Monday, July 18, 2016

At My Convenience

At my earliest convenience.

I hate it when I hear that on someone's answering machine. "I will call you back at my earliest convenience."

That means, "I will call you back when I am not doing anything else that I consider more important than you. Like playing Candy Crush or something."

"As soon as possible" is better, because while that basically means the same thing, it is easier to interpret that as saying "as soon as I've returned home, to my office, or whatever." As opposed to the above, wherein you're the least important thing on the list.

But really, why not just, "I will call you back."

That's your intent, right? To call back? So why does it need any modifiers? Just say, "Leave your name and number and I will call you back."

That's all that needs to be said. And these days, we all know to leave our name and number, and we assume that the person called will call back. If they don't, we call back, if it's urgent.

Of course, I'm talking old school here. Texting? I don't know what happens when you send someone a text and they don't respond. Do you get some kind of bounce-back, like with email, that says so-and-so is not available because they're on vacation?

Maybe someone can fill me in on that.

I have a flip phone, so I don't text. I know the emails I send to cellphones as texts aren't always answered, or answered promptly. So maybe texts just sit there, like Humpty Dumpty on a wall, hoping no one hits the delete button so the message disappears (or pushes you over the edge).

Courtesy has become such an obscurity I suppose I should not complain about "my earliest convenience." I suspect people who leave that sort of message thinks they are being polite, though the message is all about them. But we live in a society where everything is about me, and nothing about you, so I expect nothing less.

Sometimes when I am dealing with people on the phone, and I say, "Yes ma'am," the woman will stop. "You must be from the South," she will say. Or she may suggest I am old and antiquated, without trying to be insulting.

I can only imagine the lack of courtesy these folks deal with every day. A "Yes ma'am" must be quite a change of pace for it to be commented upon. And isn't that a shame?

Sometimes when I am dealing with folks and I say please, thank you, or I appreciate that, or thank you for your time, or whatever, the person on the other end seems rendered speechless by politeness. But there is no point in not being polite. Generally the salesperson is not responsible for what the company does. That man or woman did not build the product that is broken, or whatever the case may be.

My Monday wish is for more courtesy and politeness. Polite people don't, as a rule, do bad things. They don't yell or diminish people, they don't try to "put one over on you" and they don't make unfounded accusations. That's not to say that polite people sometimes aren't pushed to the edge and suddenly they are ranting, raving, and yelling, but on the whole, I think the world could use a bit more politeness.

In fact, a Roanoke café recently had it's street sign go viral because of what it said.

The sign reads:
“Small coffee”
“Small coffee, please”
“Hello, one small coffee please.”
According to reports, no one has actually been charged $5, but people are being nicer when they come in. Money talks, after all, and there's a big difference between $5 and $1.75.

Like everything in a capitalistic economy, even courtesy has its price.

And I hope the waitresses bring the patrons their coffee as soon as possible, and not at their earliest convenience.


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