Last month, was the 38th anniversary of when I opened my law office. After 38 years, I still get frustrated with running my own business. I’m going to share something that happened to me last month that caused me to become extremely frustrated and angry. After I share my experience with you, I’m going to give you one of the keys to happiness — a key that allows you to still find happiness in a world that is fraught with frustration and anger.
When I began practicing law on January 21, 1983, one of the first things I did was to set up a business telephone line and account with AT&T. I have the same telephone number today that I started with 38 years ago.
A couple of weeks ago, I received a delinquency notice from AT&T, which stated that I had not paid my December 2020 bill. I pay AT&T more than $650 every month for several phone lines and their high-speed internet service. When I received the notice, the name of another business was listed at the top of the notice, along with my office address. I was not familiar with the business and I had never seen it listed on anything that I received from AT&T. Two inches below the name of the business was my name and office address.
My first concern was that my account was past due, so I checked with my bank to see if the check that I had sent in December had cleared my account. When the bank confirmed that the check had not been returned for payment, I had one of my employees contact AT&T to see if they had received the check. The answer from AT&T was that they had not received the check.
When I found out that AT&T had not received my December check, I called the customer service phone number and paid the bill with a credit card. After I paid the bill, I asked about the name of the business that was listed at the top of the delinquency notice. The woman I talked to told me that the business that was listed was probably the primary name that was used when the account was set up and that my name was added as a sub-account.
I informed the woman that I had set up the account in my name more than 35 years ago and that I had never seen the name of a business on any bill, notice, or correspondence that I received from AT&T. I asked her to remove the business from my account. She looked up my account and could not find the name of the business. She then told me, “The notice must have been printed by mistake and you should just ignore it.”
For the past several years, I’ve noticed a trend that there are more and more people I deal with who respond to my legitimate inquiries and concerns by making things up. I believe they do this because they want to get me off the phone, so they don’t have to deal with difficult situations. This doesn’t only happen with entry-level people; it also happens with people who are in supervisory positions. These people have no concern for their customers or the companies or institutions they work for. They are lazy and dishonest. I’ll have more to say about this trend when I finish telling you about my experience with AT&T.
After I explained to the woman that the name of an unknown company doesn’t just appear on a printed notice for no reason, I told her that the name of the company had to come from information that was stored in my account on their computer network. She ignored what I said and claimed that there was no one else in her department who could help me. She then forwarded me to a recording that gave me nine options to choose from, none of which had anything to do with my situation.
I hung up the phone and called the telephone number that was on the delinquency notice, which was a different number than the customer service number. To make a long story short. I talked to at least eight different people over the next six days and spent more than four hours of my time trying to get the problem resolved. I was finally able to talk to a woman who found the business name listed with my account information. She placed me on hold for more than 20 minutes so she could talk to some other people in her department.
When she came back on the phone, she told me that when I set up the account, AT&T did a credit check on my name with Dun & Bradstreet (a global corporation that provides information on businesses and commercial credit). She said that AT&T received the information that the business was associated with my name from Dun & Bradstreet. She then told me she could not remove the name of the business from my account and that I had to contact Dun & Bradstreet and ask them to remove the business from my account. She said that after that was done, the business would be removed from my AT&T account.
Despite my attempts to convince her that she was wrong and that it wouldn’t do any good for me to contact Dun & Bradstreet, she insisted that what she had told me was the only way to remedy the problem. After going back and forth with her for 10 minutes, I contacted Dun & Bradstreet. After spending more than 45 minutes with one of their representatives, he confirmed that there was not any reference to any other business in my Dun & Bradstreet account. He told me that I needed to deal directly with AT&T to get the matter resolved.
When I hung up the phone, I had to talk myself out of wasting any more time with AT&T. I concluded that I had not been harmed by the business being listed on my account and that I would probably have to spend the next several weeks trying to track someone down — a needle in the haystack that is known as AT&T — who would be able to help me. I reluctantly decided to go against my nature and to do my best to forget about the problem. I decided that if I have a problem in the future with the business being associated with my account, I’ll deal with it at that time.
I could write every week about a new frustration caused by the incompetence of people and the companies and institutions they work for. I’m not kidding. Over the past year, the problem has gotten progressively worse because there is a new bogeyman that has caused many of the people that I (and my employees) have to deal with to become even lazier and more dishonest. That bogeyman is… COVID-19. How long can they continue to use that as an excuse for their mistakes and their failure to do what they’re supposed to be doing?
While we live in a country of vast resources, I am frequently frustrated by the complete lack of resourcefulness that exists among many of the people I interact with. I admit that my expectations of how other people should behave is probably too high. One reason for my high expectations is because I was blessed to grow up around very resourceful people — parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles — who seemed to always be able to use the limited resources that were available to them to figure how to fix almost anything that was broken. They also had the ability to use whatever resources were available — including other people — to come up with workable solutions to most of their problems and difficulties. Unfortunately, a lot of the people I have to deal with did not learn the ability to be resourceful from the people who had influence over them. I was reminded of this general lack of resourcefulness when I was attempting to get the people at AT&T to remove the business from my account.
The important question that arises in situations like the AT&T incident is, How can you find happiness in a world that causes you to frequently become frustrated and angry?
There is a key to happiness that most of us never think about. The key is to acknowledge and accept the fact that in the world we live in, there are occasions when we are going to become annoyed, worried, anxious, and angry because of the people and situations we are forced to deal with. When we are confronted with these situations, we must make a conscious effort to realize that while we are going to be frequently frustrated, we have to simultaneously focus on doing the things that make us happy and move us toward our goals, which includes our ultimate goal of doing God’s will.
The mistake that too many people make is they believe that they should be able to get to a point in time when they are no longer going to be frustrated. This particular belief is a fool’s journey that only leads to more frustration, anxiety, worry, and anger.
There is a prayer I sometimes say to Saint Joseph, that starts out this way,
Ever blessed and glorious Joseph, kind and loving father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow! You are the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow. Look kindly on my request. My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness. To you, loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection.
Can you imagine how frustrated Saint Joseph was when he failed to find shelter for his innocent and holy wife who was about to give birth to the world’s Redeemer?
How do you think he felt when he heard the prophecy of Holy Simeon who declared that the child Jesus and His holy mother would be victimized by our sins?
How did he feel when the angel declared to him that the child Jesus was being hunted by His enemies and that they had to flee to Egypt? The long and dangerous journey had to cause Saint Joseph great anxiety and frustration.
And how frustrating was it for him when his 12-year-old son was missing for three days? Saint Joseph did not know whether Jesus had been kidnapped or killed. Did he get any sleep while he searched for Jesus?
Despite all his frustrations, Saint Joseph still found happiness in knowing that he was doing God’s will, which included serving Jesus and Mary.
When you consider all the frustrations that the holy family was forced to go through, it’s easier to understand and accept the frustrations that you are confronted with. And it’s even easier when you keep in mind that while you are capable of creating a certain level of happiness in this life, as long as you remain faithful to God, you will enjoy true eternal happiness in the next life.