Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's a Virtue


Patience is a tricky thing. We all have desires. We all get annoyed by things. Personally, there are times that I have difficulties in dealing with people. I don't enjoy waiting for things. I like results to be instantaneous. My version of hell is me, waiting at a bus stop, listening to someone tell me about their crazy dream from last night, while I'm holding my wrapped Christmas present.

Ugh. Thinking about that just gave me a knot in my shoulder blade. It's human nature to react strongly to seeing something that we desire greatly. We turn into excitable dogs waiting for a treat. Ooooo Heath Bar Ice Cream? Yes! I want that! Why won't you give that to me? Want to see me roll over? No, that didn't do it for you? Crap, I just peed myself a little. Do you see what happens when I don't get want I want? Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee!!!

We are born to be impatient. How we react to those tempting situations is how our patience is displayed. If we are able to quell the desire to punch someone in the ear, or the temptation to honk in a traffic jam, or the longing to steal the pair of hot pants that you can't afford, we can then be described as being a patient person.

My boss cannot be described as one of these people. I'm used to it at this point, as demonstration of his impatience has become a daily occurrence. However, at first it can be a little offputting. Let me give you an example:

We have a postage machine in my office. It's handy. There's a scale, and a push button menu, and a little tray that will stamp letters for you. I use it every day. I will admit that the machine is not the most user friendly. It possesses a wide variety of error messages that can lead to frustration. PC Load Letter? WTF?

However, if you take time to read the message and process the information it gives you, the troubleshooting becomes easier to navigate. My office-mate (we'll call her Mike) has become something of an expert at the postage machine. With her and a little patience, there's nothing we can't properly stamp.

Last week, Richard came into the office with three large envelopes to stamp. He approached the machine and started pushing buttons. After several minutes the frequency of the button pushing increased. A couple more minutes went by and the swearing began. I started feeling bad for the machine. He didn't ask for my help or Mike's. He exited in a huff and I didn't think twice about it.

Until fifteen minutes later. Richard came back into the office and we spoke to the postage machine's help line. The customer service rep started walking Richard through the process. Buttons were pushed. Everything seemed to be working...

...and then the error message appeared...

Richard grabbed the phone. He began swearing at the help line, and pushing more buttons. More error messages appeared. The buttons must have been screaming in pain at that point. Richard told the help line guy that his machine was completely f-ed, and demanded that they send someone to fix it. He hung up the phone and continued to jab at the machine. $40 worth of postage and several offensive phrases later, Richard had three stamped envelopes. I thought the matter was resolved.

I was out of the office the next day. Apparently Richard called the help line again, cussed out the help representative, and set up an appointment to have the machine fixed. A rep came into the office and walked him through the process of stamping his packages. Office-mate Mike had all of the necessary information, but Richard wanted professional help.

This still wasn't enough for him. According to Mike, Richard yelled at the rep again and exited the room in an angry, belligerent state. The rep left, the postage machine cried, and we still don't know if Richard can properly stamp a package.

To top it off, I received an invoice from the postage people yesterday. The office visit is going to end up costing the company $405. That's three hours of travel and consulting at $135 per hour. All because Richard couldn't take the time to read the error messages or ask my office mate, Mike, how to properly stamp his envelopes.

We are all impatient. It's understandable. A little restrain, however, goes a long way. It also helps prevent $400 invoices.

-More to come...

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