x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Keeping frustrations in perspective

From taxi drivers taking the 'scenic route' to shop assistants stalking my every move, I have decided from now on to try not to sweat the small stuff.

The other day I ordered from a fast-food chain. When I answered the door, I found the delivery man leaning with his back against the wall, his head in his hands, muttering "it's wrong, it's wrong". After about a minute of this mumbling, he looked at me in what can only be described as anguish, and with tears glistening in his eyes he confessed my order was wrong. He had, in his haste, accidentally picked up fries instead of the onion rings I had ordered as an alternative. He quickly promised to bring me the onion rings straight away, but begged me not to contact the restaurant. I was finding this all very confusing, and failed to see what the big deal was and why he was so visibly upset, especially when he had promised to rectify the mistake.

Then I understood what he was saying. The reason for his misery, and the reason he asked, nay, implored, me not to call the restaurant, was because he was terrified he would lose his job, or at the very least have his salary docked. I told him not to worry about the onion rings, said I'd be fine with the fries and gave him a good tip. And still he stood in my doorway, thanking me profusely and asking me again not to call the restaurant.

Earlier that day, a staff member at a mobile phone shop gave me the wrong sim card, and when I returned to sort it out he realised he had made the error and ended up putting Dh40 from his own wallet into the till to pay for the two new sims I now needed. I was surprised that he paid out of his own pocket and said as much, but he shrugged and said "What can I do? It's my mistake". These incidents have really given me something to think about. Most of us are lucky enough that we're not in jobs where such innocent mistakes could be so costly. Life as an expatriate can be frustrating, and often it's the small things that can add up to annoy us even more. But at the end of the day, that poor delivery man could have been out of a job had I informed the restaurant, which I may well have done had I only discovered the error after he had left.

I have previously written here that I believe in pointing out when service/food is not up to standard, and I stand by that in most cases. But the look on that delivery man's face gave me a different perspective. After all, to me it was a meal without onion rings - I think I'll somehow get over it. To him, however, the ramifications could have been serious.

So from taxi drivers taking the "scenic route" to shop assistants stalking my every move to people barging ahead of me in queues, I have decided from now on I'll try not to sweat the small stuff.

 

sferguson@thenational.ae

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