“The computer did it. It’s not my fault.”


“The computer did it, not me. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Silence, for just a moment before a voice, deep, low, asked a muffled question.

“Hey, I have nothing to do with it. It’s not my fault.” Louder than the other voice; clipped, staccato, indignant.

Over the cubicle wall, the exchange, half heard, reached my ears. I held my breath as I listened to the rise of vocal tones that dragged my tension level up with them. A few more muffled back-and-forths and the person stomped away. I didn’t let my breath out until I was sure that man had left the building.

I’m accused of being a softy, a bleeding heart, falling for every sob story that comes my way. Am I? I listen attentively, I meet eyes, I do what I can with the goal of leaving no stone unturned, and know just as well as the next person when I’m given a bunch of bull. It doesn’t matter if the person is being honest with me or not, I explain the program and outline the options, along with the consequences of those choices. It takes a few seconds more to explain than it does to not explain, but the lack of negative responses in return is more than worth it. It’s just basic respect that everyone is due. So am I a softy?

A few days before, an authoritarian voice barked out orders into the phone, insisting that this and that had to be done only one way. I don’t remember what it was about, didn’t hear enough and wished I didn’t hear as much as I did. It was ugly, rude, condescending, the side of the phone conversation that I heard, and I said out loud, loudly, “Oh my!” But not before I heard a few others sharply draw in their breath, audibly groan and say, “Oh, shit.”

Yesterday, an email came from the home office. “…We must realize our customers are the reason we are employed. They are the [people] whom we serve. Without the [people], we would not have a job. It is our job to provide them with the services we are hired to perform…”

What is that saying, “they have eyes but see not; they have ears but hear not?” In one ear and out the other. Except, in this case, the consequences just might be someone coming in with a loaded weapon.

It’s not rocket science. Treated poorly, people react poorly.
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