Customer Service–or Church–Fails, Part III

You’d think that, faced with all the poor customer service I encountered at Sutherlands and Lowes, I might have given up in my quest for the tools that would change my life, but quitting isn’t in my nature. Instead, I pushed ahead to a place that had always seemed pretty decent to me: Northern Tool.

The life-changing item I sought there was a reel for an air hose. Are you tired of have a tangle of air hose around your compressor? Are you sick of having to return your hose after inflating tires or using tools? (Envision black-and-white footage of people struggling with hoses.) Then you need the Klutch Auto Rewind Air Hose Reel! Call soon and we’ll double the offer!

Okay, there was no cheesy infomercial, but the very item I had longed for since January was on sale. With full confidence that my experience would be far better than at my previous two stops, I stepped into the store and grabbed the box.

But then I paused to wonder. How will I connect the compressor to the reel? I found a short hose that would bridge that gap, but then I paused to wonder some more. Did this hose have the right sort of connection?

One of the benefits of shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store is that you can ask the knowledgeable employees questions. So I asked a guy who seemed to be somewhat in charge. I’ll call him Nate. “Is this hose what I’ll need to connect from my compressor to the reel?”

His face let me know that my question was irritating and unwanted. “You have to know how far it is,” he groaned, not at all answering my question. He had important manager stuff to do.

“No, I’m wondering what sort of connector the reel takes. The picture shows–” I continued before Nate cut me off.

“It’ll work,” he blurted. He didn’t add the word “idiot,” but it was clearly implied. He really never looked at what I had in hand.

I tried to show him the photo on the box, but he had no interest in that. That’s when I decided to go ahead and buy the thing.

Would you be surprised to know that the hose I bought turned out not to fit? So Nate of the North not only treated me as a an annoyance, he gave me wrong information. I made a point of going somewhere else to snag the adapter I needed to make the whole thing fit.

Have you ever been in a church where people treated you like an annoyance, where the attitude, spoken or unspoken, told you that people wished you’d at least shut up and preferably go away? As I write this, I realize that I might have given that vibe to somebody in my church. He is annoying, but I’m sure that I am from time to time.

If a church is going to be better than Amazon, then it has to treat its people, whether they are long-time irritants or clueless newbies, as the valued creatures that God sees in them. How much does he value the irritant? Think of Romans 5:8:

 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Nazis in Canada

Flag burning in Canada? In a small town in Saskatchewan, Caleb Pelletier recently had enough of his neighbor’s Nazi flag, so he tore it down and burned it. The neighbor, being an equal-opportunity fool, also flew a Confederate flag, which apparently didn’t incur enough of Pelletier’s wrath to receive the same treatment.

Given that Canadians suffered nearly 100,000 casualties, including 42,000 deaths in World War II, one can imagine that the wounds might be raw when seeing that flag. But Pelletier’s reaction leaves me asking a question. What level of offense do we require before we have the right to tear something off our neighbor’s house and burn it?

The Confederate flag–which is a bizarre thing to have flying in Canada to my mind–apparently did not rise to that threshold, but perhaps someone else might have felt more strongly about it.

And what precisely factors into this offense? Was Pelletier driven by the local angle, knowing that Canadians died trying to defeat the forces who flew that flag? Was he motivated by the broader humanity of it, knowing that the Nazis led to the deaths of perhaps 10 million people total?

Would he have been justified in ripping down an old-school Soviet flag? A People’s Republic of China flag? What about a Japanese or Italian flag? How high does someone’s outrage need to bubble before boiling over into action?

I live just a few miles east of the Missouri-Kansas border, where a real-live shooting war was underway nearly a decade before the official beginning of the Civil War. Can I justify being triggered by my neighbor’s Kansas state flag because many Missourians in my area were deprived of their Civil rights under Order Number 11? Or might someone near my place of employment (in Kansas) look at my license plate and rip it from my car because of Quantrill’s murderous raid on Lawrence, Kansas? Of course that’s silly, right? The Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but then World War II ended more than 75 years ago. How long do we get to hold onto our grievances?

Back in Canada, the mental midget who flew Nazi and Confederate flags over his house might reasonably argue, “What harm does a flag do?” And it really doesn’t do any harm, does it? Shouldn’t we be able to see offensive things without attacking them? And if not, then we’re back to deciding how big the offense needs to be.

This is a tough matter to solve. I want to respect the rights of someone I disagree with but I want to live in a non-hostile community. What’s a thoughtful person to do? I find my guidance from Paul:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.–Romans 12:17-18

While I hold some unpopular opinions and am offended by other unpopular opinions, I don’t think I’m justified in inflicting my ideas onto others. It’s like this blog. If my words offend you, then you can turn from them.