Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Speak Softly with Authority While Breathing in Peace & Breathing Out Love

You have the gift of gab today and everywhere you turn, the words continue to slip out. You are at your best when you are talking about your recent experiences, yet this isn't a time to rest on past achievements. Throw caution to the wind and open your mind as wide as possible before acknowledging that you can do anything you want.

The above was my horoscope yesterday. Do I believe in horoscopes? Well, uh, no, I don't. Do I trust horoscopes? Of course not. Then why do I read horoscopes? Well, uh...let me tell you a story, which you may already know if you read Nick's Bytes post on Monday:
An American scientist once visited the offices of the great Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Neils Bohr, in Copenhagen, and was amazed to find that over his desk a horseshoe was nailed to the wall.

The American said with a nervous laugh, "Surely you don't believe that horseshoe will bring you good luck, do you, Professor Bohr?"

Bohr chuckled. "I believe no such thing, my good friend. Not at all. I am scarcely likely to believe in such foolish nonsense. However, I am told that a horseshoe will bring you good luck whether you believe in it or not!"

So... even though I don't believe in horoscopes, I took that part about
the gift of gab and decided to spend the day using my voice to solve some of the varied pickles that I seem to have recently found myself in. So.... I spent six hours on the phone with the following results:
  • My bank ended future $35 overdraft charges & refunded $43 from the last $105 of charges.

  • Direct-TV agreed to refund of the mistaken charge they took from account that led to that $105.00 overdraft charge. However, they refused to refund it to my VISA/debit card account and are issuing a check which they say won't reach me for 3-4 weeks.

  • After 3 phone calls (to India, I think) I convinced Salliemae to allow ME to control payments on my 22-year-old seminary student loan rather than their computer.

  • With the refunded $43 I was able to pay the $5 Medicare co-pay for a critical Rx that I have been out of for over a week

I am telling you this not to boast of my success, but to explain how I was able to do it. For all of my gift of gab, I have difficulty dealing with the minions of huge, capitalist corporations.I usually end up feeling as if I am (1) being talked down to, (2) discounted, and (3) treated as a thing rather than a human being. I also often feel oppressed, with all of the powerlessness that goes with oppression.

Phrases like the computer won't allow that, it is our policy, and that is not our problem usually have me seeing red and triggering in me the fight or flight response.

Yesterday I decided not to be manipulated. Thus, during each phone call I not only dialogued with the agent and presented my case, but I also paid attention to my breathing. With each in breath I thought Peace in; with each out breath I thought Love out.

It worked. It worked well. I did not feel intimidated to the point of giving up and running. I only came once close to forsaking peace for a yelling match. That was with the very nasty and inflexible woman at Direct-TV who was unable to say anything that wasn't in her script-book. So, I asked to speak to her supervisor, to which she replied (probably from the script) that the waiting time to speak with a supervisor was at least 45 minutes. Frustrated and close to losing my cool, I said to the woman, No, thank you. I promise you that I will, however, tell my blog readers of our conversation, mentioning, of course, Direct-TV. I just kept my promise.

Blessings, peace, and love to you, my friends.


  1. You have to fight the battle, or you get swallowed in the technological garbage disposal. I'm glad you braved it.

    I had a situation with my mortgage company in which I was told over and over that they couldn't do that because it was a computer-controlled item. I kept up the catter-walling until I found someone who said, "Well, of course, we can do that." And they did!

  2. I forgot to mention that once I expressed a frustration about my DSL provider on my blog, and they contacted me to see how they could fix the situation and make me a happier customer. I hope you have such good luck!

  3. Good for you! I'm glad you were able to maintain your peacefulness. They do try to rile you with their crappy routines. And hey, if Direct TV won't work with you I will give plenty of bad publicity to the company on my blog too!

  4. Way to go, Nick! They can't have the power to take away our peace if we don't give it to them.

    I like that you kept your promise regarding Direct TV. :-)

  5. Lynilu: Thank you, my friend. I now realize that if I had been willing and able to fight such battles 4 to 6 years ago, I woukd still own my home and most probably not be in the financial or physical condition I find myself now. But that's in the past and I cannot go back.

  6. Lynilu: I'm glad that you found someone at your mortgage company who was able to do "the impossible." I rather wish someone at my mortgage company who has reminded me that out of the escrow payments I was making each month was an insurance premium that would make my payments should I become totally and permanently disabled. The Social Security Administration found me to be totally and permanently disabled effective in 2003, four years before ABN-AMRO foreclosed!

  7. Liberality: Thank you, my dear friend. I used to be able to deal with just about anyone and any situation and remain calm and centered. Had I not, I certainly would not have been able to remain a social worker and minister. However, as I dug myself in the pit I was in for four years, I rather forgot how to do that and. as Richard Farina wrote, I'd been down so long that it looked like up to me. Then I really allowed them to "rile me with their crappy routines."

    I believe that Direct TV has responded as much as they are going to respond. So, if you want to mention their name, I'm all for it!

  8. Carol: Thank you, my friend! I almost didn't keep my promised regarding Direct TV; however, I concluded that I am most probably not the only person that they have tried to victimize and that thought put me into activist mode!

  9. Akelamalu: Thank you, my friend. If anything, my six hours on the phone reminded me that I need not be a loser or a victim. I am no longer down so low that it looks like up to me.

  10. EVERYBODY: I just noticed that one of the Google Adsense ads on my sidebar is for attorneys who are preparing a class action suit against BB&T Bank regarding their policy of charging overdraft fees of $35.00/overdraft and allowing them to build up indefinitely. Sooooooooo, I filled out their form and hope that they do pursue the class action suit!

  11. I like that post title!

    And congrats on your good fortune.

  12. Some people can be horribly bureaucratic like the woman at Direct TV, yet she was probably doing what she was instructed to do. Heaven help us if we use our initiative!

    I think "naming and shaming" is the way to go. As an additional diabolical act, you could print out the comments and send them to Direct TV. It may not achieve anything but what a wonderful feeling you'd have...

  13. Travis: Thank you. I thought that Speak Softly with Authority While Breathing in Peace & Breathing Out Love was a bit long, but then decided I'd use it anyway!

  14. Puss-in-Boots: Thanks for your comments. I think that the Direct-TV agent was even worse than most bureaucrats!

    I really believe that she was using a script book that gave her lines to say depending on the situation. How else would she instantly know that the waiting time to speak with a supervisor was 45 minutes?

    During my very brief (and appalling) experience as a life and health insurance salesman, I was given such a book to use when "telephone canvassing." Fortunately I have never been good at following scripts, especially when I realize that the words are untruthful.

    I appreciate your suggestion regarding printing and sharing with Direct-TV the comments to this post. I would hope that such feedback would encourage them to treat their customers as people and not as things

  15. Maybe we could give the stars some extra credit on this subject. Just yesterday I had a conversation with someone about NOT approaching such things & the consequenses that I had suffered as a result.

    I loved how you talked yourself right thru it all :) Hugs to you & Alex.

  16. You certainly accomplished a lot, Saintly Nick. And, you did it well.

  17. Hi Nick,
    Well my friend, your post title has hit me like a brick wall...
    If I could only tell you of all the hastles coming my way; it would take hours.

    I'd rather not vent, but it's one of these timles when you are peaceful and someone's gab has been dumped on you.A sibling; it's even better like that.
    Oh, it's a mess !

    But I have a new project, for me. I shall be working on that soon.

    Take care & celebrate your victories !
    Peace to you :)

  18. Bette: Thank you. You know, I really believe that we humans have lots of abilities within us and we can use them if we remind ourselves that we have them. Then we become the person that Kipling wrote of:

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    ' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
    if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
    And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

  19. Barbara: Thank you. I'm glad the title touched you. I pray that you'll be able to breath in peace and breath out love as you deal with the hassles and your new project.

    As for victories, they may often be fleeting. I just learned that my bank has charged me another $35.oo for a $2.00 overdraft. Telle est la vie.

  20. I had direct tv for 4 years. I had a fire and they charged me $217 for movies they said were in a fried receiver- I explained and explained nicely- then I called to cancel and they said stay on the phone17 minutes and we will make sure there is no cancellation fee. After 4 years they charged me 200 to cancel and 217 for fried reciever. I said bye bye and they sent me to collections which I disputed with state consumer agency. they are in trouble and poorly run. I love dish Network whom I've had for a year.

  21. Yes, utilize the power of the written word, in particular on the internet. Companies need to re-learn customer service. We, the customer, have been paying for poor, rigid, non-English speaking, sometimes downright insulting "customer service" for too long. Something CAN be done, as computer programs are created by men, not by computers.

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