Friday, November 16, 2007

A Babe in the Woods

Once upon a time I was a sweet, naive, trusting young woman, who believed as my grandmother always taught me, "You catch more flies with honey, than you do with vinegar." All of these years later, I still carry those thoughts in my heart and live gently on this earth, caring for strangers, friends and family with kindness, love and respect.

However, in the past few years it seems more and more difficult to deal with the business side of life with any degree of "niceness". We are frustrated at all turns in our modern world. We cannot make a business phone call without encountering long phone menus, and ultimately reaching someone who takes very little interest in our situation. The old adage "the customer is always right" has fallen far by the wayside. Not only is it difficult to resolve problems, but generally we are left with the feeling that any dissatisfaction we feel is of absolutely no concern.

This past week I spent countless hours on the phone with the Albany County Department of Health. We found a rabid bat in our house on Monday, and I wanted to get rabies vaccinations for my husband and I and our two grandchildren, who had spent all day in the living room where we later found the bat hovering under the couch. When they called to tell me the bat was rabid, I assumed we would receive treatment quickly. However, they have instituted a new "criteria" for rabies vaccinations, and somehow we didn't seem to meet that criteria. They assured me that each case was studied carefully, and they knew what they were doing. I was treated with arrogance and antagonism at every turn. It is very stressful to deal with your own fears after rabies exposure, and these people made an already tense situation a nightmare. In my conversations with them, I quickly became angry, demanding and threatening -- traits which do not come naturally to me. However, being nice got me no results, and I was not willing to gamble with my grandchildren's lives.

Thankfully, the children's pediatrician stepped in and this morning we finally had our shots. The staff at the clinic was pleasant, warm and compassionate. They could definitely give lessons to their co-workers whom I dealt with on the phone.

I don't like the person I became when dealing with this situation. I still believe we should be kind and respectful to each other, and it appalls me that in so many situations now I must be assertive to the point of aggression in order to get results. What is wrong in our society?

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