Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I Have the Power

Today I saw something on social media that made me very sad at the state of the world today. On a smaller scale than things that make it to CNN or your local paper, but still something that most likely affects us all on a daily basis. 

I saw a topic of discussion in which the poster proudly bragged on how they have, in a previous job, used their powers to retaliate against unruly customers. They then asked for others to comment on how they have used their positions similarly in the past. None of these responses were criminal. Nothing above grade school "prank" level. But something about reading all these people proudly state how they even the score when they encounter patrons in need of an attitude adjustment honestly broke my heart a little bit. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried for a few minutes too.

I almost always work in some sort of customer relations based position where I always have the "ability" to make someone else's day a little more hellacious than it may already be. But I can't bring myself to abuse that power because I always remind myself that I don't know their struggle. They may have had awful news this morning or have physical pain or a similar person or causing hell in their daily life. Who knows, maybe they just genuinely are an asshole. It's not right for them to take it out on random people they don't know, but all I can say on behalf of the human race is please try your best not to match disgusting human behavior with more of it. 

Everybody's naughty sometimes. And who knows, I am nearly 37 years old. Maybe I have misused my powers before on an occasion that has long since slipped my mind. But in such cases that I have allowed my reactions to be controlled by the actions of another, I have never looked back on it with pride. Only ever remorse. To me, it doesn't feel good to do someone else wrong; to add insult to an injury. Case in point: yesterday I had a woman call me on the phone in a very displeased state. To say that this woman was distressed would be an understatement.  She wanted to speak to someone who was unavailable at the time of her call, and in her state of irritation she confused for a moment my personal life with the one of the woman she was asking for. The conversation went a little like this: 

"This is ridiculous. I need to talk to her right now. I'm tired of this and I don't care if her daughter does have cancer." 

"No, that's my daughter that has cancer."

"Oh. Well I'm sorry but I'm just very upset right now. This is ridiculous and I'm tired of it." 

Not only was her comment unnecessary and crude, it was a bit malicious. I had it within my power to destroy the rest of this woman's day. I could have not passed on her message, not followed up with anyone to get an answer for her. I could ignore every single call she ever makes to this office from this day forward. I would most likely eventually be found out and fired for this but you see my meaning. I could have made things worse. Instead I listened to the rest of her rant and apologized to her for the inconvenience of my inability to have an immediate answer for her. When we hung up I sent the message out."Such-and-such asked A, B and C" and put in motion the means to her end.

Ten minutes later, she called back of her own accord and profusely apologized to me for her behavior. She had had a moment to calm down and deeply regretted her demeanor and was completely ashamed of herself.

We don't always get these moments of reconciliation between wrongfully injured parties, so I can't recommend that you hold your breath waiting for that rude customer from last week to come in and say they're sorry, tip you 90% to make up for it and be on their best behavior from this day forward. But you have the capacity to understand that not everyone has your life, not everyone will understand your pain and sadly, not everyone will care. But people understand kindness and whether they ever say it out loud or even admit it to themselves, kindness can go so far in helping a human chain reaction go in the right direction. Be kind when you're needed and tip the scale in favor of a better tomorrow. 

If anything, confront the issue head on. If it's honestly bad enough to warrant retribution in your eyes, speak up in a professional manner and shut it down. But if it's just enough of an irritation to tempt you into taking a petty approach then please remember yourself, find your scruples and rise above the mud. Your future self will thank you for it.

Don't be like the rest of them, darling.


  1. Nice! Sometimes the best response is just enough silence for people to actually hear what it is they are saying and how exactly they have said it. Good response, girl!

    "But in such cases that I have allowed my reactions to be controlled by the actions of another, I have never looked back on it with pride."
    I completely agree. I hate that feeling you get afterward. like darkness is settling on you... ugh.... it feels gross and sticky for lack of a better word. Good post!