Posted by on May 1, 2019

I learned some time ago that one can avoid becoming overly frustrated by keeping one thing in mind: the world is abundantly populated with incompetent people.  Approach every day assuming that the people you meet will be incompetent, and you will save yourself a boatload of frustration.

Yesterday (Tuesday, April 30, 2019) offered two brilliant examples:

1)  My daughter asked if she could go to McDonald’s as I brought her home from school (there are four McDonald’s restaurants in the greater Dover area, so I’m not casting aspersions at any one in particular).  We took the drive-thru, she placed her order, we paid at the “Pay Here” window, and, upon approaching the window to receive her goods, were asked to pull around the corner, as the burger was still being prepared.

A few minutes later, a nicely-dressed, pleasant-looking older gent emerged from the building carrying her milkshake and a bag in which we hoped were the items she ordered from the “2 for $5.00” menu: a burger, chicken nuggets, honey mustard sauce, and extra ketchup.  Instead, it held the burger and nuggets, but honey barbecue sauce and no ketchup.  The nice man took the sauces back and returned with the right flavor and some ketchup packets.  (However, we also discovered that they never put any napkins in the bag, either.  We decided not to ask the fellow to make another trip and just have Karlyn use the tissues in the car).  Not to disparage McDonald’s as a corporation, but, considering the level of qualifications it takes to work there, this kind of thing should be expected.  And, if I expect it beforehand, I am spared any frustration when it happens.

2)   The local dealership from which we bought our van sent us notification about a tire promotion (buy three, get the fourth for a buck).  I called on Monday (April 29th) to make an appointment, as the deal ended on the 30th.

I took the van in around 9:00 AM and told the receptionist I would wait, as they told me it would probably take about an hour.  To pass the time, I had taken a couple of magazines to read as I waited.  My reading was interrupted periodically by something “Judge Judy” would say on the waiting room TV, but, all in all, my time passed pleasantly enough.

About 45 minutes later, the lovely receptionist came in to announce that she had some “bad news.”  It turned out that their supplier had sent the wrong size tires.  Would I be able to return the next day?  They would be sure to have the correct size for my van.  Fortunately, that was not a problem.  I took the van to the dealership, and wife Evelyn picked me up after dropping our daughter at her internship.

While I was waiting for Evelyn to arrive, I said to the receptionist, “Just out of curiosity — I got to wondering why it took the service department 45 minutes to realize the tires they had were not the right ones for my vehicle.”  She said that there had been another vehicle on the lift when I arrived, so waiting for that work to be finished, then putting my van on the lift, gathering the tools they would need … well, it just took a few minutes to get all that together.


However, what we have in this little scenario is yet another example of someone’s incompetence (very likely the person at the beginning of the supply chain who sent the wrong tires to begin with, but also whoever it was who received them at the dealership and didn’t notice they were not the ones they asked for).

I just smiled, thanked the receptionist, and waited for my ride home.  Frustrated?  Of course not.  How could I be when I expected incompetence from the get-go?

Posted in: Writings