We were catching up on some–to be honest, many–shows Tivoed during the vacation and the episode of Friends resonated with some recent events. Chandler, for the three of you who don’t watch this sitcom, has been running his firm’s Tulsa office all season and commuting home for the weekends. (This pattern is more common in real life than one might expect.) This time around Chandler is forced to stay in Tulsa over Christmas to meet an important deadline so during an Xmas Eve staff meeting he finally explodes with the absurdity of working to meet some artificial deadline set by people unaffected by it, and the absurdity of his whole work existence, so he sends the whole staff home early to be with their families. Chandler quits the job and flies home to be with Monica and the gang.
On the other hand, in real life, three times in the last couple of days I had people who were a pleasure to deal with. First, despite the financial chaos and personal difficulties emanating from it, the United Airlines staff on my nasty flight (and the flight East a few days earlier) were terrific. For a welcome change, the pilot kept us well-informed regarding all the turbulence, what he was doing to get around or above it, and what we might expect, and the flight attendents did not get pissy and ill-tempered at all in dealing with a full plane that included many small children. This from a team of people facing the loss of their equity stake in the airline (one near-certainty of UAL’s bankruptcy will be the complete wipe out of the employee’s collective 55% share ownership) and possible layoffs or salary cuts.
Second, was the woman from the title company who helped me with the closing paperwork on refinancing the mortgage on Casa Lazar; I’m taking advantage of the lower rates to lower my monthly payments. California law and banking bureaucrats mean there are scores, if not a couple of hundred, pages to read, sign, and initial to complete a mortgage and I am surely just a little bit compulsive about reading through what I sign. But this woman was cheerful, patient, and had the answers to my questions as we went through all of it. Which is in contrast to the people from the mortgage office who generated the paperwork, making several key (and annoying) errors in the process.
Third, I stopped by my bank to make a deposit. Things seemed a little odd as I pulled into the branch’s parking lot: unexpected darkness, people standing by the door, paper signs over the ATM machines. I walked up and all became, well, clear: for some reason the building had no power for the day and so the ATMs were off and the branch was more or less closed. The people standing by the door were employees patiently explaining the situation to customers and letting them in if their tasks could still be done. Inside the workers were all in place in the semi-darkness, taking care of us, promising to post the deposits (the main business of the day) tomorrow. Even though their (less than thoughtful) managers hadn’t been creative enough to go out and get some battery powered lights.
All of which contrasts with the doofus at the local post office. Before leaving I’d dropped off a delivery stop form, with delivery to resume when I came down and picked up the mail. Neither the form itself or the man at the counter (at the time I dropped it off) let me know that I needed to call a day in advance to have the held mail sent up from the sorting station a few blocks away. At the pickup counter today I spoke with the same guy who of course insisted he would never accept a stop form without providing the information and phone number! Denial aside, he was the person I left the form with. Too bad he broke my streak.
Three out of five ain’t bad though, not in this day and age.