Friday, December 20, 2013

How I Want To Be

I get to work very early in the morning. I am usually the first one in, although there are other early birds who sometimes get there before I do. Yesterday I arrived at work and as the bus pulled up, I got my wallet out. I carry the key to the building in my zippered change compartment on the back of my wallet. I have never lost it. I have never misplaced it. I am very, very, particular about putting it right back where it belongs after I unlock the upstairs doors.

It's a dark, dark, morning. I was picked up by WheelTrans, before six and it's now a little before 7 - the ride was uneventful. I enjoyed looking out the windows and seeing the decorations on many of the houses. Children's hands had created an army of snow men along with a few decidedly busty snow women. It's the kind of scene that makes one long for a hot chocolate and the sound of sleigh bells. We arrived at work and I was getting myself ready.

I pulled out my trusty wallet, the one with the monkey face on it that I love but can't find a replacement for, worn and tattered as it is. Zipping open the change compartment, I am stunned to see that the key isn't there. My apartment key is there. But the key to let me in is gone. The driver is coming around to open the ramp. I can't get out, it's cold, I'll freeze, it's very early, I'll freeze. What do I do?

As the ramp is being unfolded, I say to him, "I'm sorry but I have a real problem." I explain to him about the key. I go into way too much detail, talking really fast and somewhat breathlessly, about how I always put the key back when I use it. I decided he even needed to know that I've been coming here for over seven years and I've never made this mistake. He stood there. patient and listening. He didn't interrupt me or try to deflect the flow of words. He let them trickle to a stop.

"Well, what would you like me to do? Any solutions to this?" His voice was patient.

I started to talk about a Tim's being around the corner, maybe he could let me off there and I could call for help. He nodded, told me it was a good idea, and folded up the ramp. I was on the phone trying to call Joe when I remembered where the key was, I'd put it in the small pocket above the big pocket in my pants. Then, with a shock, I remembered I was wearing the same pants.

When my fingers touched the key, I felt such bliss! I called to the driver, who hadn't cleared the end of the driveway yet, explained to him that I had the key and loved the sensation of the bus backing up. I got in to the building easily and was soon up in my office.

I have to say, the driver's patience, and understanding, and lack of upset, and willingness to find a solution that worked was notable. He was exceptional in his dealings with me. I never felt a bother. I never felt stupid. I never felt that he was, in any way, angry at the disruption to his day and to his schedule.

He's the model for how I want to be when I provide service. Hell, he's the model for how I want to be period.

Support that doesn't diminish - that's my personal goal.


theknapper said...

now that's a great bumper sticker!!!
We all need that sign in our rooms.

Maggie said...

"The driver's patience, and understanding, and lack of upset, and willingness to find a solution" - Priceless.

And the story reminds me that "talking really fast" and "going into too much detail" are my personal symptoms of anxiety. Sometimes it's about 'OMG I lost the key' or whatever, and sometimes (maybe more often, for me) it's about 'I'm such an idiot, I lost the key, this person is going to judge me' - which is to say, I'm really judging myself.

For me, once I've started that anxiety loop there isn't much the other person can do that's useful, except wait for me to take a breath and then ask a solution-focused question. But so few people are able to do it.

I'm applauding this driver for doing that for you.

(And how delightful that, once the anxiety cooled, you were able to recall where the key really was!)

Anonymous said...

Great, great goal! - not just for you but for everybody!

:-) Julia

Shan said...

Oh man I can just feel the anxiety! I've done exactly what you're describing, so many times. Hip Hip Hooray for people who don't pressure!

Princeton Posse said...

I'm with the kanpper, great bumper sticker material! or maybe a t-shirt...

Andrea S. said...

Such a good contrast to that other driver some years ago who had simply abandoned you in the cold!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad it turned out well, I'm sure I'd have lost the key forever (I've had three pairs of glasses just vanish). I hope you remember to give a positive review to his company.