Energy and persistence conquer all things.
— Benjamin Franklin
Sending a Simple Money Gram?
My wife and I sent a money gram from Wells Fargo to a relative. Sounds easy as pie, right?
Unfortunately, the relative was not able to collect the money because their name had been typed incorrectly.
We went back to Wells Fargo the next day and asked the teller for help. The teller walked over to talk to the manager. She came back to her window and told us,
“I’m sorry, we can’t help you.”
You Are Traveling Through Another Dimension
“What do you mean you can’t help us? Are we in the Twilight Zone? You got us into this mess.”
She stared at me like she didn’t know what I was talking about.
“You know, the old TV show with Rod Serling.”
She continued to stare without blinking.
“A spooky show where strange things happen . . . never mind.”
The teller said,
“I do apologize. After we send the money gram, we don’t have anything else to do with it. You will have to call this 800 number.”
She solemnly handed me a paper with an 800 number on it and began to tidy up here teller area, indicating the conversation was over.
We’ll get home and this phone number will only give us the runaround. They should just call the 800 number for us, while we’re here, I thought.
Unfortunately, I didn’t say it out loud.
Of course, we went home and called the 800 number and there was nothing on the menu related to money grams. What’s worse, it was impossible to speak to a human being.
Our Dander is Raised
The following day we marched back into Wells Fargo, ready to give someone a piece of our mind.
This time, a different crew was working there. The teller passed us on to a personal banker. She introduced herself.
“Hi, my name is Shirley Atkins. How may I assist you?”
“Well, we came yesterday to fix a spelling problem on our money gram. The clerk told us to call this 800 number, which we did, but we hit a brick wall.”
“Please have a seat. Let me give it a try.” Our indignation started to melt away.
She called the 800 number.
“How frustrating,” she said. “It’s impossible to talk to anyone. Let me try some other number.”
While she dialed phone numbers, Shirley also engaged us in light chit-chat.
“What type of jobs do you have?” she asked.
“We are teachers,” my wife responded. “How long have you worked here?’
“Only one week,” Shirley said.
Aha, I thought. Maybe that’s why she is so good. She hasn’t worked here long enough to become contaminated.
After about 10 minutes of pleasant conversation, interspersed with Shirley talking to people on the phone, she had resolved our problem.
The question ran through my mind,
How is it that Shirley was such a good employee, and the other employees were so bad? Were the others just part of an android experiment gone horribly wrong?
The truth may never be completely known, but I do kn0w that if we hadn’t been persistent we would never have resolved our problem.
An Earlier Pivotal Moment
I was reminded of a similar incident that took place when I was student at Colorado State University.
I was terrified of public speaking, but I was required to take a speech class. In spite of my enormous anxiety, I managed to make all of the speeches. Granted, I was as nervous as Don Knotts, but the content was good, and almost all of my speeches received a grade of “B.”
At the end of the quarter, I was shocked to find that I received a “C” on my report card for Speech.
This must be a mistake! I know I did better than that.
However, I was so introverted that the idea of confronting the teacher mortified me. For years afterwards, I had headaches when I thought about that incident.
Ironically, I could have applied the public speaking skills I had learned in class, but at that time I just couldn’t muster the courage to do it.
As time passed, that one incident has motivated me to stand up for my rights. The pain of that memory transformed into a source of strength.
These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.
Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.