Sometimes, we must be humbled to be thankful

Published 2:02 am Saturday, November 11, 2017

A fistful of mail awaited me in the mailbox, including a window envelope with a familiar return address. “Gracious,” I told myself, “am I getting that bill again? Can’t they get it right?” I pushed aside a magazine and five or six other letters, probably requesting contributions. With a quick slash from my prized red domino letter opener, I tore into the envelope. “Oh no,” I groaned, “it’s wrong, wrong again.”

This called for another long session on the telephone. I dreaded working my way to the extension of the person I needed. More than likely there would be a wait to speak to him or her. I did not have time for a session like that, but I wanted to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

The customer service line rang several times before an automated answer came on. As frustrated as I felt, I resolved to be nice. And calm. If I got no answer to my satisfaction, I would ask for supervisor. This was another one of those typical menu calls. Punch 1 for an address, 2 for this, and 3 for that. Finally I reached the “For all other questions, hold on for one of our representatives” stage. Unwelcome music blared at me while I waited for several minutes until the voice of a real person answered. Calmly I gave her the information she requested. Then I told her my problem.

My glance fell on the bill again as I listened to the rep punch in the identification number I gave her. I checked it again. Oh, no. I had mistakenly read it. There in black and white, right in front of my eyes, was the correct figure. I felt an inch tall.

“Uh, pardon me. I see it now,” I said, and explained I had misread the bill. I apologized for taking the person’s time. She was gracious. My problem really had been resolved, just like a rep had told me in an earlier call. I was glad I was nice to this person in faraway Baltimore, MD, who was patient with me.

I was also thankful I had kept my frustration in check. Maybe it is a little early for Thanksgiving greetings, but it is November, so I wished her a happy Thanksgiving.

That hasty mistake taught me a lesson—I had acted too quickly upon opening my letter.

I went back and read a Thanksgiving message I had just received from a relative. I needed to heed it: “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.”

Sometimes it takes a humbling experience to remind us to be thankful.