Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hinges Come In Three Parts, Seriously

I work at a trouble-shooting center for windows and patio doors. If you've purchased one of our products and something goes wrong, I can tell you how to fix it. If for some reason I can't, I can direct you to the person who definitely can. This may not seem like the kind of job most people would want, but I love it! Honestly, I do. And I love it for a lot of reasons.

Number one, I'm known as the "peppy" girl at work. Just this past week, I was walking around on my break, and my trainer called me into the training room where she had a whole group of newbies. "Why don't our windows come with screens out of the box? Why aren't screens a standard feature? This is the twenty-first century! If people want to open their windows, they don't want to deal with bugs!" she said to me when I was in the room.

"You've been listening to my calls," I responded with obvious delight. "While I understand that it can be frustrating to find that your new window unit did not come with a screen, there are a few reasons for this. First, let me just say how sorry I am that this wasn't explained to you at the time of your purchase. It may seem like screens should be a standard feature, but these are the reasons we don't sell screens with our new units...." And off I went, answering the question and offering to sell my trainer the screen she needed for her window.

Immediately, everyone in the training class said, "You must be M! C's told us you were the peppy one. You're reputation precedes you!" It was a glorious moment.

One of the things I like best about my job is the number of really interesting characters I get to talk to in the course of a day. Occasionally, I'll get a customer who's response and attitude cause me to reflect deeper on my responses to and attitude toward God.

For example:

About a week and a half ago, I had a customer call in. The first he thing he tells me after giving me his file number is that he "had to hang up on the person he was talking to earlier because he didn't know what he was talking about." I was immediately on guard for a difficult conversation, and I was not disappointed!

This customer went on to explain to me that he had purchased the wrong hinges for his screen door at the hardware store and needed to order new ones. So, I began by asking what kind of patio door he has. He immediately got upset, and said with no small amount of sass, "I'm calling about my screen door. I already told you that. My patio door is fine."

"I understand, sir," I replied. "However, all of our screen doors are designed to go with our patio doors, and in order to determine which and how many hinges you need for your screen door, I do need information about the patio door itself."

While it's not actually true that I need to know about the patio door to determine the type of hinges, it is true that I do need information about the patio door to determine the number of hinges required for his screen door. But I'm new at this, and the fact that all hinged screen doors have the same hinges, just in different numbers, didn't immediately occur to me.

So, after five or six minutes of this man arguing about how worthless it was to give me any information about his patio door, because he was calling about the hinges for his screen door, and my reiterating that in order to send him the correct parts for his screen door, I needed information about the patio door for which his screen door was designed, he finally relented and gave me the information.

It turned out, he needed three hinges.

Now, our hinges come in three parts--an upper leaf that attaches to the patio door itself, a lower leaf which attaches to the door frame, and a pin which holds the two leaves together.

So, when this guy called in and told me had purchased "the wrong hinges" at his local hardware store, and having determined from the information on his patio door that he finally gave to me that he needed three hinges for this screen door, I put together an order for three upper leaves, three lower leaves, and three hinge pins. Seems pretty simple, right?

Well, as I was going over the order with this man, I told him the parts I was ordering.

"That's not what I need!" he snapped quite rudely. "I just need the upper part of the hinge with the pin attached!" This is not any information he had given me previously when he told me had purchased the wrong hinges from his local hardware store and needed to order the right hinges from me.

"Well, sir," I said sweetly, "I do apologize for the confusion. I understood that you needed the entire hinge set. I can certainly remove the lower leaves from the order, and send you the upper leaves and hinge pins."

"I don't need the upper leaves and separate hinge pins," he snapped. "I need the upper leaves with the pins attached."

"Well, sir," I explained, "we don't make hinges for our screen doors with the pins attached. Our hinges are manufactured in three parts, the lower leaf, the upper leaf, and the hinge pin. If you're missing the upper leaves and pins, I can send you those parts, but they will be separate."

"I don't need separate parts!" he yelled, now irate. "I just want the upper leaves with the attached pin!"

"Our pins do not come attached to either leaf," I explained. "I can order you the parts you need, if you like, but they will not be attached."

"Then they're not the parts I need," he snarled.

"Well, sir," I tried yet again to explain, "these are the only types of hinges we make for our screen doors."

"Well, those aren't the hinges I need!" he yelled.

"Sir, you called to indicate that you had purchased the wrong hinges for our product. I'm trying to get the right hinges ordered and sent to you for our product. The fact of the matter is we only have one style of hinge available for the hinged screen door. That hinge comes in three parts. An upper leaf, a lower leaf, and a pin. If you'd like to order the proper hinge parts for your screen door, I would be more than happy to help you with that today."

"But that's not the part I want!"

"Well, sir, the part you want isn't something we manufacture. If you would like to order the right part for your screen door, I can help you with that...." Click.

He hung up on me.

Now, I'm not one who enjoys being yelled at. I actually find it really rude and disrespectful. I'm willing to make allowances at times because I know that when people get frustrated and upset, they tend to raise their voice. I do it myself. In fact, I remember this one time, I was talking to a friend about something that had really upset me, and in the middle of it, I sobbed, "I'm really sorry! I know I'm yelling about this, but I want you to know I'm not yelling at you, I'm just yelling in your direction."

I'm less willing to make allowances for people like this man who called asking for my help, admitting right off the bat that he had purchased the wrong part, and then ended by yelling at me because he didn't want the right parts for his screen door, and couldn't order the wrong parts for his screen door because the company that manufactured his screen door doesn't manufacture the parts he wanted that do not go to his screen door.

It kind of got me thinking about some of the mistakes we make in our own lives. Mistakes that are bigger than purchasing the wrong hinges for a screen door.

How often do we make the wrong choice, and then come before God and say, "Hey, I made the wrong choice, and here's what I need you to do to fix it!"?

How often do we fail to stop and listen to God when God tells us, "This is how I can help you," or flat out reject that help because it isn't the kind of help we want?

How many of us have gotten frustrated and angry with God because God wasn't giving us what we thought we needed? And how many of us have walked away for a moment, a week, a year, a lifetime because we didn't want what God was telling us we needed?

People are funny creatures. They almost always leave me thinking. The best part of my job is that I get to help people every single day. It may not seem like much, getting people replacement parts for their windows and patio doors, or explaining that they need to lower the humidity in their home during the winter to prevent condensation from forming on the inside edges of their windows. But it means a lot to them to have someone who knows what's wrong with their window, who's willing to acknowledge their frustrations, and do whatever policy will allow to solve the issue their having.

The second best part of my job is collecting stories I'm going to be able to use in sermons for years to come.

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