Patience & Getting Older by Sharon O’Donnell
I’ve waited for a lot of repairmen in my life (I would be politically correct and say repair people but all of these people have indeed been men). Overall, they’ve been pretty good — usually the wait time is not that bad and the appliance or service is repaired. I appreciate this and the skills that people have to do this work because I certainly don’t. Washing machines, dryers, TV’s, and even cable service have all been repaired pretty well in the past. And if the repairman was running a little late — no problem — I can understand how things happen and a person can be behind an hour or so.
But dealing with appliance repair guys and other service situations has gotten to me lately. And it can’t be just that I’ve gotten older — can it? I know as people get more tired of constant excuses and having to wait year after year, it can maybe add up. Yet, I think – or hope anyway — that the recent situations that have tested my patience are due to the situations themselves, not my growing lack of patience as I age.
There was the time this summer when our GE refrigerator needed to be repaired, and after two failed attempts to repair the problem by my local appliance guy, I found out on-line on a message board that the problem my refrigerator had was a well-known one with that model, GE knew about it, and there was even a small part you could order to fix the problem. However, I’d described the problem to GE, had looked at the Questions & Answers on GE’s website, and nobody had mentioned to me that there was a quick repair. Evidently, GE doesn’t make this knowledge available to GE-unaffiliated repairmen, so I spent a couple of hundred dollars for trial and error fixes only to find out it there was a simple solution. I told GE that they should post this info on its website, but of course, I’m sure the part-time phone person didn’t care about my suggestions. I’d put lots of time and emails, and money, into getting my fridge repaired, though.
A few months ago, I ordered on-line a Sears gift card for my Dad’s birthday, and it was to be mailed directly to him. My dad didn’t notice that the card that he was supposed to receive in the mail didn’t arrive when it was supposed to; I’d assumed it had. Several weeks went by and I asked my mother if he had received the card, and they said he hadn’t. I called Sears and they said the gift card had been returned to them even though it was correctly addressed but nobody had notified me of this. Why not?
I firmly but politely told the sales rep on the phone that I should have been notified that my gift had never arrived.
Then this past week, I spent all day Thursday waiting for the cable guy to come and restore my Internet and email service that had been down for two days. I had a writing deadline, and my middle son was in the midst of doing on-line college applications so we needed our service back up soon. I’d made an appt. for between 12 and 2. I had some important errands I had to do later that day that could not be done that morning, so I was hoping he would be here as close to 12 as possible. That didn’t happen. At 1:30 he called to say there was one person in front of me, that he’d be over soon. That was fine, I said thanks, see him then. An hour and a half passed, and I hadn’t heard back from him. So I called him and he said he had run into problems at that house, that he didn’t know when he would be by my place.
My errands went undone, and I was very frustrated. Still, I thought he’d be at my house within a couple of hours. At 5:00, I called the main number of the cable company to ask if anyone else could come out. The answer was no, that all the other technicians were helping “other customers” — I told them how ridiculous it was that I had NO IDEA when my repairman would be here, even though I’d had a 12-2 appointment. They didn’t seem to be concerned and kept saying that sometimes appointments ran long. I would have said forget about his coming by that night, but I needed the service repaired. 3 more hours went by.
At 8:00 I called the repair guy, and he said he was STILL at that same house struggling with phone cords and he could “try” to get by tonight if I wanted him to. Couldn’t believe it. I said yes to still come by, but I called the main number back and vented again that there was no back-up policy for something like this when one customer takes way too long, leaving another customer abandoned. The sales rep still said there were no other technicians in the area, but she could give me a $20 credit. Within minutes of hanging up, the cable company called back and said they had another technician in the area and he would be right over. I waited about 10 minutes and decided to leave and let my husband deal with the cable guy because I knew I’d be too irritated with him. I took my youngest out for a late bite to eat because I had to get out of the house after waiting all day, anticipating the guy would be there any minute. My husband said the guy was in and out in 10 minutes. A simple repair of a shortage. And the other guy was – I guess – still at the other customer’s house — since 1:30 that afternoon. Who would even WANT a repairman at their house that long??
So is it just me getting older and my patience wearing thin more quickly or are incidents like these becoming more common? I’ve always been a pretty calm, laid-back person – almost to the point of letting people walk over me — but I think I’ve finally decided that’s not going to happen anymore. At least not without my venting about it. And I guess we should do that — firmly but politely — at any age.