Tuesday, June 07, 2005

stupid is as stupid does

If you are easily offended, stop reading now. I'm not trying to offend, I'm just trying to make a point. Since I've received hate calls in the past, I want to say up front if you can't read and get the point (ie, that I'm not really poking at individuals but the ideas or lack thereof that individuals represent), then go to some nice little blog where you won't be tempted to be offended. I hold that if words offend then you need to look at the why, not point at the messenger! If you are okay with all this, read on.

It's not hard to believe that humanity is inherently evil, I can understand the reasons for that. But why humanity insists on being inherently stupid, that I have trouble understanding.

I see it daily. When I was on the phones at work full time, I talked to stupid people on every other call or so. I had a lady once tell me we had been charging her credit card for the last six months when her card had expired seven months prior. She didn't believe me when I told her we are unable to pull from an expired card. She called me a liar. I told her, as nicely as possible (since you can't yet reach through a phone cord and smack someone) that if she wanted to mail me copies of her credit card statements with our charges highlighted I'd be glad to give her credit for it. She hung up and we never heard from her again.

I had another man tell me that everyone at work must be stupid because they thought a rosary was a necklace. He didn't care that we aren't Catholic and most Christians have never seen (nor do we have much use for) a rosary. They look like bracelets or necklaces and we use a generic letter to let people know gifts under $10 were given to local charities. He insisted that we were dumb to have given away something so priceless. He of course wouldn't take any responsibility for sending the item after we told him it couldn't be given to the child, no, it was all our fault.

We receive mail everyday with the most absurd sediments. Yesterday, we got a piece returned (it was a receipt, necessary by law to send) saying if we didn't take them off our list they would alert the Attorney General of El Paso, Texas to our flagrant disobedience of something or other. Let me get this straight. You gave us a donation, of your own free will, and we provide you with a receipt so the government doesn't wonder how you got that high cushion of charitable giving. You in turn send it back with a threat? I'm shaking that the Attorney General of El Paso Texas is going to send a Texas Ranger up to Colorado Springs to take all 500 of us back to Texas.

I am amazed daily that such people actually seem to function in the world. We've all seen them, they are the drivers that go five miles under the speed limit no matter what, they are the ones who stand in the middle of an isle in the store blocking everyone else, they are the ones who make the lives of everyone else on the planet stressful. I wonder if they know just how stupid they make themselves appear when they do such things. Do the people who write threats on receipts know they sound ignorant? Do people who cry foul because they failed to read their mail (three times!) that we were making a change and then made it know they appear to be incompetent? Do they have any clue that there are people who read their mail and just about fall out of their chairs laughing at the complete absurdity of it and then toss it in the trash (only after conferring with a supervisor that no, we really don't need to give that one the courtesy of a response!)

I write this mostly because I need to get it out or I won't be able to handle the stupidity that I encounter daily. I need to be able to laugh at it and know that I'm not the only person that is baffled by it. I also write it to warn you, dear readers, away from such activities. I don't want you to look stupid. Here's a few tips, mostly on how to deal with organizations, especially ones that you are partnering with (ie, not the phone company, but use common sense with them as well!).

1. Before you send anything, or for that matter, say anything, have your facts straight. If this means having letters, communications, bills, statements in front of you, get them. It's much safer and you will come off as much smarter if you avoid using extremes like never, always, etc. Be prepared, knowledge is more than half the battle.

2. Be kind. Instead of sending a threat, make a request. Say as nicely as possible, thank you, however... this will get you much farther with the people you are dealing with. Don't demand, just ask. If they treat you like crap, work up the ladder, but be nice. Be able to hang up with the knowledge that you took the high road at all possible times.

3. Owe up to your mistakes, or possible mistakes. How many times I've seen people say "you all screwed up" when in actuality, it was their error. Before making a charge, check the facts. If you did drop the ball, say, "opps, I'm sorry, it appears I'm wrong. I'll make it right, thank you."

4. If you are communicating in writing, write your message on a separate piece of paper, hide it for 48 hours and then re-read it. You'll be amazed at what you wrote in a moment of anger, confusion or mental abstraction. By putting it away for a day or two, clarity has a chance to reign and you'll be spared looking the fool.

Okay, that's about it. If you made it this far, cheers to you. I admire you. Now, back to our normal cheery program.

1 comment:

Vocal Violinist said...

Ok, I'm dying here, that was pretty funny. I was thinking about the questions you asked. Especially the part about whether or not, stupid people realize how dumb and ignorant they appear. I truly believe the answer is no in most cases. We have gotten pretty bad about stupid Americans since we have been over here 2 years. Most Americans (and yes I am also an American) are so out of touch with the rest of the world! We have a lot of fun jokes we tell. Our favorite is about a guy who came over with his wife a year ago. He's from Missouri. In one comment, he let us know just how dumb and ignorant he was. We asked him how his first day of work was (he works with mostly europeans as we all do) and he said "It's weird, cause their all foreigners!" Can you believe that? Buddy get with the program, your the foreigner! We have affectionatly nick named him "Bubba".