Saturday, November 15, 2014


A few months ago, my little Canon camera developed a symptom of the flash sometimes firing when I turned it off. After it began to happen about half the time, I took it in to Gasser’s and they sent it to Canon for a $35 estimate, and then said the repair would cost just $100, which apparently was an unusually low amount. In two weeks, I had the camera back, but minus the battery. Fortunately, I had documentation showing I had left the battery with them, and they found it and said they’d mail it to me, but it never turned up. Finally, they said they’d just give me a new battery if I stopped by.

I walked over to the store—it’s not far from where I work—and a young man in the repair department, A., showed me what had happened with the battery they’d mailed: the envelope was in his hand, returned for insufficient postage. He was really nice about it and apologized repeatedly and offered me a discount on a camera bag or some such. I told him that wouldn’t be necessary: now I had the battery and all was well.

To my aging eyes, he seemed terribly young, like in his 20s? Is that old enough to have a job? I really appreciated how bothered he seemed by the snafu with the battery, and wanted to encourage him in his career, so I sent a note saying he had handled everything perfectly, and that I can see he’s an asset to Gasser’s and that he shouldn’t worry that Gasser’s had lost a customer.

I put the battery back in the camera and started taking pictures, and after about 20 pictures, the flash went off when I powered down. I called Gasser’s and someone there said they could send it back to Canon. I said maybe I would just live with the symptom, but I’d appreciate having my $100 back. The fellow said it didn’t work that way and convinced me that we shouldn’t let Canon off the hook so easily, and so I dropped the camera back off, and then nearly four weeks passed, during which every time I called, A. was at lunch or on vacation, or I was told someone else would call me back but no one did, or someone was curt bordering on rude.

I called them back recently, expecting to be thwarted yet again, and by this point had decided that the employees at Gasser’s were incompetent bordering on malevolent, so, prior to making the call, and bolstered by thoughts of the annoying things that had happened, I was mentally rehearsing peevish things to say, but also noticing what these potential statements indicated about what I feel entitled to:

“My camera has been there for nearly six weeks, all told.” (I’m entitled to a speedy resolution, to get what I want in a timely manner.)

“Every time I’ve called about this, the person I need to speak to has been away at lunch or gone on vacation.” (I’m entitled to be able to reach the person I need to speak to right away.)

“More than once, I’ve been told my call would be returned, but never got a call back.” (I’m entitled to have my calls returned.)

“One person I spoke with was impatient and unfriendly.” (I’m entitled to be treated with kindness and courtesy at all times by all people. Once in a while I reflect on the glaring contrast between how I sometimes see others and how I would like them to see me: I might assume the worst about them, but want them to assume the best about me. I take their unwise actions to be proof that they are bad people while counting on them to look beyond my unwise actions to somehow discern the mostly kind heart beating underneath.)

By the time I actually placed the call, I was back in a neutral frame of mind, intending to be polite and pleasant. I told the person who answered the phone that I was calling about my camera that had been there for nearly six weeks, but then, already warming to my topic, I started to feel a little annoyed and mentioned that I was not having much luck getting in touch with anyone in the repair department. The person interrupted me and said he’d transfer me to the that department.

I spoke with A. himself, who said he’d been on vacation (and out to lunch) and then he thanked me for the card I’d sent. Thus I was saved by my own earlier act of kindness, because then the tone of the conversation was entirely friendly. He was remembering the nice thing I did, I was remembering the nice thing I did (because he reminded me), and there was no room for petty complaint.

He said he had bad news and good news for me: Canon had been unable to fix my camera, but instead had sent me a brand-new camera, still in the box, which I can pick up at my convenience. (I guess it’s good that the repair was estimated at $100. This means I have basically bought a new camera for $100. It’s a good thing the repair didn’t cost $350.)

Weirdly, I feel a little nostalgic for my old camera. It was my shiny little friend, but I’m sure I’ll warm up to the new camera right away.
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