Back to blog
Share your work with family and friends!

What an interesting idea, filing a complaint. It is not something I think of doing when things go wrong. It is has been my way to usually think I am to blame or to simply take care of the problem. If a shirt shrinks in the washer, when they say it is washable, I either suppose the water was too hot or I just return the shirt. When my husband leaves his plates and dirty napkin on the table, I know well enough to just leave it for the next time he wants to sit down. I have long learned that there is certainly some kind of complaining that is useless. Actually, I think it’s all pretty useless – complaining, that is.

I saw/heard my mother and some of my siblings on the phone yelling their complaints to service people and lawyers. It was an ongoing song in the family I grew up in and it was always very off key and too loud. And I don’t really recall anything coming of these complaints. There is certainly a time when complaining is the right thing, but I don’t know if I would really call those things complaining. I think there are wrongs. There are things that must be corrected. Women should not be objectified and exploited and when that happens, something must be done to rectify it. Men and women should not be shot because they are not white. These are not complaints, they are travesties that must change.

I do remember once when I did complain. I was at a coffee shop and when I was given my order, the barista leaned over and kissed me. I was stunned and angry. I went upstairs to my office and sat and tried to figure out what had just happened. Did I do something that signaled it was ok for him to do that? Had I known him and forgotten? No and no. I called up and asked to speak to the manager. I had been going to that coffee shop for years and I knew her and I told her what happened. Of course, she was very apologetic and I appreciated that. She said she would speak to him. The next morning when I went in, he was there and he didn’t kiss me and didn’t say anything, which was good. But by the next week, he was gone. I did not feel guilty about that. I suppose that was a complaint that had substance and the outcome was …. who knows? I don’t know what happened to that young man whom I suspect had some larger problems than extremely bad boundaries. I wasn’t glad he was fired, as I suspect he was. I did need to register my objection to the way I was treated and I was glad I did that. That was a compliant that did something, but as most conflicts, it wasn’t a particularly happy ending. I just wish he had never done it.

Ok, complaints. Mostly, I think they are useless and do little to change a situation. I read a book called If Only You People Could Follow Directions: A Memoir, by Jessica Hendry Nelson. It’s a wonderful book and the title is the answer to complaints, which I know is impossible. We just can’t always follow the directions of life. And when we or someone else can’t, we complain. It’s hard to be human.

Leave your comment...