I’m currently “at queue position two… in the queue.” That’s what the machine I am dealing with on the phone is telling me, and has been telling me for the past ten minutes. I’m trying to make an appointment for a dental check up, which is not something I am thrilled about) and they are not making it easy for me. I am beginning to lose my patience with the machine’s repetitious messages and beeps. I wonder whether the machine is working and whether I will ever get to “speak to a member of our team” as the machine keeps inviting.
One thing that the waiting is doing is enabling me to practice my one-handed typing, but it is not doing anything else positive for me. I am sure that when the dental surgery installed the system they thought that it was user-friendly and helpful for us patients. To be honest it is having the opposite effect and they may well lose one of their patients if this goes on much longer.
I have now hung up. (Two-handed typing resumes – can you tell the difference?) I can’t spend all day listening to a machine telling me that I am “at queue position two… in the queue.” I would like to move up the queue. I would like to talk to a person. I will be very polite if I ever get to speak to one (see ‘Bless a Bureaucrat Day’ Blog on 9th March). I will now probably visit the surgery in person to make the appointment and will refrain from starting with “Your conversation is important to me, please hold. You are at queue position two… in the queue. Your conversation will be initiated soon.” Instead I will smile sweetly (to show that I have been looking after my gnashers) and ask gently for an appointment so that a dentist can gaze into my mouth and tell me I should floss more regularly.
I know what I ought to be doing, and I try hard to remember to do it – honestly – but I end up feeling guilty every time I sit in the dentists’ chair and try not to exaggerate when I am asked how often I floss. Is that how people feel when they come to church? Do they feel guilty when I try to encourage them to share their faith – they know what they ought to be doing and try hard to remember to do it – honestly – but they end up feeling guilty every time they sit in the pew and try not to exaggerate when I ask how often they talk about Jesus to their friends.
Hmmm. A wise lecturer at Spurgeon’s College, where I trained, said that people respond far better to encouragement than to challenge. I know I ought to be encouraging, and I try hard to remember to do it – honestly – but I end up feeling awkward every time I stand in the pulpit and try not to make people feel guilty. Much grace is needed!