Go home and collect your thoughts

philbirchbw-e1297112991794 I selected this particular journal entry because I am certain that it is a situation that we all, at some time, have had to deal with. It may not have been your own friendly bank manager; it could be the shop assistant, the call centre agent, the cold-caller or the window cleaner. In fact, anyone and everyone. The point is, the someone that you are obliged to deal with who displays less than a satisfactory, to you anyway, level of empathy, understanding, initiative and effort.

The essence of the lesson, I think, is that whatever and whoever we encounter, they are NOT us. They do not have our own standards, values and motivations. They have their own, whatever they are, and we have to assimilate and manage our expectations based upon our pre-conceived conditions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

It does not have to be a world changing event but it matters enough to us to potentially affect our world. The world we live in every second of every day – the world inside our heads.

Day 196 Go home and collect your thoughts
I went to the bank today. Usual stuff, ‘can you help please and stop charging me a small nation state’s annual income in bank charges please as it really does not help.’ It was one of the main High St charlatan money-none-lending, self promoting, incompetent, faceless institutions that you see a thousand times a day in glossy TV adverts. My particular flavour is the one that is supposed to help me with my journey. Utter bollocks as we all know. Who do they really think they are advertising savings accounts to? They caused the bloody recession! Or are we supposed to have forgotten that?

I met a middle-aged bloke in a blue suit. Or was it a middle-aged blue suit with a bloke in it? A moot point. This in itself was a little surprising. At least, I thought, it’s not a shiny post grad with his girlfriend’s funny birthday gift tie on. After unnecessary introductory conversations about how he used to be in business and can understand my issues it was clear I was wasting my life, time and breath. I may have well been talking to the smiley woman on the counter that tries to make small talk with me. What really boiled my bile, however, was that after his rendition of his work life and CV, he then began to tell me how he could not help. It was not his fault, you understand, it’s just that banks work like this these days.
‘I used to be able to press a couple of buttons and sort things out. I can’t now. It’s all done centrally.’

Not only had he attracted me down to his grubby little office under false pretences like some blue-suited witch in a fairy tale but now had the temerity and bare-faced gall to be looking for sympathy from me!!! I should feel sorry for him because he isn’t allowed to do a proper job. What a tw*t. Those few people who know me in ‘real life’ will probably be able to predict my reaction to this pointless use of space. But, guess what, I did not react – well not until he suggested that I return home, collect my thoughts and call the support team!!!!
Boom! That was the trigger. ‘Collect my f**king thoughts!’
I will spare you the details but suffice to say I did not shake his hand on exit. His throat, yes, but not his clammy little under-manager’s hand.

So where does this fit with my musings on responsibility? Well, on two fronts. Firstly on the ever-increasing lack of actual responsibility in all of our larger institutions – banks, utilities companies, anyone with a call centre – where they employ shiny-voiced women or bored students or dissidents or refugees or passing homeless tramps to field the complaints with scripted response sheets and intolerable background music. The people making the decisions hiding behind less paid, less qualified employees and excel spreadsheets calculating how many satisfied customers they need to meet their quota. The rest of us dissatisfied ones are surplus to requirements! Where has responsibility gone? What happened to accountability in business? Up some faceless executives arse I think.

Secondly, my own personal responsibility. How I react, how I behave, how I let it make me feel. Well, not perfectly but better than in the past. I was annoyed (you may have guessed), frustrated and quite pissed off but by the time I arrived back home I had tempered my emotions and taken responsibility for my feelings. I did not let it spoil my day. I did not let it cloud my judgment. I decided to be responsible and it felt empowering.

OK, I have had a little rant but I don’t see that as all bad because hopefully I have been responsible for bringing a little smile into your day either because you are glad to know that you are not alone, that another soul suffers with you, or because you are just a little vindictive. No matter.
Until soon. I am just off to collect my thoughts.

I hope that this memory triggers an event that you can yourself relate to. I would like to think that I am better at NOT letting these incidents to affect my life.

How do you manage life’s little challenges? I would be genuinely interested to hear.

More excerpts next month in the3rdimagazine.
The book will be available for kindle shortly.
Contact Phil directly via phil@the3rdi.co.uk to reserve your copy

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