When I moved to a new bank last month, I knew there would be some problem. Sure enough, one of the automatic withdrawals got tangled up, and I was momentarily without health insurance.
The same company who knows more about me than I do, who has all three of my phone numbers, decided to send me a snail mail letter informing me that they were dropping my health insurance.
Finding good clients, in health care terms, is “capitation.” To the best of my knowledge, I had been decapitated.
I got on the phone and was told that I was wrong. Sure, I said, but let’s work toward fixing it. I was passed on to someone else, who explained that I was wrong. Again. I agreed, and expressed a desire to fix the problem. I was passed on again.
As I crawled, penitent, up the ladder of service representative, who added fines and fees to the wait, I became impatient, frustrated and finally, cranky. Each person told me they knew the story, only to demonstrate they did not know enough of the story. Nor was anyone wiling to listen.I was reprimanded over and over for bouncing a check. While this isn’t exactly what happened, there was no one who could get over it enough to help establish a new account at the new bank.
I began to feel like a Russian woman in a breadline in the 1950s– endless wait in the snow, only to get to the front of the line to be told there is no bread.
By the time I reach the person who can actually help me, I am apoplectic in my anger. It took 2 hours and more than 15 switches to get to someone who could establish a new withdrawal plan.
And the closer I got to the person who could help me, who had the answer, the angrier I got. I was nicest to the person who was no help at all, and was furious by the time I reached the one person who could help me.
It was like a bucket of ice water over the head. I made myself behave, be grateful, and act gracious. But then, with deep breathing and reminding myself that I was the only one responsible for my behavior, I reached control and equilibrium. Sort of. I still felt angry, but I was behaving well. At least I was trying.
It’s odd how that works. The angrier we get, the meaner we are, the more hopeless it seems, the closer we are to an answer. How many answers have I missed because I was too busy being angry?
Ideally, we would start out angry, then calm down, then proceed. Well, of course, ideally we would never allow ourselves to reach a point where anger caves in our resolve and we act impatiently. I still have a long road to travel.
–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach and artist. See her work at QuinnCreative.com