bunt sign

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Apparently I'm a wimp and a wuss for not demanding immediate satisfaction from the Saturn dealer. Instead of taking the service manager's explanations at face value and accepting his assurance that he's doing the right thing, I'm supposed to get loud and scary.

Yeah, well, that's not me. If I can toddle on down the road of life without adding too much to the general level of discord and friction in the world, it makes it a lot easier for me to live with myself. Maybe I do get stepped on once in awhile, but that's a price I'll gladly pay.

I guess that makes me a wimp and a wuss, but I can handle that. I don't even mind the advice, because I know it comes from the heart. But it's sort of like our president's reaction to world opinion. My mind is made up; don't confuse me with facts.

Having worked in retail (and having managed a retail store), I've seen the extremes of interaction between people engaged in a business transaction. I know how dealing with obnoxious customers chafes at a person and makes his or her life miserable. I've seen clerks fight back, and I've been on the razor's edge myself. It's no way to live in a civilized society.

But I've also seen how civility can get so much more accomplished than rudeness. I'm forced to believe that in most cases people will go the extra mile and a half for someone who listens and tries to understand. And that goes in both directions. Everyone gets what they want, and everyone goes home happy. It's not even difficult to make it work that way.

On the other hand, once things get started down the wrong path, the outcome is almost never satisfying to anyone. Instead of interacting, those involved react. They take offense, back each other into corners, and end up saying or doing something that can't be taken back. Once everyone is on the defensive, it gets hard to make much progress.

The man who taught me everything I know about business (which isn't all that much, come to think of it) had a philosophy about sales. He said that the salesperson's job was to solve the customer's problem. If you can do that, he told me, the rest of it would take care of itself. He was successful for many years in his line of work, and he could go home content with himself every night.

Before I assume someone I'm doing business with is trying to take advantage of me, I always give them the chance to prove it. I go into a transaction thinking everyone involved will be honest and straightforward, and I'm rarely disappointed. That's the way I want the world to be, so that's the way I live.


Another sign of the coming spring, just beyond my back yard.

I know I get taken advantage of at my own job, but I give as good as I get. Well, almost as good. I take a bit of the advantage back by working at home, unsupervised, on a schedule that I lay out for myself. Mostly. Sometimes I'm needed after regular hours, but I can always find a way to recoup that time.

Sure, I was working after six tonight, on something that could easily have been handled during the day. But I also went to lunch with Suzanne this afternoon, then came home and took a little nap. I'm convinced it all evens out, in the long run.

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For lunch today, we went to a vegetarian place in Sebastopol called Slice of Life. We end up there fairly often. I had the tempeh burger with barbecue sauce. The sauce was really good, and the tempeh was good for me, so it all worked out. Plus, this was my first chance to ride in Suzanne's red red Mustang. Whee!

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Too Early to Tell
"'You curling fans have heard enough hockey talk, so let's go back to the Ice Sheet in Ogden.' Well thanks for throwing us a bone, Jim."

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