Late Spring 2007

Dear Friends

On a recent vacation, I was sitting in the hotel lobby when 3 couples approached the desk to check in. Within a few minutes, it became apparent that there was ''a problem,'' because one of the men was raising his voice and becoming quite animated. Apparently he was upset that the pool was under repair due to damage from a recent hurricane. Really upset. I could see him stomping his foot and hear him yelling while the other 5 people in his party made it a point to back away and give him space. The hotel desk staff was infinitely more patient and conciliatory than I would have been had I been in their shoes, even when he demanded that the one male staff member come around from behind the reception desk so he could punch him in the face. If this wasn't horrifying enough, the desk called hotel security, who escorted Mr. Bad Behavior to the corner, sat him down, and, yes, believe it or not, promptly upgraded his room and comped him a night's lodging. My friends and I heard every gory detail later, in the lounge, as Mr. BB gloated loudly to his friends and virtually the entire place.

Some might call the hotel's course of action ''good customer service,'' but I've been thinking lately about how customer service has evolved over the past years and how it can encourage and reward alarmingly bad behavior. Good customer service involves acknowledging customers for patronizing and supporting a particular business. It also involves doing whatever possible to correct a problem without the customer having to turn into a raving maniac. Yet, the old adage ''the customer is always right'' has created monsters of unreasonable expectations and even dishonesty. From hotel front desks to airport ticket counters to department stores, we observe that the loudest and most obnoxious customers get their way. And believe me, we'd shudder at what goes on behind the scenes, where thousands of employees make their living answering phones and taking orders and reservations, dealing with an increasing number of people who behave unforgivably bad in order to get what they've decided they deserve, no matter how unreasonable.

What's wrong with this picture? How did the concept of ''good customer service'' incubate such hideous conduct? What makes some people feel entitled to so much more than most reasonable people would expect? What in our society has changed that makes it OK to give the bullies their demands on a silver platter, rather than insisting that they act with respect and reason? I don't have the answers, only my growing dismay at the bloated sense of entitlement of some of my fellow human beings. What in the world are we thinking rewarding a tyrant who throws a tantrum because a hurricane has closed a hotel's pool?! As far as I'm concerned, it's not only a case of ''shame on the bully,'' it's also a case of ''shame on us'' for tolerating such behavior.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

From our archives -- The Art of Imperfection

From our archives -- Saddle Up

From our archives -- Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Early Summer 2014 -- Embracing our Dormant Times

From our archives -- Taking Time to Listen

Late Spring 2014 -- Seeing More Clearly

Spring 2014 -- Savor What Makes Your Heart Sing

Early Spring 2014 -- The Power of Quotes

From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

Holiday 2013 -- Taking the Time to Listen

Holiday 2013 -- Open our Hearts to the Good Around Us

Fall 2013 -- How to Cope in Tough Times

Late Summer 2013 - The Priceless Gift of Friendship

Midsummer 2013 -- My Luck is Pretty Good Luck

Early Summer 2013 -- Slow Down Enough to Smile

Late Spring 2013 -- Recognizing Gifts

Spring 2013 -- Doing the Best We Can

Early Spring 2013 -- Know Where You're Going

Holiday 2012 -- Our Power to Adapt

Fall 2012 -- Gratitude for What We Have

Early Fall 2012 -- See the Beauty in Front of Us

Late Summer 2012 -- Modify So It Works for You

Summer 2012 -- Finding Balance

Early Summer 2012 -- Go Ahead and Take that Risk!

Late Spring 2012 - Trusting Your Gut

Spring 2012 - Living Life to the Fullest

Early Spring 2012 - New Year, No Excuses

Winter 2011 - A Thoughtful Tip

Holiday 2011 - How Did I Get Here?

Fall 2011 - Giving Thanks for What We Already Have

Late Summer 2011 - Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Midsummer 2011 - Friends Through Thick and Thin

Early Summer 2011 - The Power of Nice

Late Spring 2011 - The Gifts of Spring

Spring 2011 - Worst Case Scenario

Early Spring 2011 - Break Away From the Herd

Winter 2010 - Lessons From Feral Kitty

Holiday 2010 - The Art of Imperfection

Fall 2010 - When the Student is Ready...

Late Summer 2010 - Saddle Up

Midsummer 2010 - Hurry Up and Wait

Early Summer 2010 - Don't Just Stand There. Do Something!

Late Spring 2010 - Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Taking That First Step

Early Spring 2010 - I Think it's Time

Winter 2009 - Choose Love, Not Fear

Holiday 2009 - Paying it Forward

Fall 2009 - You're Not Alone

Late Summer 2009 - "Searching" for Peace

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