Tag Archives: bad days

For Whom the Bell Tolls

We just got a bell at work. It sits on our customer service counter; small, shiny, silver-chrome, loud.

*ding*
The bell. Or as most of us at work call it; “that damn bell.”
*ding*
“There goes that damn bell again.”

You see, we’re not used to the bell. We’ve never needed one before. But hours have gotten so tight, and personnel has been reduced so much that apparently we now need one.

The reasoning is sound enough (pardon the pun.) With the bell there, those of us assigned to the customer service desk can feel free to do tasks away from the desk without checking in every thirty seconds to see if a customer needs help. Feel free to do busywork until, *ding*, customer time!

I guess that’s part of my problem. What was once touted as “award-winning customer service” that for years our company prided itself on (at least to its staff and shareholders) has been reduced to . . . a bell.

The other part of my problem, probably a significant part of it, is strictly personal . . .

*ding*
“You’re not doing your job.”
*ding*
“You’re not moving fast enough.”
*ding*
” . . . loser.”

Yes, it’s personal. I’ve always taken customer service personally. That’s why I get so worked up over issues I can’t resolve or customer’s I can’t satisfy. I take it personally. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Nonetheless I know, it’s silly, right? Some of you have probably worked in retail environments where a bell was commonplace. But, as I said, where I work, we’ve never needed one before. Customer service was our job, our livelihood. It’s what set us apart. Tethering yourself to the customer service desk, if that was your assignment, was your job, your position, your post as it were. Nothing was more important than the customer.

Now what are we telling them? Now you have to go, *ding*, otherwise we’re too busy for you?

It’s probably just me. My wife tells me that I have an issue with having been reduced to being at a customer’s beck and call.

*ding*
“Here, boy.”

In a way—probably a big way—she’s more than likely right. Yet, for my own feelings of self-worth more than anything, I’d like to think there is more to it than that. I suppose, when it comes right down to it, staffing has been reduced to the point where those few of us who remain are being asked/told to “do more” and “do faster” by those few who remain in the management/corporate positions above us. And now, with a small, shiny, loud, silver bell, the customer is able to say the very same thing.

*ding*
This is great for morale by the way.
*ding*
Still, I suppose we’ll eventually get used to it.
*ding*
After all, at this point it’s still new.
*ding*
But it’s getting old really, really quickly.

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If You’re Reading This . . . The World has NOT Ended! (sorry)

If this particular post seems rushed or disjointed I hope you’ll forgive me.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in preparing it on the off chance that Harold (Mr. End-of-The-World) Camping was actually correct . . . . this time.  Mr. Camping has predicted that the end of the world is nigh.  Actually the end of the world will happen on October 21st . . . or today. (Good thing I have my blog set on “auto-post”)

Mr. Camping is famous (or infamous) for his end-times predictions, most famously in 1994 (he wrote a whole book about it), and May of this year.  Many of his followers actually followed his revelation five months ago and sold all their possessions or took extravagant trips prior to his predicted end date.

Oops.

Ironically, many of his own staff at Family Radio International were skeptical of his prediction and continued working as normal up to the promised judgement. (Typical employees . . . never listening to the boss, just going around doing their own thing).

About the prediction in May Mr. Camping clarified his slight miscalculation in math by saying:

What really happened this past May 21st ? What really happened is that God accomplished exactly what He wanted to happen. That was to warn the whole world that on May 21 God’s salvation program would be finished on that day. For the next five months, except for the elect (the true believers), the whole world is under God’s final judgment. To accomplish this goal God withheld from the true believers the way in which two phrases were to be understood. Had He not done so, the world would never have been shaken in fear as it was.

Got that?  He was right, but wrong, but right.  So now he has pinpointed his position–and timing–(sort of) to October 21st:

“The end is going to come very, very quietly probably within the next month…by October 21st,” said Camping in a radio address delivered earlier this month. “Probably there will be no pain suffered by anyone because of their rebellion against God…We can become more and more sure that they’ll quietly die and that will be the end of their story.”

It’s unfortunate because my in-laws were going to have this really big garage sale today.  We hired a new employee where I work that was supposed to start today.  I still have two bags of Kettle jalapeno potato chips in the cupboard.

What a waste.

But . . .

On the off chance you’re reading this, I’m sorry happy to tell you that the world has NOT, repeat NOT ended.  However, to illustrate what most likely could and should have occurred, I give you NMA.TV:

Actually, all you have to do is look to the Bible.  Jesus Himself spoke of when the end of times would be . . .

Matthew 24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father.

. . . actually he didn’t, did he?

So if Jesus Himself doesn’t know, why are we–or certain factions of “we”– so obsessed by the “End Times” (cue dramatic music!)?  Personally, I like Alfred E. Neuman’s outlook better anyway . . .

“What me worry?”

Look, if you’re awaiting the return of Jesus, and your heart is right with God, what does it matter when the end of the world occurs?

If you’re awaiting an accurate prediction of when the world will end just so you can get your act together in time . . . you’re doing it wrong.

And if you don’t believe ANY of this . . . who cares?

See you Monday.

Or not.

To Lynette wherever you are: I’m Sorry

I’ve been thinking about a relationship I had years ago, several years even before I met my wife.

What I’ve been thinking about specifically is the way it ended.

Badly.

I don’t remember details of what was said exactly. I do remember what I said at the time I meant in such a way that it would both hurt and leave her wishing we’d never broken up. I know, weird combination, right? And now, twenty-five or more years later, with at least a touch more maturity and experience on my side, I wonder what would’ve ever caused me to do that? What makes any of us intentionally hurt those we regularly interact with or those we once loved? (Don’t shrug your shoulders at me, we’ve all been there!)

I know, at the time, I too was hurt and angry. Maybe it was simply a lashing out thing. Maybe it was an ego thing, which makes me think of situations at work even today that instill the very same feelings. I get customers who ask what, to them, are very simple straight-forward questions. Yet at the time and for whatever reasons, to me they just seem inane, or an annoyance; a hindrance to whatever it is I should be doing. So I’ve found myself, in answering their question, doing so in such a way that through tone or body language pretty much lays that out. Again, I feel upset or angry, so I let them know. Which, believe it or not, really isn’t that conducive to a positive customer service experience, and is why I’m really making a conscious effort not to do so anymore.

I don’t know if it’s so much ego or pride, but either way I’ve got an obvious problem with both. And they’re both apparently huge: Great hulking 800 lb. gorilla-like things living inside my brain waiting to pummel someone senseless who dares shatter either one’s fragility.

It’s a bit of an issue.

And I’ve apparently had it (or them) for years.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Think about your first reaction when you’re on the freeway and some low-speed jerk decides to cut you off . . .

. . . Yup, that’s them!  Pride and Ego, aren’t they wonderful?

I’ve really been taking myself to task over this lately and it hasn’t been easy. They’ve got about forty-plus years of experience on me and they’re good at their job. Plus they’re smooth . . . There are times I don’t even know they’re sneaking up on me until they strike. Then I’m like, “Did I just say that? Out loud??”

Oops.

It doesn’t take a person of faith to understand and address issues of pride. Of course there’s the biblical quote: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

But there’s also:

Pride is seldom delicate; it will please itself with very mean advantages.
Samuel Johnson

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.
C. S. Lewis

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
Dale Carnegie

Let pride go afore, shame will follow after.
George Chapman

In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.
John Ruskin

He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise.
William Shakespeare

In other words, it’s a bad thing.

So Lynette, wherever you are, I’m sorry. Sorry for the things I said, and sorry for the hurt I’m sure I caused all those years ago. I would like to say it was Pride talking, or maybe Ego. But both need a mouthpiece, a voice, a messenger to carry the words toward their destructive end instead of drowning them in the well of self-respect where they should have perished in the first place. But both are powerful adversaries, and I lost that battle, just as I’ve lost many others since then even up to this day.

And that’s certainly nothing to be proud of.

Thankfully the battle’s not over. It may take the rest of my life, and probably will, but I hope to get there. I hope to get to that place where Pride is not an issue; where my Ego remains in check and I can address people, regardless of their own demeanor, with humility and grace.

I’m not there yet, as anyone who knows me and/or works with me can well attest. My temper can flair with the best of them. But I think it’s enough for now to acknowledge that I’m a work in progress. And as long as there is progress, that’s enough for now.

And that is something to be proud of.

Alright Devil; You Wanna Dance? Let’s Dance.

New highs and new lows were explored at work today; mostly lows. But I had an epiphany on the way home tonight that I think merits sharing. (Gotta love those back road drives to unwind.) But first a little background . . .

Well, for detailed background you probably should start with “Dear God, I’m Tired of Growing”, but I’ll fill you in from there . . .

We’ve started up with a home group to begin a series of studies entitled “40 days of love”. It’s a study on how to build or improve relationships using the biblical principles of love: You know, “Love the Lord with all your Mind, Soul, Heart and Strength . . . and love your neighbor as yourself”, the teachings of Paul in Corinthians, and so on. Well, at the end of each get together, we’re going to be given an informal “homework” assignment to help us establish or build on relationships with the people around us. This week we were asked to pray to God to help us show love to those people we come in contact with on a daily basis. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

Those of you who’ve spent any time reading this blog already know where I’m heading with this . . .

Yup, I had one of those days.

Not only one of those days, I had possibly the worst day of work I’ve had in a very, very long time. It made the days leading up to “Dear God, I’m Tired of Growing” look like a cake walk.

At one point, I had to stop right in the middle of work and post a quick Twitter text (kind of a prayer-chain hotline):

In a crappy-ass mood @ work. So sick & tired of it. Lord, move or move me!

All night I was thinking, “Why do I do this to myself? I should know better than to pray something like that.”

What is it about those types of prayers that lead into those types of days? I’ve touched on this before with, “Whatever You Do, Don’t Pray for Patience” and I got to thinking about the whole, “God doesn’t grant you patience, He grants you opportunities to practice patience” adage.

I’m not so sure it’s Him at all.

You see; what if it’s not God giving us opportunities to practice patience? What if, instead, it’s the enemy seizing an opportunity to undermine our confidence and faith, not to mention any prospect to be an “accurate reflection of Jesus” to the world? Look at it this way: Not only does he get us into a season of doubt; he also uses our frustration and anger in ways that, to those people around you who look to you as a “Christian” example, would make them go, “Is that what Jesus looks like? No thanks.”

Trust me, I know. I wouldn’t want to be like me during these times, why would anyone else who has to be around me?

So here’s where I’m at . . .

Alright Devil; you wanna dance? Let’s dance! (I have the biggest urge to let my inner Samuel L. Jackson come out . . . anyone who’s seen “Snakes on a Plane” knows what I’m talking about!) ‘Cuz I’m gonna be praying it again tonight. And tomorrow. And the day after.

I have a hard time believing my job could get much worse, but hey, bring it on! I don’t think it will. I think that would be too noticeable and the enemy is more about stealth and subtleties. I also don’t think it will get better anytime soon. That too would prove me right and why would he give me the satisfaction.

Of course one may ask why God would let any of this happen in the first place.

Three reasons I think . . .

First, because this is the world we’ve created and we need to learn to navigate it. It’s about free will; about the choices we make. We can give in to the emotion and frustration of the moment and severe any chance to truly show love, now or in the future depending on the person you act out on; or we can continually choose to listen to that voice of strength and reason within us; placed there for the very reason to help us through circumstances just like this (pick a Psalm, any Psalm. David knew a thing or two about these situations).

Second, at least in my own case, things will eventually get better, and afterwards I’ll have a more thorough understanding of the “what’s” and “why’s” so that maybe I can help someone else chart these waters in the future. This would not only be a chance to show love, but empathy and understanding as well.

Third, because when I do get through this, it won’t be because of any of my own doing. I’m fully aware that I have no control of the surroundings of my life at the moment. Any success will come only through the grace and timing of God and so to Him will go all the glory: In His own timing, as it should be.

I know I can’t do this. That was abundantly clear weeks ago during, “Dear God, I’m Tired of Growing”. But, at least now I’m beginning to gain an understanding of why and, at least for tonight, it’s helping to ease the frustration and helplessness. I’m actually kind of jacked; I’m ready for a fight!

I’m a-gonna go pray now . . .

Let’s dance!