Monday, April 30, 2012

There is still more pride.

Matthew 4: 1-11, 5: 21-22Luke 6: 42

I seriously need to get over myself.  Every time I think I have everything all figured out, I get this powerful, triumphant feeling that leads right back to the beginning, right back to the I'm smarter, better, hotter, more compassionate, more sensitive, more mature, less judgmental, less craven than everyone else place that only means I have learned nothing.  Please take this opportunity to laugh at me the way I am laughing at myself.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Customer Service, Part 6

Mark 10: 42-44, Matthew 25: 34-40, Matthew 5: 43-48

DH and I went to see the Titanic exhibit at our favorite museum.  I have heard a lot about Titanic in the past, and the exhibit was surprisingly evocative, designed to inspire in the viewer the same emotions that the passengers may have felt at each stage of the voyage and wreck.  But what struck me the most was how much information the exhibit had about the crew of the Titanic.  No where else have I heard so much about the employees who made the ship run, and how they lived and died in it.  Not many people know that the crew was the largest class of passenger on the ship, and that more of them lived, and far, far more of them died, than any other class.  Much has been made of the uneven proportions of survivors among first, second, and third class passengers, but this is the first telling of the Titanic story that I have heard in which the employees of the ship were counted next to those they served.

I identified very much with the crew, both those who left the ship and survived, and those who stayed behind and did their jobs for the safety and comfort of the other passengers.  I can see both sides of the decision.

On the one hand, every customer is a human being just like me, with a family and a God who loves them, and deserves the very best I have to offer, every moment of every day.  On the other hand, if I have one more snooty jerk question my competence, interrupt me helping another customer, or let their kids use my store as a playground I'm going to drown someone with my bare hands.

Last night, while I was helping one customer, a second customer snuck up behind me and whispered her request in my ear.  Not only am I unimportant enough to interrupt, apparently I am not even worthy of personal space.  And she had the nerve to call me rude.  Everything Jesus said about humility and service kind of goes out the window for me in situations like that, and I have to admit that I am not the open, Liberal, accepting Christian I like to think I am.

I'm Christian, unless you're rude.  If you have not yet read this post by blogger Single Dad Laughing, you really should.  Not just because it's a good post, but because I'm referencing it here, this passage in particular:

“I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.”

That’s the message we’re sending, you know.
“I’m Christian, unless I’m hotter than you.”
“I’m Christian, unless I’m uglier than you.”
“I’m Christian, unless I found out you cheated on your income taxes.”
“I’m Christian, unless you cut me off in traffic.”
“I’m Christian, unless you fall in love with the person I once fell in love with.”
“I’m Christian, unless you’re that guy who smells like crap on the subway.”
“I’m Christian, unless you’re of a different religion.”
“Oh, but you’re not gay? You’re clean, and well dressed, and you have a job? You look the way I think you should look? You act the way I think you should act? You believe the things I think you should believe? Then I’m definitely a Christian. To you, today, I’m a Christian. You’ve earned it.”

See, I like to get all self-righteous about how I don't judge people, and how I am so much better than other Christians because I don't get hung up on everyone else's 'sins', but I do get hung up on other people's sins, all the time.  I guess it just depends on whether I feel victimized by those sins, and therefore, those people.

Because I am totally cool with gays.  I feel compassion for women who have made tough decisions about complicated pregnancies.  When customers at the store need to mail books to their relatives in prison, I am kind and discreet.  Some of my best friends are Republicans.  And some more of my best friends are Atheists.  I even have a tax collector in the family. (DH's cousin works for the IRS.)

But if you are rude to me at my job, I will call curses down on you for the rest of the day.  I am extremely touchy about it.  And lately, I have noticed it more and more.  Rudeness in general is on the rise, but interruption in particular.  Every customer seems to think that they are not only more important than me, but also more important than all the other customers, too.

It has been constant, and I am not the only employee who has noticed.  When we are talking to one customer, a second one will simply walk up and start talking, too, as though the first one did not exist.  Sometimes, they do it because they are in a hurry, or overly enthusiastic about their selections, or they think that their question is so easy and inconsequential that it will not count as an interruption.  Let me tell you, folks, there is no such thing as 'a quick question.'  Every time a customer tells me they have 'a quick question,' they always need more help than normal.  In my business 'a quick question' is Customer Code for: 'Forget about helping anyone else, you're going to spend the rest of the day with me.'

You can see how much this upsets me.  I'm very concerned with my own dignity, I want more than anything sometimes to be treated with copious respect, even deference.  Retail is a difficult career for someone as full of pride as I am.  I love that last line of Single Dad Laughing's passage: "You've earned it."  Yes, I harbor a secret wish to treat every customer not as Jesus would treat them, but as they have treated me.  I assume that however they treat me, must be how they deserve to be treated.  But as the most prideful wretch of them all, maybe I'm just getting the treatment I deserve.  Maybe I've earned it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I like my crutches.

Proverbs 31: 6-7, Ecclesiastes 2: 1, Proverbs 10: 4, John 5: 6

Yesterday, as thunderstorms rolled across our little corner of the world, DH unplugged everything electronic worth over twenty dollars (that we paid for ourselves, anyway, the appliances belong to the apartment, and are on their own) and then left for work.  So throughout the morning, I was home with no TV, no DVD, and no WiFi.  Every time I thought it was safe to plug everything back in, I'd hear another rumble.  It was just me and my book, all morning.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I'm just not good enough.

Job 6:11, Romans 5: 1-9, 2 Corinthians 12: 9

Facing setbacks is never fun, and feeling stuck in one area of your life can slowly suck the joy from every other part as well.  We often blame ourselves when circumstances turn against us, out of pride, ego, and convenience.  After all, its your life, who else do you have to blame but yourself?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Old St. Nik, Part 8

Gemma Halliday was bitterly disappointed.  Her eighth birthday had not turned out at all the way she wanted.  After the low budget party (her mother tried to call it 'simply elegant'), where her friends had looked down their noses at everything, she had a terrible row with her parents about Portia's new bag.  It was designer, and cost several hundred pounds.  Portia was extremely fond of it, so much so that she had not stopped bragging about it and showing it off to everyone at Gemma's party.  When she wasn't bragging about the bag, it was her mother's new horse, her father's new car, and her sister's new nose (and other new parts) and the fact that her parents had promised her all this and more when she was older.  Gemma had wanted so much to impress Portia and the others, but her parents' smallish Chelsea townhouse, and modest party for their daughter and the neighborhood girls wasn't enough.