I’m in a bad mood today (Monday, November 22). I’m Irritable. Angry. Part of my problem is that I’m not feeling well (headache, exhausted, stomach cramps, cold symptoms). On a normal day I have trouble practicing patience, but when I’m not feeling well I turn into a bear. On days like this, I’m better off staying away from other people, especially nitwits.
Webster’s Dictionary provides a very simple and clear definition of a nitwit: “a scatterbrained or stupid person.” I’ve had to deal with more than my share of nitwits this month.
Earlier today I tried calling an insurance adjuster on three separate occasions to discuss an injury case I’ve been trying to get settled. I had to leave a voicemail message each time because she didn’t answer any of the calls. She never answers her telephone. She never returns my calls either. I’ve only talked to her once. The only way I was able to get through to her was by convincing the receptionist to connect me with someone who had a desk that was next to her desk. After talking to two additional women (after the receptionist), I was finally able to persuade one of them to put me on hold until she saw the adjuster hang up the telephone, at which point she would personally ask the adjuster to talk to me. She got the job done and I was able to talk to the adjuster.
I have to do this at least once a month – hunt someone down who is not returning my calls. It’s getting harder and harder to get anything of any real value done within a reasonable period of time, especially when you’re dealing with nitwits.
Earlier this month I ordered a desktop printer from a well-known company. When the printer arrived, I opened the box and discovered that the company sent me the wrong printer. A couple days before I ordered the printer, I ordered a refurbished computer from a company I had dealt with before. When the computer arrived and we tried to install the software we needed on the computer, it kept shutting down and restarting. The same week we ordered the printer and the computer, we also ordered some tab inserts (for 3-ring binders) from a well-known office supply company. The company sent us the wrong tabs.
Over a period of five business days, three formerly reliable companies sent wrong or defective products. For each situation, someone from my office had to contact the company that made the mistake, comply with their return policies, and then actually ship the products back so they could be replaced. I’ve been in business for 28 years and I’ve never seen it this bad. You would think that in a recession economy companies would strive to provide superior service so customers would have an incentive to come back to buy more products or services, rather than seek out new vendors. I will never order anything from those companies again. I hate taking time out of my busy schedule (or paying an employee) to correct someone else’s mistakes.
What’s going on anyway? Why can’t things get done right the first time? What is it that has caused people’s brains to turn into mush? One big problem I see is that having grown up with the internet, social media, and all of the modern technological gadgets that are readily available, younger workers have simply lost the ability to concentrate and focus on anything for any reasonable length of time. They are constantly being interrupted by their gadgets and have been conditioned to jump around from one task to another, just like flees bouncing around on a dog.
Last week while I was waiting at the counter of a local fast food restaurant to order a sandwich, the young lady behind the counter was too busy texting someone on her iPhone to notice that I was standing there waiting to give her money that would help to pay part of her wages. I wanted to grab the phone out of her hand, slap her upside the head with it, and then tell her that her employer was not paying her to stand around and send text messages.
(I just read through what I’ve written so far and I’ve decided I’m going to follow the advice of Francis de Sales, a saint who wrote about struggling to overcome one’s own anger. St. Francis de Sales advised that we should “control our tongues when our hearts are disturbed.” I’m not sure it’s my heart that’s disturbed, but I should probably stop writing before I say something I might later regret. I’ll come back another time and finish what I started – after I’ve calmed down a little bit.)
I’m back and I’m in a better mood today (Wednesday, November 24). I’m also feeling better. For the past two days, I’ve alternated between Advil and Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Formula. I’ve also taken megadoses of Cold Ease, Zicam, and Vitamin C. I’m not back to full strength, but I’m feeling a lot better.
After noon Mass today at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria, Matt Jennett handed me an article he thought I would appreciate. The article was written by Rev. Joseph M. Esper, and was published by Liguorian magazine in November of 2005. The title of the article was: How to Deal With Difficult People – Lessons From the Saints. (I see Matt almost every day at noon Mass. He is a member of the adoration program at Holy Family [3 separate holy hours each week] and does volunteer work at Family Resources Center, which is located on Main Street in downtown Peoria.)
Was it a coincidence that a guy I see at Church every day just happened to give me an article on how to deal with difficult people, two days after I wrote and complained about my experiences in dealing with difficult people? (Since I didn’t tell anyone about what I had written, Matt had no way of knowing what was going on in my mind.)
Anyway, I read the article that Matt gave me and three quotes jumped out at me. The first quote was from St. Thérèse of Lisieux (the Little Flower): “How fortunate to find this spot where such treasures were being given away.” The treasures St. Thérèse was referring to were the annoying people who give each of us an opportunity to grow in grace and do penance for our sins.
The second quote was from St. John of the Cross: “Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent.” (Hmmm, let’s see. I consider myself a devout Catholic, but for some reason I didn’t think about Christ crucified while I was: (1) trying to get the adjuster on the telephone; (2) dealing with the mistakes of the companies that shipped defective and wrong products to me; and (3) thinking about slapping the lady upside the head with her cell phone.)
The last quote was from St. Teresa of Avila. In writing about difficult people, St. Teresa talked about how the saints were thankful and “rejoiced at injuries and persecutions, because in forgiving [others] they had something to present to God when they prayed to Him.”
When I started writing this article on Monday I had no intention of thanking God and rejoicing over all of the nitwits I’ve had to deal with lately. Thanks to Matt, my focus shifted from myself to the “lessons from the saints.” (I hate to admit it, but because of my own pride I do, at times, receive great satisfaction from being angry at nitwits. Among other things, it allows me to feel superior to them, which is one of many compelling reasons for me to pray for humility every day.)
Are you willing to join me in adopting the advice of the saints? By doing so you will be able to view the nitwits in your life as treasures who will help you to remember Christ crucified while you remain silent and rejoice in your injuries and persecutions. This will give you multiple opportunities to grow in grace and do penance for your own sins – a double reward for behaving like a real Christian.