Thursday, June 12, 2008

Firm Politeness

Every day we get the chance to decide what kind of a day we’ll have. Good, bad, happy, sad, calm, angry. It all depends on how we view the world, and what can be reasonable anticipated as a logical outcome given the information we have.
And that brings me to yesterday’s misadventure.

My husband and I sent letters of protest to federal elected officials about a bill currently before Parliament. Bill C-51 seeks to control alternate health substances to the point of what is tantamount to illegal search and seizure.
Under it if a supplement is deemed bad it can be seized from store shelves without compensation to the owner. Further, a major portion of health supplements would be taken off the shelves. This is due to some extreme regulation nonsense from a few years ago wherein Health Canada has been busily dragging its feet on necessary approvals.
In short, said bill would hose us ostensibly for our own good. That’s a subject for another post, though. Today’s point is about the Post Office.

Bills to Members of Parliament, if addressed to the House of Commons, are sent postage-free. We can rant and rave and rail and thank our elected politicians by snail mail at no cost to ourselves. This is a good thing.

I had a feeling when I popped the unstamped letters in the mail on Tuesday that I’d see them again. I was not disappointed.
Some poor thing at the local outlet of Canada Post put them back in the box with the handwritten message “Postage required.”
I had a choice. I could be upset and stomp down there and tell off someone for being a complete and total idiot. I could rant and rave about not knowing your job and wonder rhetorically how stupid are you? Or how stupid do you think we are?
But, you know what? Everyone screws up and not everyone knows the letters were postage- free. Yes, when you work for Canada Post you ought to know that. But if it’s someone new he or she isn’t going to know everything.

In the great scope of the world this is barely an inconvenience. It is by no stretch anything to froth at the mouth over. I had a choice. I could screech or I could be polite but firm.
I walked the few blocks to the post office, held up the letters to point out the “postage required” notation and said, “No, they don’t.”

The person I dealt with agreed and the matter was taken care of in a few seconds. Whoever wrote the note knows by now s/he was wrong and was spared public humiliation.
A problem was cleared up with firm politeness. It’s how I’d want to be treated. Wouldn’t you?


Hilary said...

Your attitude is a good one, Leah. I know there are times that I'll let my annoyance show more than the situation merits. Just because I've been inconvenienced doesn't mean I should return that "favour." Good thoughts to keep in mind.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, Hilary. I try to keep things in perpective and to treat people the way I want to be treated.

the Bag Lady said...

dfLeah - I've always been a firm believer in firm politeness. :) Rarely do I lose my temper in minor situations. Mostly because when I lose my temper, I also start to cry, which really undermines the message that I'm angry.....

bunnygirl said...

It's always better to start out being polite. Otherwise one runs the risk of getting into a dispute over something that the other party might be quite happy to correct otherwise.

I like your comment about deciding what kind of day to have. Lately I've been trying to see life as a sort of river that we all have to go down, but each day I get to choose which boat to ride on. If I'm going to the same place as the folks on the happy boat, why ride the grumpy boat?

Leah J. Utas said...

dfBag Lady - Keeping one's temper in check tends to get the matter taken care of more quickly.
Good for you.

Bunnygirl - I like your river idea. And you're right. The Happy Boat gets there too, and you probably have a lot more fun on it.

Missicat said...

Great post! Bunnygirl said what I came to say - starting out in a polite manner is always the way to go...sometimes you just don't know what caused the mix-up. I always have to remind myself: they didn't do it JUST to irritate me! Though it seems so sometimes. :-) Also - the people who rant and rave at servicer workers - aren't they the ones who look like idiot?

the Bag Lady said...

I wanna ride the Happy Boat with Leah and Bunnygirl!!

Reb said...

Having been on the service side as well as the customer side, I do try to approach muck ups calmly. I know for a fact that being pissy about it will just result in my dealing with your problem in the slowest fashion possible. With the "high powered entitled people", that just pisses them off more ;) Yes, I can be evil!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Bravo, df Leah,

I vote to put you in charge of international civility!

And Reb, I am loving your evil side in dealing with "high powered, entitled people."


Reb said...

Thanks Terrie!

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, Missicat. Yes, the ones who rail at the people who serve them are less that stellar in my view.

Good for you, Reb. It's what they deserve.

dfTerrie - Thanks. I'd love to be in charge of that for one day. Just one.

oh, and df Bag Lady, there's room on the Happy Boat for everyone.

Sorry I haven't been around to respond until now, but I went for a drive up the Jasper-Banff Parkway today.
300 miles and still no goats. Sigh.

Frank Baron said...

Good on you Leah. I'm not sure if I could have handled it without unleashing at least a drop or three of sarcasm.

Your forbearance is admirable. :)

(You didn't, by chance, kick the dog when you got home?) ;)

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, Frank.
And no small animals suffered for it either.