Thursday, February 7, 2008

Politeness Saves the Day ($12)

Wednesday - February 6th 2008

Not a particularly pleasant day at work. I return home in a bit of a grumpy mood. I do the habitual round to the mailbox to pick up my mail and raised an eyebrow at the letter I received from the local library. What was it? I was informed that a book I had borrowed a couple of weeks back - "Blogging for Dummies by Brad Hill" had been damaged and I owed a fine of $24. $24 !!!

My first reaction was that of infuriation. The book already had water-damage on it when I borrowed it. And now I felt I was being penalized for someone else's fault. Besides, it was selling on the internet for $10 (including shipping). Why did they want $24 ?

I immediately drove to the library. I picked up another book and went to the circulation desk. There a kind lady and a not so kind gentleman first informed me that I had a fine and then refused to let me see the damaged book. What's more, they did not even let me check out the book I wanted to borrow. Did I mention that I was fuming through all this ? I was not rude, but I sure as hell was not at my polite best. I took down the number of the library supervisor and then decided to bring up the matter with her the next day.

On my way back home I decided to go over the day's happenings in my head. Some self reflection revealed that I could definitely have handled the situation in a much more calm and informed fashion. Also, I thought about the book. Its not the best book in the world, but it certainly does hold some good tips for amateur bloggers.

Mrs.Micah works at a library and told me that bringing up the case with the supervisor could help me either reduce the fine or get rid of it altogether. Either that or I could just replace the book.

But I saw that all this would need one important ingredient from me - politeness.

Thursday - February 7th 2008

I call the supervisor around 10a.m. I try not to sound defensive and be as polite as possible. I explain my case. I guess she was initially prepared for a stormy conversation. But my calm demeanor took her by surprise. She was a nice lady and saw my point of view. I offered to replace the copy of the book and asked if I could still borrow books while I get the other copy. She agreed to this and to the fact that I could have the damaged copy for myself. She mentioned that there is no clause that states I cannot borrow books with a fine on my account. On learning that I was denied this service last evening, she apologized profusely and said this would not happen again.

I return home and buy the book for $10 on Amazon. I will have to pay $2 processing fees. But in my mind, it was a fair enough deal.

Did I want to buy a damaged copy of the book for myself ? No.
Could I have been more aggressive and gotten them to pardon the entire fine? Possibly.
But the way I see it, I saved $12 off the original $24 fine. Plus, I have a copy of the book.

Lesson learnt - Stuff happens in life sometimes and the outcome may not always be one in your favour. But the important point is to handle it with a calm head. Rudeness and anger can only make it worse.

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