U Mad Bro?

Posted: July 18, 2013 in From Me To You
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I’ve noticed lately that my anger has been getting the best of me. This year I’ve cursed at the gaming screen, I’ve silently screamed at my internet connection, and I’ve expressed much frustration at the quality of customer service. The latter seems to be the most common for me this year, unfortunately. I’ve had a number of problems with customer service this year–I’ve been called the wrong name multiple times in the same conversation with a representative; I’ve had the representative switch which edition of the NATO phonetic alphabet he was using in order to communicate a code to me over the phone (his accent was very much unintelligible to my ears, which disappointed me with this particular very large, very successful corporation); I’ve received orders that did not include all the components listed on the website when I ordered it; and I’ve had equipment just close enough to the functionality line to make me consider keeping them despite the fact that it was missing a key feature, which was also a big selling point. This is not even mentioning any of the timely response issues I’ve had. In all of this, I have found myself constantly crying “Woe is me!”rage face

The problem with this sort of attitude is that it has set me constantly on the lookout for what is coming at me next, what curveball I’m going to have to avoid before I turn the next corner. It has come to color my daily expectations and even my initial conversations with other customer service reps. When software does not work as it is supposed to work or how I think it should work, I instantly go into the proverbial %$?! YOU mode before considering the other ways I could approach the situation. Over time, this begins to ooze out of one’s thoughts toward customer service and travel by osmosis into my initial impressions of products and even my daily conversation.

Like many Americans, I find myself under the spell of our society’s consumerist obsession. I think of myself as the person to please when it comes to business and products. If I’m not right, I must not be valued as a person–and they’re here to serve me anyway, so their opinion of me doesn’t even matter . . . right?

I noticed this in a big way today when I had an issue with iMovie. I was trying to edit a video from a discipleship class that was recorded a few days ago, but the audio and video tracks kept going out of sync. All I wanted to do was add a simple title intro to the video and clip out a blank section from the mic not being on right away. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, it seemed like I couldn’t edit the intro’s length with my mouse one minute, then the next minute it would suddenly change the length instead of the placement. Whenever I tried to replicate this, I couldn’t get it. Then I noticed that the audio track was moving related to the intro rather than the video, from whence it came.

Needless to say, I became very frustrated very quickly, and by the end I was saying words that most of my friends have never heard come out of my mouth. I began thinking about conversations that might come from the video, since it is the first one we’ve done so far (it is primarily for the benefit of the night class, as not everyone can meet in the morning). I very nearly sent the confirmation email to my supervisor at the church (the associate pastor) with some choice words about the program, but I thankfully thought better of it and eased up on the language. Where did all of that come from? Only some of my older friends and my family can tell you just how far my anger issues have gone in the past, though I have progressed very far since my mid-teens. My family could and would certainly tell you that as well.

When I began to reflect on my frustration over iMovie, I realized just how inconsequential the whole issue was. Who is this video for? It’s for a group of people in a discipleship class to maybe watch once, and it is the first candidate to use in advertising the class when it is repeated in the future. There will be so many other videos for me to edit and do right that I was making a mountain out of the proverbial molehill. Why did I have to be angry? Who was going to fault me for a few seconds of muted video? Who was going to dock my pay for such an infinitesimally small inconvenience?

Our lives are really the same, when we think about it. Who cares if that company delivered a headset without the ability to be edited on the computer? They let me return it for a full refund. I used their batteries in testing it out anyway. Why be steamed about the company whose rep called me the wrong name a couple of times? I got a free program out of the deal. And do I really need an aluminum carrying case for my mousepad? The price was already the lowest I found on the internet, and I got half-off for my troubles in the end, too! All these things are related to the obsessions, the unnecessary addictions in my life anyway. They do not pertain to my family’s health, my relationship with my fiancée, my religious foundations, or any other key facets of a good life.

In my selfishness and anger, I failed to recognize the triviality of my situation. Those people who become (even if only hypothetically) the targets of our bitterness is just as much a part of the human race as we are. Beyond that, they are also loved by God as much as we are. Is it the fault of Mary with Hewlett Packard that you dropped your speaker and the faceplate cracked? Is it the fault of Bob with Fender that your amp blows the circuit when you turn it on? Of course not. We must treat the McDonalds waitress with the same respect we desire, even if she spills coffee in our lap. We need to give up our selfishness and realize that the employee who sent you a short reply (which was not in any way rude, by the way) may have had a fight with his wife before he came to work. Have we Americans really lost sight of our Christianity that much, that we consider ourselves better than others? Granted, Paul’s letter to the Philippians was aimed more at internal behavior than external, but the principle of interpersonal humility still rings true.

So the next time you are tempted to curse at the poor quality of a product or service, just take a minute to think about the blessings you have received in the past. And refrain from passing your negative judgments too quickly. The mouse company may send you a completely new, better mouse when all you asked for was a set of replacement feet for your out-of-warranty one. If they do, take the time to thank them for their above-average effort and fantastic attitudes–I know I did.

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