Once upon a time, I was an airline reservations agent. I worked in a cubicle surrounded by dozens of other reservations agents and for eight hours a day, I tried (and occasionally succeeded) in helping people get to where they wanted to go with our airline. Most definitely not rocket science. I did that for a couple of years and I learned a number of things. Some of them useful, some of them not. However, one lesson that stuck out to me was a lesson in human nature.
We like to blame people.
One situation sticks out vividly. It is winter. I am settled in GA but dealing with people traveling all over the country. A mother calls in from Denver, CO. A word about winter in Denver, if you didn’t know, it snows a lot. It is not unusual for the airport in Denver to be closed due to snow and that was what happened. This mother, with her children, was trapped in the Denver airport because of the snow and she called reservations to see what we could do about that. Do you see where this goes wrong, I’m sure you do. After a few minutes of verification, customer service thrives on verification, we get down to the meat of her problem: She is snowed in.
Just to refresh. I am in Georgia. I am not Storm from the X-men. I am not an agent of TSA or FAA. While I am sympathetic, as you can imagine, she is not the only person I’ve talked to who is stuck somewhere because of inclement weather. In short, there is absolutely nothing I can do for her.
After explaining this as politely as I can, she becomes rather upset. I listen to her as she unleashes her unhappiness over the phone. There is still nothing I can do, but I can at least listen. Then she hit me with:
You are ruining my children’s Disney vacation.
I’m not too stunned to speak, but as my mouth is forming words, my brain is rapidly (and repeatedly) hammering on the ‘SHUT UP’ button. Nothing I would have said in response would have made it better. I know this now. I actually knew it then, but I hadn’t yet learned completely the lesson I needed to get out of customer service. The lesson: Just because you blame someone doesn’t make it any less your problem.
In that instance, she blamed me for being snowed in. However, blaming me did not shift the reality of the situation at all. She was still snowed in.
But what’s the point of this discussion? Well, recently, I have been displeased with portions of my life. Some of it comes from my interactions with others, some not. However, the reality of the situation is: Even if I blame them, it is still MY PROBLEM. In the end, I have to do something about it whether it is truly their fault or not. Reality bends to action not will. I do not discount the power of positive thinking, but I have yet to see something appear out of thin air in response to someone’s thought process. Therefore, I choose to assume one needs to get off their butt and work for it to make it happen.
So I ask: Have you been so busy blaming that you haven’t worked on something that’s genuinely your problem? I’d love to hear from you.