Mistake was humbling

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2013

One day when I saw the mail carrier leave my mailbox, I rushed outside to see what he had brought. “Ah, ha, it’s from that company I’ve called several times. Surely they got it right this time,” I told myself. I ripped the window envelope open and saw a figure, the same one I had previously disputed.

My countenance fell. “It’s still wrong. Totally wrong,” I grumbled. This meant I had to go back to the telephone. I knew I was in for a long session. When I called, I had to work my way to the right person to deal with my problem. I did not have time for punching one, then two, then three, and holding on for one of the representatives. I hated it when a recording popped in every few seconds to tell me, “Your call is important to us.”

My patience was wearing thin when I heard a ring in the distance. Someone with a friendly voice offered to help me. I took a deep breath and furnished the information she requested. I stated my problem. When I heard her punch in the identification number I gave her, my glance fell on the letter I had just received. I blinked my eyes and looked again. There, right before my eyes in black and white, was the correct figure below the disputed one. I felt an inch tall.

“Uh, pardon me,” I stammered. “I see it now.” I explained I had misread the bill. I apologized for taking her time. She was gracious. I was thankful. The problem with a bill had been resolved, just as I had been told in a previous conversation with another representative.

I was glad I had kept my frustration in check when I spoke to this latest person. My first impulse had been to scream, “Why can’t you people get this right?” Instead, I had avoided a more embarrassing conversation and hung up on friendly terms with someone I had never seen in Baltimore, MD.

My hasty mistake, grabbing for the telephone after a quick glance at the letter, taught me a lesson. I realized it was time I picked up and carefully re-read something a relative had sent several days before Thanksgiving. It was not just a message for that season. I knew I should apply it every day.

It read, “Count your blessings instead of your crosses. Count your gains instead of your losses. Count your joys instead of your woes. Count your friends instead of your foes. Count your smiles instead of your tears. Count your courage instead of your fears. Count your full years instead of your lean. Count your kind deeds instead of your mean. Count your health instead of your wealth. Count on God instead of yourself.”

When the company letter arrived, I jumped to conclusions and counted my woes. I gave no thought to counting my joys. I focused on the negative, all for nothing. It was a humbling experience.