I want to share a small personal story about speaking up. We talk about reporting suspected child abuse all the time. Penn State has made reporting, or not, front-page news. This story has nothing to do with child abuse or even kids.
I was in a car wreck leaving Portland last week. Traffic stopped on the freeway and so did I, but unfortunately the two cars behind me did not. They used my car as a bumper to stop themselves. I was a little shaken up, but not seriously hurt, nor was anyone else.
Our Honda came through with flying colors. It had less damage than either one of the other cars. Okay here comes the story: I took the car in to the dealer to get an estimate. They happened to be very busy on Friday afternoon so there was a bit of a wait. Fortunately they had a party earlier and there was leftover pizza on a table and I was starving so I helped myself. As I was eating my pizza and waiting for my name to be called, the receptionist was calling over the loud speaker that customers were waiting and please come to the office to help them. After about five minutes a women comes into the office from the shop and starts talking to the receptionist in an agitated voice. The receptionist tries to tell here about the customers and the estimator yells at the receptionist “ No, you just need to listen to me!” and then walked out of the room.
A few minutes later the receptionist calls my name and tell me that the screamer (my word not hers) will see me in few minutes. I said do you mean the woman that was just so rude to you? She looked surprised but tried to ignore my comment. I just said no thank you. I am not interested in doing business with people like that and I would try another time. She says are you sure and I said I’m positive and walked out.
An hour later I got a phone call at home from someone who I thought was the rude woman (I found out later it was the receptionist) and she apologized for what happened and asked me to please give them a second chance. If I would make an appointment for Monday morning she would see that I got right in and the manager would help me. I was so impressed that she called and actually asked for a second chance I said yes.
When I arrived I was thanked for coming back and the manager came right out to help me. That was when I discovered that it was not screamer that had called, but in fact her victim. The manager was very kind and told me he loved working there and was proud of their reputation. He said he would be dealing with the offender to see it never happened again. He told me he was glad for the opportunity to show me a different side than what I had seen on Friday.
We finished and as I went to leave he said that regardless of the business side of things he wanted me to know how much he appreciated me speaking up, because “it’s just the right thing to do.” I looked him in the eyes and saw they were a little red and watering.
Wow. I walked out of there feeling good about myself and my faith in humanity restored. An unpleasant encounter at a car dealer (of all places), and instead of just walking away, I said something. It must have empowered the person I said it to, so she did something about it. A victim had someone speak up for them. Someone asked for a second chance, and new behavior for me, I gave it. A supervisor got reminded of what’s important in life and a thoughtless person gets told it’s not okay to act that way.
Speak up; you might be surprised by the outcome. I was.