The magical floating city of Venice is the most beautiful place my eyes have ever cast upon. The architecture and waterways are so intriguing and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, that you can just get lost in the city and be mesmerised by the surrounding beauty. But apart from the majesty and beauty of the place, there is a darker side to Marco Polo’s hometown – abhorrent customer service! If you are not careful the customer service can start to eat away at your wondrous experience. In order to make sure that doesn’t happen, please learn from my mistakes and remember…
I arrive at the hotel in a foul mood after hauling my suitcase over the Ponte di Calatrava Bridge (a new bridge connecting the Piazzale Roma to the Train Station where they have neglected to place a ramp for people carrying suitcases). The man at the desk tells me that my girlfriend has my key and gives me my room number. I explain that my girlfriend is somewhere in Venice and ask him for a separate key. Mr Angry – as I dubbed him – decides to give me a telling off about the key and he reminds me that I will have to pay €250 should my absent-minded girlfriend lose it. Ok…but can I have a spare key? It seems that grown ups are not allowed their own keys and we have to share…don’t worry though because the butler has a spare key. The butler opens the door to my room, I walk in, he leaves, the door shuts behind me and I am stood in complete darkness because you need a key to activate the electricity.
Not the greatest start to my Venice experience and I was really angry. But upon reflection I handled the entire conversation poorly from start to finish. I was angry when I arrived and I was ready for an argument. Most importantly, I chose to allow him to upset me. I could have just laughed at the whole thing but instead I chose to allow it to anger me. It is important to remember that you cannot always choose your conditions or surroundings but you can choose your reactions.
After placing a piece of paper into the electricity slot I can see myself again. I unpack and immediately ring Mr Angry for an iron so I can iron my clothes. Mr Angry tells me that I cannot use an iron in my room because it is a fire risk. If I want my clothes ironing then I have to bring them downstairs at 09.00. I start to get angrier than Mr Angry!
Once again I get angry and cannot believe that a hotel will not let a 37 year old use an iron. But in retrospect I booked this place – nobody else – me! If an iron was that important I should have checked beforehand? I could have also gotten a good night’s sleep to wake at 09.00 to have my clothes ironed, but instead chose to wander the streets of Venice looking like an angry tramp.
The air conditioning unit kept me awake for three nights with a strange humming noise. When I turned the unit off, it stopped, but it would mysteriously turn on again. My girlfriend (who couldn’t understand my anguish until I pointed it out to her) kept telling me to complain to Mr Angry. I told her it would be useless complaining to the man and just carried on complaining each night. On the fifth night I eventually complained politely to Mr Angry and he fixed my problem.
How many times have we all complained incessantly about a problem, without lifting a finger to solve it? I think it was Albert Einstein who said, “doing the same thing over again and expecting a different outcome is insane.”
The beauty of the human psyche is that we choose our attitude under a given set of circumstances. Nobody in the universe can force our attitude upon us – now that is what I call 100% responsibility. In my next blog post I will offer some advice on how you can improve your behaviour and learn to take more responsibility for your life – lessons I would do well to repeat myself!
Do you have an interesting, funny story to tell about poor customer service and how you didn’t take 100% responsibility?
I had a fantastic time in Venice but I was close to spoiling it on a number of occasions, because I refused to take responsibility for the outcomes I was receiving. Not only could I have spoiled my own experience but also I could have also affected the experiences of those around me.
I would experience unsatisfactory customer service, complain and then at the end of the evening I would realise that everything was in fact my own doing. I would vow to take stock and change my behaviour, and then I would wake up the next morning and repeat the cycle.
I wrote this blog post because I feel like I understand how responsibility works, and yet I still find it incredibly difficult to permanently change my way of thinking so it becomes second nature. I therefore do not believe I am alone in this thinking and we can all learn important lessons from the way I behaved.