We are all working on things in our lives, enduring hardships, job loss, family members being sick or dying, our children growing up and moving all over the place, choices they make about friends, places to live. Some days we are doing good to just keep smiling! So when you couple that with everyone you meet that day may be going through the same hardships, trials, joys and sorrows, I think we may be lucky we don’t all go off on each other!
So when events conspired yesterday to do just that, I had to stop and examine what civility is all about and realize I still don’t have a good handle on my own civility, but I have to keep trying!I began the day okay, getting to work, training three altar servers at Mass, praying for my mom and my brother who were traveling out of town to the funeral of one of my cousins, answering a multitude of phone calls that morning coming into the office, so when I left for lunch I was starving and looking forward to that little bit of down time with my hubs and something to eat.
I got into my car and turned the key. Nothing…hmm…weird, I have had my car for 10 years and can count on one hand the number of times I could not drive it because of mechanical problems. Try again…nothing…dead battery. Okay, call the hubs cause I know he’s home and ask him to bring the jumper cables.
I stand outside my car waving at all the parents picking them kids up from Vacation Bible school at noon, until help comes. Wonderful hubs jumps the car battery and we toodle home where, when I try to start it again it still is dead.
While we eat lunch he tries to charging up the battery. Still nothing, so we must need a new battery. This one was only guaranteed for 5 years and guess what? It’s been exactly five years. So forget the rest of lunch it’s off to the auto parts store.
The guy at the store tries to test the battery…can’t get his tester to work…goes to the “big tester” but there’s another battery on it. Tells us, it may be 30 minutes to an hour before he can test our battery…do we want to wait? No, I have to get to work. So hubs gives him our phone number and takes me back to work.
I got busy, answering phones, searching for lost church banners in the hot basement of church, get back to my office and realize two and half hours have gone by and no word from hubs on the battery. Call him. He is not happy…he had to call the parts store because they never called in the 30 – 60 minutes they promised. They said it was done but needed to talk to us. Forboding feeling…hmmm… hubs picks me up. We walk into the parts store, the guy who worked with us earlier is nowhere in sight, a new guy assists. We find out our battery is still on the tester with a note that says it’s dead.
Looks like we need a new battery, so he begins looking for the correct serial number and while he is showing us our choices on a computer screen, another clerk walks by with our battery in her arms and follows another customer outside to her car.Hubs and I look at each other and back at the clerk helping us and tell him she walked out with our battery. When she walks back in, he questions her. She’s sure it was her customer’s battery and the one left behind was ours. Nope, we have the serial number of ours and it doesn’t match the one left on the counter!
She runs back out to retrieve our battery which is now in the car that is leaving the parking lot and pounds on the window yelling, “You have the wrong battery,” and brings it back in.Now, the original guy who waited on us, who is the manager, comes out to help. He begins explaining about all the emails from corporate he had to answer and that’s why he ‘forgot’ about our battery, and calling us.
I have to be honest, I didn’t feel like listening to his reasons for forgetting about us. But we listened, but we weren’t exactly happy about having spent so much time just trying to get a new car battery and while we didn’t rant or rave at them about it we expressed our dismay that it has taken them all afternoon to find this out and no body bothered to call us like they promised. The manager did upgrade the battery we had chosen for the same price. We completed our transaction and said goodbye.Thinking about this today, I must admit I wish I had been nicer, more understanding, seen it for the opportunity to laugh and shrug it off. But at the time, neither my hubs nor I could react that way. And while we didn’t yell at anyone, or demand a bigger discount than what the manager did give us, we felt put upon and did not have a very positive attitude when we left the store.
We all see things from different perspectives, whether you are a customer, a clerk, a student or teacher, a parent or a child…each of us has feelings and emotions that can color how we see things. We all too, have bad days, or days which all of us are so busy we forget the task at hand or what someone has asked us to do for them. I am just as guilty of forgetting things in my job that I’ve been asked to do as was the clerk who forgot about our battery.The point is we truly need to try to see things from everyone’s side, not point fingers, realize we will all experience disappointment, not be satisfied and that things in life aren’t always fair or are too much trouble and time.
I can’t imagine what had been going on in the day for that manager or those two clerks. They were most likely having the same busy day I was having.So, what I got out of my lesson in civility this week was this: To be more accepting of my limitations and other people’s limitations, and not letting that upset me and in fact, not even irritate me because humanity begs for civility from each of us and what right do we have to not try to use more civility in our society?