Thursday, April 9, 2009

Where is the Manager?

One of the vivid childhood memories that I have, is fun weekends with my family. As a military officer, Dad had a lot of provincial assignments then, so whenever he’s in town with Mom (yes, she went with him all the time), he made sure that we spend our weekends with fun activities.

The usual routine was to go shopping first, and then eat in our favorite Chinese restaurant, The Bamboo House (in Cubao) where I usually end up unzipping my jeans due to a bulging tummy full of sumptuous Chinese dishes. After a hefty lunch, we head to the movie house and watch a Superman, James Bond, Jet Lee or Jackie Chan movie. The last stop is at the carnival for some games and rides.

It’s easy to remember the fun part of those memories, but along with it came the lessons that I didn’t know I had taken by heart.

“Where is the manager?” I heard this question too many times in my lifetime, and it always comes from Dad.

He’s never the loud and fussy type, but whenever there’s a need to call somebody’s attention whether it’s due to a major complaint such as poor service or a minor inconvenience encountered in an establishment, he asks straight for the big guy always. And every time, I noticed that his concerns were always easily addressed when he talks directly to the manager.

My sister and I learned through his example.

My Turn

I don’t always ask for the manager. I’m typically the patient and persevering customer; generally forgiving of slight slips and inefficiencies. So the moment I open my mouth or start writing what I’d rather not verbally express, that’s when you’ll know that I’ve been pushed to the limit.

Some situations do not merit verbal confrontation, even if the concerned individual/group displays the most unprofessional behavior. It’s too tempting to indulge in one; but is it really worth it? Sure, it would feel good to spew words dipped in venom, or tell somebody to crawl in a hole and get a life or something, if only to release an emotional rage. But as a civilized individual, one has to rise above that and stick to the fundamentals of being objective.

The wise thinks before he acts. It takes breeding, composure and a lot of deliberation to muster the self control needed to avoid stooping down to somebody's level. This actually makes me remember a scene in The Parent Trap, where the well-bred Lindsay Lohan twin delivered in British accent: “I, have class, and you don’t.” True enough, those who have class, won’t.

I would normally compose a two-page complaint letter that narrates the situation in detail, how the inefficient act was committed, suggestions on how to prevent its future occurrence, and the mandatory recommendation for the concerned staff/group to undergo a refresher course in customer service.

So far, I received immediate responses from biggies like French Baker and Jollibee who I believe value the importance of delivering customer satisfaction.

When to call the "Big Boss"

It’s easy to manage these day-to-day inconveniences. But life is not like a business establishment where you can call the manager to fix a situation when things don’t live up to your standards. In a broader aspect, when it’s hard for humans to render sound judgment to life-changing issues, when it’s easy to be emotionally beaten, misjudged and persecuted, when all else fails and there is no one to turn to, it’s comforting to know that we can always call on the "Big Boss" to serve perfect justice.

This Holy Week, we are again given the chance to set aside a few days from work, not to go on a fancy vacation, but to ponder on how we’re leading our lives according to the higher plan. We must ask ourselves: Have we done our own share of misdeeds to others worth complaining to the Big Boss? Are we the victims of those who rejoice in the misery of their neighbors? Are we ultimately living the life our Creator wants us to lead?

You know who you are. You know what you’ve done. You know what you’ve failed to do. You know what you must do.

Have a meaningful Holy Week. :)

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