Monday, July 27, 2009

How Not To Do Your Job

This morning I had to make a telephone call about a bureaucratic matter relating to our son's death. There was no mystery about who I was or why I was calling: I am the mother and estate administrator of a son who is dead, and this matter needs to be addressed on his behalf.

The young lady on the other end said she had the matter in her tickler file for follow-up at the end of the week.

I asked whether she might follow up today, the end of the week being five days away and meaning, no doubt, at least another week's delay.

She repeated that her follow-up is scheduled for the the of the week.

I suggested rather more strongly that a two-sentence email this morning would be in order.

"I have other things to do," she said.


I couldn't count how many times in the past year I have thought that we should perhaps engage in every business encounter as if it were a pastoral matter. I have been the beneficiary of a ridiculous number of mishandled, carelessly handled, or not handled matters. And of course, unlike this morning's exchange, the person who has made the mistake or created the delay or forgotten the task altogether seldom knows that he or she is working with someone trying to accomplish something under the most stressful and painful circumstances possible. But maybe we should always assume that the person we are attempting to serve is, in fact, in some distress, and that anything we could do to help might, completely unbeknownst to us, ease a difficult situation.


And , oh yeah, I left a message with the young lady's supervisor. I did not swear and I did not raise my voice, and she did not return the call.

Needless to say, I have not been studying for my Hebrew final.


karengberger said...


Karen and Joe said...

Let me just add my own "grrrrr". It makes me mad. Really mad. What happened to consideration, kindness and compassion? What are we not teaching our children?

I am so sorry GG.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I will NEVER understand why someone would rather spend 10 minutes telling you why they cannot perform a 2 minute task.


You're a nicer person than I. If not swearing, I would have used 5 syllable words that rhyme with "kneecap".

Magdalene6127 said...

No excuse for such carelessness.

I'm sorry for your having to endure such things.

Kathryn J said...

One of my favorite sayings has something to do with being kinder than you think necessary because you never know another's burdens. This young woman knew something of your burdens and still chose to be unkind.

You handled it remarkably well.