“Can I talk to your manager?”
I don’t ask this question often. Generally, I believe that people are honest and rational and fair and kind
On a recent trip, however, I ran into a situation where I had to talk to a manager. I actually even had to talk to customer service and file a complaint.
On the last day of our trip, driving down a busy highway in Florida, the right back bumper on our rental car came loose and started to flap. I thought something had hit us. Then a bit later the left back bumper also came loose and started to flap. At that point I had visions of loosing the entire bumper in the middle of I-95 and causing a major incident.
Karen (my dear friend from college days) and I pulled off the road to call the rental company and ask for help. (A sidebar here: we pulled off to discover over 200 motorcycle riders. Turned out it was biker week in that town!) The rental company told us the bumper would not fall off because it did have screws in addition to the clips that had broken off.
We managed to get back to the airport after pushing and prodding the bumper back into place and using some tape (!) I drove below the speed limit.
When we finally pulled into the rental agency after our challenging journey, I so wanted some understanding and kindness.
“You’ll have to go downstairs and talk to a manager about the bumper.”
That conversation resulted in a new bill in which I got a “refund,” yet when I checked the bill, my new total was higher than my original total. Go figure!
And then after an additional, lengthy conversation with a customer service representative, I received another bill with a $20 refund for a dirty car.
I’m sad. And it isn’t about the money.
I’m sad that so many people at this company did not tell the truth. We didn’t have a dirty car; we had a broken car. That first “refund” was tricky accounting and meant they actually charged me more. And the car wasn’t “fine” as the attendant told us initially when we first rented the car.
Do I expect too much when I expect people to tell the truth—the whole truth, not a half-truth or a twisted truth?
Should I just start assuming that people don’t tell the truth?
But if I do that, how do I form deep, life-giving relationships? Such relationships depend on truth, don’t they?
And then I think about the reputation that comes with truth-telling or half-truth telling. I will never rent from this company again. Had they told the truth and apologized, even without a refund, I would have thought more highly of them.
All of this leads me to wonder what kind of reputation I am building in the truth department.
Do I tell the truth, the whole story, even when it means I must confess my mistake or inadequacy? Do I keep my word when I tell people I will do something with them or for them? Do friends know they can trust me with a confidence? Do friends know that I will speak a hard truth to them sometimes because I care deeply about them?
Seems that telling the truth should come easily, doesn’t it? And yet, it doesn’t. I have discovered that it takes great effort and intentionality, especially in the little moments of life. I’ve failed many times. But I won’t give up. I do still believe that the truth matters and that it builds storm-strong relationships.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18. NIV