posture became very aggressive and he stepped forward to tower over me (I’m rather small in stature and I was seated), and his tone matched his posture when he said, "You’d better do something, call someone, or else…"

"Don’t you dare threaten me!" I said fearlessly, composed. He started back a step and was frustrated again, "Well what do you suggest I do?!"

"I suggest you march yourself back to your desk across the alley and wait your turn. We average a 4 hour response time, so I don’t want to hear from you before that expires!"

From then on, he always treated me with utmost respect. I don’t know what makes people expect what they’re not entitled to or that they can circumvent all established rules and get their way. It doesn’t work on me.

I don’t like confrontation, and am generally fearful of men and aggression. In normal conversation I stumble all over my words. But when someone is so totally out of line, I become authoritative and unflinchingly courageous. My thoughts and words are expressed clear as crystal and sharp as a sword. The fear disappears completely when I become indignant. Where does that come from? It is not a defensive move, because my concern is not for myself, but for the truth and for the sake of what is right. I feel a desperate need to correct the great wrong being committed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Finally, Praise and Commendation

Just thought I'd share with my readers that the department head praised me very generously upon returning to work from her illness. She was pleased at the job I had done in her absence.

And then, again, our accountant spoke a few words of thanks at the weekly employee meeting, remarking that she was remiss in not mentioning it at the previous meeting. I felt a bit embarrassed. But not nearly as embarrassed as I was satisfied.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Misdirected Praise

I have taken a blow to the ego!

All of my training in a new department was put to the test last week, when the department head came down with bronchitis and took three consecutive days off (Wed, Thurs, Fri). I was ready, and after getting through the week, decided that it was a personal best. I felt very proud of the job I did, and felt confident that she would not have much to clean up upon returning to work.

Well, Thursday night, at the employee meeting, a fellow employee was praised and rewarded for filling in for his department head. Someone yelled out that my department head had also been out. In response, the general manager turned to look at me, said, "Oh, that is right." But instead of giving me a nod or an atta-girl, he simply proceded to another topic. No problem. I would have been embarrassed in front of that crowd anyway.

But Friday, a manager, passed on praise given at his manager's only meeting to the fellow employee and to--you thought I was going to say "me"--Jennifer. She got the credit for the work I had done. And right in front of me at that! I wanted to yell out, "Dude, I'm right here, but I must be invisible!" And she did not defer to me, but drank in every drop of undeserved praise!

I swear, I don't mind flying under the radar, but I'm not trying to be invisible!

To add insult to injury, I later discovered that they were awarded with pay raises for their efforts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Transparent Lies

I have a distinct aversion to liars. All of us lie, but I have never been much for straying from the truth myself. And what I find especially irksome are lies told on the fly with obvious flaws.

I called my mother-in-law to tell her that the weather was too bad to travel, insisting that she should stay home for her safety. Her reply was, “Oh, thanks for thinking of me, but I’m already on my way.” I said, “Really? Because I dialed your land line, not your cell phone,” using my most accusatory tone. She was forced to admit that she had not really left, but was intending to despite my warnings. I suppose that the real offence is that that sort of lie insults my intelligence. As if I would not be able to discern the lie because I could not see her. Come on. And what a stupid thing to lie about!

My boss reprimanded me for logging more hours than we are allotted one week. Well, we generally close at noon on Fridays, and that keeps us all under 38 hours in most cases. One Friday, I was called to another department to care for duties of an absent employee. When noon rolled around, I asked the supervisor whether I should leave or stay to finish the duties. She phoned my boss and obtained permission for me to stay long enough to finish. Well, I finished before I hit 40 hours, so the company did not have to pay out any overtime. However, when my boss was called out in a manager meeting about one of her girls exceeding 38 hours, she caved in. She boldly approached me and reminded me about our policy. I explained that I was under the impression that I did so with her approval. She denied it. I tried to stop her before she went farther, “I was there when Jennifer called you for permission.” But she persisted in trying to sell the lie as truth, insisting that she would never have gone against policy. I decided it best not to pursue it, but I was furious that she would not only lie, but swear it was the truth—even with eyewitnesses against her. Then again, on a subsequent Friday, I was told to be sure to clock out by noon since I was “way over on my time for the week!” I asked how that could be since I had not worked on Monday. That is when her story changed, “Oh, I mean that the timeclock software is all going to be upgraded this afternoon, so we all have to clock out by noon.” Well, then, why was she trying to make it out as if I had done something wrong? Some people just have to be called to the carpet before they will back off.

I have a friend that is well qualified for a managerial position where I work, so I encouraged him to apply. He applied online, but questioned whether his submission was successful or not because he did not receive a confirmation. So, I shot off an email to Gina in Human Resources. She replied that the position was filled 3 weeks ago. Well, I doubt that very much, since that manager would have frequent dealings with the people in my department and these past 3 weeks have not seen any new faces. And, then I have to wonder why the position is still posted on the website after all this time.

Why do people tell such transparent lies? If you don’t believe the lie, how can you convince me of it?

Have you ever seen someone’s eyes get all squinty and shifty when they’re obviously lying? I’ve only seen two people do this in my life. The sneaky, guilty expression gives the truth away, even if their version of the story is air-tight and iron-clad. The first time someone did that in front of me, for a split second, I was sure I would slap the expression right off his face! Some people lie so much that even when they tell the truth, it sounds like hustle.

It is amazing how little need there is for lying when you just do right. It really makes life easy. More people should try honesty. Honesty will naturally come with a sincere facial expression and believable tone.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lie Detecting Duo

My husband (a visual learner) always notices the physical signs of lying, and I (an audio learner) always notice the tone of voice. Together, we’re a lie detecting duo.

But sometimes people reveal more about themselves or the situation by lying. Sometimes it can even be beneficial to feign belief in a lie. My husband is a master at exploiting lies. His mother complained that her trash service was too high and claimed that her bill was $60 for 3 months of service. Well, we live in the same neighborhood and had recently priced the local trash services. We know full well that everyone is charging about $45. Now, I would have gotten satisfaction from calling her out, but my brilliant husband decided to accept the lie. He made a bargain with her that he would pick up her trash for a mere $30 per month. We’re at her home frequently so we can easily load her trash into our pickup truck. Being a single household, she has very little to discard and so her refuse fits neatly in our own dumpster. It is a win-win situation: she gets to keep her lie, save a little money, and see her son once a week; and we only pay $15 out of pocket for trash service.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wrong Number

I was filling in for the receptionist on Friday, when I received an angry call from a man. He started with a hateful tone, "First of all, this is the 7th or 8th call I’ve made to your company and so you ARE going to help me this time!" I assured him that I would do all I could. He had not yet received his W2 forms and was eager to file his income taxes. Well, this made me wonder, because I received mine several weeks ago. Furthermore, our human resources department is extremely diligent and would never have failed to return 7 or 8 messages, even if they had somehow failed to send the forms to the right address. Then he began threatening to go directly to our general manager whose name he could not remember. I explained that our head of HR was currently out of office, but she would be the person best equipped to help him. Still using a nasty tone, he said, "Gina can’t help me because I never worked for your company!" Then he proceeded to tell me that he worked for another company on our campus. That is when I lost it! "First of all," I repeated his words, imitating his tone as best I could, "you need to drop the attitude. And secondly, you need to call your former employer. We have no access to your employment records whatsoever, much less your W2s, so there will be no need for you to call here an 8th, 9th, or 10th time!" Then his whole demeanor changed and he asked very kindly if I might be able to provide him with a phone number. I happened to have it, and so I gave it to him. He apologized and said that he had moved several times and so it may have been sent to an old address. We hung up on better terms, but I thought how easily one could have their mail forwarded, if they’d bothered to fill out a simple form with the US Postal Service.
But he must have reasoned that it would be more useful to call an unrelated business and bully someone several times. The conversation would have gone much differently had he simply lead with, "I was hoping you might provide me with a phone number."

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Smoker

Last night I was leaving Sam’s Club behind a large woman who was leaning heavily on her shopping cart. She was getting along rather slowly, and her plight gave me a bit more patience than I might normally have for someone holding up traffic near a crowded exit. And, as there was little chance of maneuvering around her, the shoppers who were unfortunate enough to be positioned behind her, plodded along with their lips pursed and nostrils flared. I’m sure there was at least one eye roll in the bunch. The gathering foot traffic was pressing in upon me just as the woman reached the doorway. Anxious for our relief to come, and on the threshold of freedom, the woman stopped dead in her tracks. Now I was bumped from behind and my polite restraint vanished. What could be so urgent to bring progress to a complete standstill? The woman presented a cigarette, lit it, and took a deep puff before proceeding at a snail’s pace out the doorway. The instant a gap large enough was found between the doorway and the woman, I made my speedy escape screaming into the night air, "A cigarette! Holding up a store full of people, and for what!?! A cigarette! Of all the SELFISH, INCONSIDERATE—"

Let’s ignore the fact that smoking within 15 feet of a public entrance is illegal. Let’s also ignore the fact that cigarette smoke is highly offensive and a filthy, unhealthy habit, and concentrate on the fact that the woman put her own comfort ahead of everyone else. Her poor health excused some delay, and allowances had been made for what she could not help. But the selfishness associated with lighting her cigarette cannot be excused!

I think that those who depend on others to care for them can easily lose perspective and think of nothing but their own immediate needs and desires. Illness and age should never become an excuse for failing to show consideration to others!