Key Point: You and I are worth much more than a commercial transaction. Yet, that’s what I often feel like: Just a process transaction. I would like to remind everyone that there is a human being impacted by every transaction. This lesson was very personally and poignantly reinforced during the past week.
On June 16, I had the unfortunate experience of forgetting my briefcase in a hotel room. It was uncharacteristic, because I carry and guard that case like the famous “football” with the nuclear launch codes. Why? I travel frequently, and find it necessary to have it with me at all times. The bag has my Canadian and U.S. passports, Nexus pass, several hundred dollars in various currencies, social insurance cards, birth certificate, all my frequent flier cards, etc. Before you judge me as to the wisdom of keeping all this “stuff” in one bag, I trust you get the value and importance of the briefcase.
I was on my way to an airport in the Okanagan of B.C. to fly out and pick up my 9-year-old grandson in Seattle. The plan was to road trip back by car to our summer home in Canada so he could spend a few of his holiday weeks with his grandparents. He and I were both excited about the prospect. The hotel where I left my briefcase was four hours away from the airport, and you could imagine my stunned reaction when I arrived at the terminal to realize that I could not fly to the U.S. as planned that day. No briefcase, no passports. My knees literally buckled when I realized the situation and consequences. What would I say to my daughter (his mom) and grandson? Months of planning… Geez. I felt super frustration, guilt and an overwhelming desire to beat myself up (even though I blog all the time about how wasteful and useless self/other blame is).
The next 48 hours involved a desperate attempt to retrieve the briefcase. Here’s the summary:
- I call the hotel. “Yes sir, we found your case. We can send it by courier to the destination of your choice.” (I needed it to be sent to Kelowna… I’ll miss my flight, but can recover by getting to Seattle a day later). The woman at the hotel was very understanding and empathetic. She appreciated my pain and went out of her way. The briefcase was scanned and received by courier at 3:30 p.m., and the bag was supposed to arrive by midnight at their depot in Kelowna. They were to call me to confirm its arrival.
- The next day, 7:00 a.m., (after a restless sleep), I call the courier office in Kelowna with the tracking number in hand. The call is answered by someone who is not very interested… “Hi, I’m calling about ____, tracking number _____ .” He responded asking, “Did I call you?” Me: “Well no, but I hope my package arrived…” Courier guy: “Well, if I didn’t call you, it’s not here.” Me: (Now feeling incredible angst), “Do you know where it is?” Courier guy: “Last time it was scanned was in ____ at 3:30 p.m., hasn’t been scanned since.”
- For the next 24 hours I dealt, in the most respectful way I could muster, with an unbelievably insensitive, unresponsive number of people representing the courier company. I felt so helpless and alone. One courier employee actuality said to me, “Hey… It’s your problem, if the package doesn’t get scanned I can’t help you and I really don’t care. I can’t tell you where it is and have no idea when it might show up. After 10 working days, if it still isn’t here you can fill out a claim form.” Exasperated, I emphatically explained: “You don’t just deliver packages, you deliver goods real people depend on, and it often dramatically impacts theirs and others’ lives.” I’m pretty sure my plea and viewpoint didn’t register.
Finally, 48 hours later than promised, (and after an unbelievable set of circumstances and relentless persistence on my part), I did eventually get the briefcase and most importantly, managed to bring our grandson home. What struck me though was how devalued I felt being defined simply as a process transaction. This happens too often because people doing their jobs think of the work they do as just that, a “job;” just another darn transaction between paychecks.
- Purpose deeply matters. I really believe if the people at the courier company sincerely understood they were in the life impacting business, and not simply in the package delivery industry, their reaction and support to me would have been much different. Not once did anyone give me any indication that I was more than just any old misplaced package with a tracking number. How about you in your job? Who is at the end of the processes you’re responsible for? Do you know them? Do you care? What is your purpose? Trust me… It really does matter.
Purpose in The Triangle,
One Millennial View: Wow, what a nightmare. Anyone who has ever had a wallet or phone stolen, or misplaced, knows that sick feeling of missing something imperative. Certainly, if someone is in a position that can help solve these situations, it’s nice to believe they’d have the pride and wherewithal to understand that their conduct will have great impact on those they’re assisting. We get it, it’s “just a lost bag.” It’s a lost material item in a world where toddlers are getting eaten by alligators on vacation at Disney World. But, you know what? Just because it’s not life or death doesn’t mean it shouldn’t matter. It’s too bad we’re quicker to trivialize than take care.
– Garrett Rubis
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis