Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tales of a 25%-of-the-Time Snapper

Yesterday I snapped at the receptionist at my daughter's doctor's appointment. I won't go into all of the details, but the gist of it is I was frustrated about something the doctor had said to my daughter and instead of talking about it to the doctor, I took my annoyance out on the receptionist.

She was a nice lady, sitting behind the desk wearing these darling holiday ornament earrings, a detail I did not notice because I was busy snapping at her, but which I was informed about later in the car by my daughter, who told me I was mean and what the heck, Mom?? didn't you see how nice that lady was trying to be to you, and how cute her holiday earrings were?

um. no?

It's like that time you yelled at the cashier in the Dick's Sporting Goods store because a price sticker was mislabled, my daughter reminded me. 

oh yeah. that was bad.

But those are only two examples, I said, defensively. Most of the time I am a very kind person. Like, I'd say that in 75% of all of my interactions with strangers, waitresses, clerks, volunteers of any kind, the people in line at the post office-- I'm nice.

More like 50%, my daughter pointed out.

Crap. Is that true?

because I know what it feels like to be the waitress or the clerk or the volunteer or the person in line at the post office, the one mailing multiple packages and buying stamps while sensing the line growing behind me, the people sighing irritated sighs and glaring at my back, thinking OH MY GOD lady will you hurry the heck up with your packages!!!!

A few weeks ago I made the girl, who has the very unfortunate job of answering the phone in Ohio Republican Congressman Steve Stivers' office, cry. I have talked to this girl before and she has a very soft, dejected-beaten-down-sounding kind of voice and whenever I call the office and she answers, I try to remind myself that she is only answering the phone and not purposely making laws that will hurt me and my friends and my family members the way her boss Steve Stivers does,

but somehow, these thoughts fly out the window when I am on the phone with her and I end up turning snotty and/or ranting

and I tell myself: Whatever! That's HER problem!! Because she works for the Greedy Out-of-Touch Jerk and anyway, this is HER JOB to speak to Disgruntled Constituents! and she is the only recourse for us to vent our worries and fears and horror because it's not like STEVE STIVERS himself is going to answer the phone or hold a townhall or listen to our concerns, so who else are we going to talk to if we have problem?

But then I hang up, vented out and not feeling any better because all I really did is snap at a twenty year old intern,

which occurs to me must be The Worst Customer Service job in the world these days and I hope Steve Stivers is paying her decent money, or will write her a very good recommendation for her next job, and if he needs any help with this, I can vouch for her. "She--whoever she is-- is extremely polite and well-spoken and patient and handles stressful interactions like a pro!" 

When I was in grad school, I worked at a bookstore. One night, I was standing behind the cash register and a woman dumped all of her books and purchases onto the counter in front of me and I smiled at her and said something like, Wow, you've got a lot of things! as I began to ring her up.

She had this weird look on her face and she snapped at me, something along the lines of, Well, pardon me for taking up all of your time.

It hit me that she'd thought I was making some kind of dig about her purchases, when really, what did I care whether someone had one book or 500? I was still standing there cashier-ing, but I didn't know how to explain this, so I just kept ringing up her books and feeling crappier and crappier.

I don't know what this has to do with me yelling at Steve Stivers' hapless intern or my cruddy treatment of the holiday-loving receptionist in the doctor's office, but something I do know is that it can't hurt to remind ourselves that there are real human beings on the other side of our interactions,

the ones picking out cute holiday earrings or schlepping up the steps of the Capitol to answer the phone or toasting new tax bills that will blow up the deficit and take away healthcare and raise poor and middle class people's taxes,

(yeah. sigh. Steve Stivers is a real human being)

and here we are, all of us, standing in lines and picking up phones and toasting and/or freaking out over new tax bills, but today, at least,

let's try to be 100% kind to the people on the other side.


  1. I soooooo can relate! Anna has mentioned on more than one occasion that I wasn't very nice to the clerk, receptionist, etc. Our children see right through us and know exactly what to say when we are not our best selves! Thanks for the reminder to first of all, be kind.

  2. I've been told by my daughter as well, that I took out my feelings on someone who was only doing their job. It sure brings you up short. Although I'm not feeling the season's faith, hope, love, and peace this year and I don't think most of our politicians are living up to the season - I'm really trying to be positive.

    1. I hear you, Susan. And I wish our leaders heard us too!

  3. Jody, 100% of the time I see you, you are 100% nice. This has been a very trying year for all of us, hasn't it? Hugs.