I recently had an experience which left me incredibly stressed without cause. This is what happens when a situation is artificially inflated beyond necessity. Today I’m sharing that experience as a lesson to all of us to be conscious of what we give out to the world, and how small choices can change how others experience our interactions. This is a summary of a phone call I received recently. I’m telling it as I experienced it. — I picked up my phone to see a missed call and voicemail from an unknown number. Hmm, I think, I hope it’s not that company trying to sell me vacations again! “Hi this message is for Julie. If you are not Julie please hang up immediately. I’m calling from the offices of CRS. Mam, we recently received your case here. I’m pretty sure you are unaware of what has taken place. It is imperative that we get a phone call from you – or your representation – immediately, today, to resolve this before any further action is taken.” I hang up. Immediately, my heart is beating faster. Immediately, I’m worried. What could I have done?! What could be happening in my life that would cause such a big deal? How much will this cost me? Should I call a lawyer and have them call this person? Why would he mention that I need an attorney?! I grab a pen and paper and run into the other room. I sit down. There is no breathing. My heart beats faster. I dial the number. He picks up on the first ring. “Hello. Let me just pull up your case. Do you have a pen and paper?” I think – OH GOD. Yes, I have a piece of paper and pen but I don’t think I can write legibly over the shaking. My stomach hurts. How will I tell Chris?! “Okay. You’ll need to write this down. Mam, you owe (dental service) $95.” …. I’m sorry … can you say that again? “You owe (dental service) $95.” So… you’re saying this is about a dental bill? “Yes, mam. For services rendered this past spring. You owe $95.” This is about a dental bill, under $100, and you left that message on my voicemail?! — Turns out there was a miscommunication in the dental office about our insurance. And, as a result, this person nearly gave me a heart attack. There are two ways to approach situations like this: assuming fault and assuming best intentions. I like to live in a world where – in most cases – people want to pay their bills, get along with others, and are well-intentioned, responsible individuals. It’s a much happier place to be. And if this person also lived in this world, he could have left this, alternative, voicemail: “Hi Julie. I’m calling today to discuss the outstanding balance of $95 with (dental service). Please call to make arrangements.” Of course his job is to make sure bills get paid and that people respond back to him to try to settle the bills. But harassment by debt collectors is an increasing issue in the world of debt collection, despite the fact that overall bad debt has decreased substantially in recent years. And it’s affecting people’s lives in a real way. My case, of course, is a very minor one. And I’m SO very thankful for that. Honestly, my heart goes out to anyone that experiences this form of harassment in any real way. I just can’t imagine.
I wanted to share this story today – in preparation for the holidays – as a reminder for each of us to be mindful of what we put out onto the world. Sure, this person was doing their job, but was it necessary to scare me? Regardless of our job, our opportunities, our obligations – we all have to take responsibility for what we put out to the world. In each action that we take, we have a choice with how we offer it. Own that choice. We’re allowed to be affected by what enters our world, but that doesn’t mean we need to place that same burden on others. You will never be perfect. I will never be perfect. Accepting the circumstances we are under and the circumstances of others are under can be freeing. And if we can put mostly good out there, and if we can accept our moments of challenge and triumph, then we allow the opportunity for a happy, stable, prosperous existence. Happy Holidays, everyone! xoxo, Julie