Things people say matter.
Yesterday, I was on the phone with the company that holds my mortgage to sort out a snafu that had to do with a payment they lost that I made to the company after it was bought out by one of the bailout banks. Technically the company didn’t exist anymore and I should have made the payment to the other bank, but I hadn’t been aware of the switch. They had no trouble deducting the funds from my bank account but they never credited my loan account for the payment. This was the fourth time I had to get them on the phone to deal with this. Not counting the times I got cut off mid “hold.” Not counting the times I recounted the story to one person only to be transferred to a different department, breathless and agitated.
As I recounted the tale to yet another customer service representative, she gave me the typical, “it will take 60 days to rectify that…” blah, blah, blah. I finally told her that I was told one thing, and it just didn’t seem like that was what had happened. She said, “I hear you.” I couldn’t have predicted how much that one sentence would assuage my anger. Sometimes all you need is to know you’ve made your point. And that yes, you are a person, yes, you are speaking into the phone, and yes, someone on the other end is doing something other than reading off a script or playing FreeCell.
Then this morning: I overslept for the first time since I started waking up at 5:30 to get to the gym. It was only a five minute loss but at that hour of the morning every minute counts when you’re trying to haul yourself into coherence. It was all fine and I was early to class but I felt a little sluggish. I kept thinking about how my chest muscles sort of ached a little the night before, as I sat hunched over my computer compiling a spreadsheet of expenses for my tax preparer. I had done some weight lifting targeting my pecs earlier in the day. But it couldn’t be that. I had heard a story on NPR about a young woman who died suddenly on her treadmill from a very rare heart defect. It must be that. So, I was in class and I was fighting for it. It was harder than it had been on Wednesday, but I did my best. The class makes me smile and it lifts me up, so there’s always that. There was a guy standing in the back. Toward the end of class he moved up and was standing behind me. At the end, after we complete the series/routine for the last time the teacher encourages everyone to give each other high fives. After that, and after the short cool-down stretch, as everyone was milling about gathering towels and water bottles, the guy passed by me. “Tell me your name again?” he asks. I had never told him my name before. “Amanda,” I shook his hand. “K., he says, “you were…fierce!” He wags his finger at me. I laugh. So were you!
I smile even now writing about this. My new friend K. brightened my day, a day that would have been bright anyway from a wonderful class through which I really worked hard. But it was a different kind of bright now. I had been recognized. And I think that’s what both these circumstances were about. Acknowledgement.
One of my personal commandments is to “Be kind.” Maybe acknowledgement can help me to that end.