the first question

24 hour serviceThe plumber is working on our drains right now. He’s running a power snake out toward the street, trying to solve the blockage that meant water came out on our laundry room floor this morning.

Not much. Stopped in time. Plumber called quickly rather than doing it myself.

After hearing the problem, his first question was “Is there a cleanout?”

My answer was simple, “I don’t know.”

And then he shook his head and muttered, “doesn’t know.”

At first I felt somewhat ashamed, as if I should know where it was after living here for 14 years this week. But then I thought, “Why should I know? That’s not my job. That’s why I called you.”

And then I realized that I do that very thing all the time. I assume that people will know where everything is when they come to me for help. And I get frustrated.

Lest you think this is hypothetical, before I walked out of the office to come back home to wait for the plumber, I had a conversation about loading software. I know it isn’t necessary. After all, all you have to do is …

But for the user, who doesn’t know what I know, the software provides an ease of use that is huge.

Don’t make people feel bad for not knowing what you know, for not having the very expertise they called you for.

Make them thrilled that you are care about them and want to help. And won’t scold their ignorance. You’ll replace it with hope and understanding.

(He’s doing fine with the work. I think the water’s flowing the right way. But I’m grateful for the lesson. It’s almost worth the price.)


One response to “the first question

  1. Hugh McDevitt

    What a great reminder about how our actions can impact other people. I know that I’m guilty of this in my interactions with people at work and people in music ministry.