How Not To Listen

Posted on May 27, 2010


I write this to hopefully help others. We need to be a lot less worried about being nice all the time. It’s exhausting and it could be the wrong reaction. Here’s what happened to me today:

A slow waddling bald fellow came into our hot tub/pool store today. After about thirty seconds he looked like he walked into the wrong store. I asked if I could help him. He didn’t answer. I asked again. He said he didn’t know our store was here even though he’s in the area all the time. I explained that we’d been open for five years. He then waved his arms saying he was confused and that he hates pools and he’s never owned a pool but just inherited one with his new house.

I said I could probably help him figure things out. I recommended chlorine. He told me bromine was better because chlorine is horrible and bromine is good for the environment. I said bromine is not necessarily better and it actually has chlorine in it. He didn’t believe me. I asked why he thought bromine was better and told me that when he was six years old, his eyes burned when he swam in a chlorine pool. I said there are many reasons for skin irritation but he talked over me three separate times to tell me how much he hates pools and how complicated they are. I explained that perhaps maintaining proper chemistry would avoid eye burning issues in the future. He looked confused.

Then he asked if we had a six seater hot tub. I said we have a few here in the store that will seat four to six people comfortably. I mustn’t have understood what he meant by that question because without looking around, he asked again if we have six seaters. I told him that indeed six people could sit in each tub. I clearly didn’t know why this was so important. He looked at me as though I had just thrown faecal matter at him. A large frown began digging into the top of his nose.

He told me we are delivering a six seater tub to his neighbour on Friday. I said that we have no deliveries scheduled for Friday. He said we did. I said we don’t. He told me his neighbours name. I said I’ve never heard of him.

He waived his arms again and accused me of not knowing anything and that I’m not helpful and I haven’t given him any answers. He blamed me for his confusion. I said he was confused in general. The frown dug deeper.

He pointed his finger at me and told me I was being difficult. He said I didn’t know about bromine, or chlorine, or six seaters. He said I either know, or I don’t know – and if I don’t know, I should just say so. I laughed out loud at his un-intended rhyme and told him I couldn’t help him and that he needed to leave.  His frown turned to an all out red faced scowl. I waved ‘bye bye’ to him and he left.

Lesson: Don’t attempt to help those that don’t listen. Life is too short. We simply do not have the time.

Posted in: Words