A Little Kindness…
Note: This was supposed to have been published yesterday 3/27/2014 but we experienced some technical difficulties (i.e. the Time Warner Cable merge with AT&T is causing interruptions and so I was without internet off and on all day.) So, for today you get two posts. This one and the regularly scheduled poetry post.
And no small amount of patience, goes a long way. Apparently, the universe heard my plea for something interesting to happen today. It was a small thing but it definitely broke up the boredom of the past two days. See, a couple of weeks ago I went through the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport toll booths. I was coming back from dinner out with the kids and due to all of the construction that is taking place on EVERY MAJOR HIGHWAY in this area (sorry-still wondering which person I take my tennis racket to for THAT brilliant idea) we ended up missing the exit we needed and had to go through the airport. No problem. I have a tolltag account so it gets charged $1 every time I need to go through the airport. Except that there was a problem and we ended up having to look for quarters to pay to get through this time. Well, that didn’t make any sense to me. While I was waiting for the person in the tollbooth to see if they could look something up, I pulled up my account on my phone (thank the gods for smartphones) and saw there was nothing wrong with my account. Money was there and I even went ahead and added more just to be safe. We came up with the $1 and left. I called the tollway authority the next day and they said everything was fine. Flash forward to a few days ago when I got a notice in the mail from the airport saying that I owed them $66 for parking. Uh, no. I should have called them right away but I got busy and then forgot about it until this morning. I called the tollway authority again who said everything was fine on their end and then the very nice lady on the line gave me the number to the airport parking garage. Now, I’d had to deal with these people a year ago when they charged me $144 FOR THE SAME REASON.
Now, I am not a confrontational person. I believe everything can be handled in a nice manner no matter how horrible the other people are on the other end. Maybe they have had to deal with people being unkind and impatient. And since I have worked in positions where I’ve had to deal with irate people myself I have always kept in mind that a cool manner is the best manner. Patience is required when dealing with people who are already upset to begin with. Sometimes that patience catches them off guard and I have even had people who were irate thank me for my good attitude. BUT, last year, there was this one person that caused me to lose my patience with this same exact problem on my tolltag. You see, one year ago, the airport decided to change the way the tollbooths worked. I think what they are doing is trying to cut back on their employees. So, most of the tollbooths now are unmanned. What I think they are trying to convert to is the same kind of system we have in place on our highway 161 (the President George Bush Turnpike). There are no booths there, just camera operated stalls, and they charge you whether you have a tolltag or not by capturing a picture of your license plate, looking up the owner information, then sending an invoice to the last address on file for the owner on file. There’s a whole lot of trouble that has already caused but nothing that hasn’t been taken care of easily. So, back to what happened.
Last year, due to these changes that the airport was making, when I would go through the airport tollbooths, it would only register my going in but not coming out. Three weeks later I got a charge on my credit card for $144 because the airport was saying I parked my car in the airport for a week. No. I live ten minutes away from the airport. I would never park my car there because that’s ridiculous for me. I have neighbors or friends who can take me to the airport. Saves me money. Obviously. So, I called up the tollway authority then and they gave me a number to call. And get this, the tollway authority showed me going AND coming out, and they were also able to tell me that there were hundreds of accounts having this same problem. I called the number I was given and talked to someone there who insisted I parked my car. I kept saying no as nicely as I could but he was adamant I did and I was not going to be given a refund. I asked him to run my plates and he’d be able to see that I had not parked at the airport. He refused. I told him to call up the tollway authority, put us on a conference call, and they can confirm what I am telling you. “No ma’am I can’t do that.” Ok, well that would be a wrong answer, may I please speak to your supervisor. “There’s no one available right now but I can have someone call you.” (I hate those words. They never call back.) No, I’d like to speak to someone now, please. “Click…..dial tone.”
Oh no, he did not just hang up on me. I called back and got someone else and explained the situation and told that person the gentleman’s name who hung up on me. Now, I did not raise my voice. I was not unreasonable. But you don’t hang up on me just because I ask for a supervisor. I asked the woman I got at the time to let me speak to a supervisor and lo, and behold, I got one. Not only did I get my money back but I received an apology and was told that they would be looking into the call because they record every call. Thank you, I appreciate that.
So, today, the same thing has happened again but I was only being charged $66. I called the number the kind lady at the tollway authority gave me, which is a completely new number than last time, and within minutes my charge went from $66 to the $2 I actually owed for going through two days in a row. Both ladies I talked to, the one at the tollway authority and through the airport’s customer service, were pleasant and kind. They in return received my kindness, my patience, and my gratefulness for their help and kindness.
I have never understood why people think you have to yell and scream at customer service people. I’ve listened to people actually brag about it and tell me that it’s the only way to get things done. I have never had to yell or become irate except twice and those were extreme situations. Those would have tried Job’s patience. I think we need to just remember that we are all in this together. I know there are people out there who don’t care about others. I know it’s easier to yell and get red in the face than to breathe deeply and remain calm. But losing our tempers when things aren’t going our way doesn’t seem like the best answer. I struggle with my own temper. I’m not quick to take offense but if you keep pushing me, eventually I will explode. Granted, it actually takes quite a bit to get me to that point, (unless you are my kids, in which case they know which buttons to push) but I try hard to remember that blowing up at someone isn’t worth it. It’s not worth the stress. It’s not worth the energy. There are better ways of handling certain situations. And I”m not trying to preach here. I”m just saying try to remember that you reap what you sow. A smile gets me a smile in return usually as well as kindness begets kindness. You might just be surprised next time if you just try to remember that.
Hope you guys are having a great Thursday. Mine has been pretty good.