What Do You Expect?
Posted on January 4, 2010
This afternoon, Waverly and Emerson selected 70 or so images from the bizillion I took in India. They wanted to print them out and show them to their classmates on the first day back to school. For quick and cheap prints, we use Costco’s 1 hour photo by uploading them online and picking them up at the local store. Although the site said they’d be ready at 8:26pm, I thought I’d head over early expecting them to be done already.
After arriving just before 7pm, the photo clerk said that a ginormous order of 2,000 images was being downloaded from another customer…and it was going painfully sloooooooow.
“It’ll be around 30 minutes,” she said.
“I hope they’ve got some good samples tonight,” I joked.
There were no samples, and it didn’t take 30 minutes. It took almost 2 hours. After meandering 5 laps around the store, reading a complete magazine, and consuming a berry smoothie, I finally left with the stack of photos…for free. I didn’t complain or have an attitude or ask for a discount. I just waited.
I kept asking myself, “Why am I not getting angry right now?”
Maybe it was my meds…or maybe I just have different expectations these days. Maybe I expect that things will go wrong. It’s not that I expect the worst, but I do anticipate that things won’t always go smoothly. Is that pessimistic…or realistic?
Maybe it’s just crazy that I usual get my photos in one hour. Think about it. I’m using a $3,000+ camera to take hundreds of images on the other side of the world which I reached via this thing that flies. I take a digital file and modify it to my liking on this thing that costs a couple of thousand dollars that didn’t even exist when I was born…a laptop computer. I upload this modified file to a server that resides in a state that only God and a couple of techs at Costco know about…and I walk away with it for 13 cents…or in this case for free.
So, when it doesn’t show up in my hand in an hour…should I be angry that my expectations weren’t met? Or, have I trained myself (and been trained by others) to have expectations that are unreasonable?
The truth is that the more we raise the bar on quality and service…the higher our expectations become upon corporations, employees, and ourselves. Yes, we take new ground in so many ways, but we’re also setting ourselves up for a great deal of pain when our expectations go unmet.
Maybe it’s a good thing to hold high expectations in tension with the fact that things won’t go as planned. Believe me…I have VERY high expectations for myself and others. Yet, when those expectations aren’t met, there are repercussions…in business and in life. Clients are lost. Money is wasted. Time is unrecoverable. Relationships are broken.
Yet, in the midst of unmet expectations, there is also an opportunity for grace.
On other days, I would have been all huffy and puffy about the situation. I would have been in a hurry. I would have had a horrible attitude and let the clerk know about their poor service. Not today. I could see her stress. I could see that she was trying to solve the issue. I put myself in her shoes.
Maybe that’s what we all need to do…put ourselves in the position of the one who has not met our expectations. I wonder if we’d show a bit more grace then.