Pushing the Wrong Buttons by Patty LaRoche

For five hours, I tried to get someone to solve my problem.  I prayed for patience and understanding and no irritability.  For about the first four hours, that worked.  In the fifth hour, patience and understanding and no irritability left the room.

I admitted it was my mistake.  I had googled a hotel where I needed to book two nights.  I typed the name and address in my search bar.  That hotel appeared on my screen.  I picked the size bed and read about the amenities.  The rooms cost more than I had ever spent on a hotel accommodation, but I had to stay where the other speakers were staying.  As soon as I pushed the “Pay now” button, I realized that I had chosen the wrong month. Immediately, I tried to change the date. Nope.  Changes and cancellations were not allowed.  Not good.

Several phone calls and emails later, I realized that I had not dealt directly with the hotel.  Some “third party” had intercepted my google request and had made my reservation.  So wrong!  I called my credit card to ask for my reservation to be cancelled.  Since it was “pending,” there was nothing they could do. Except for that human voice, it wasn’t until the fifth hour of talking to robots that I finally connected to another human, Raul.  When I asked him to simply change March to April, he said that my request was impossible. He was adamant.  I said that my request was possible.  I was adamant.  Round and round we went.

In the hours leading up to that conversation, I concocted Plan A and, if necessary, Plan B.  Fortunately, A worked.  “Raul,” I said, “I will get off this call and cancel my credit card.  You will not get paid.  Or you can change my dates and get your money.”  Apparently I had pushed the right button because within 45 minutes my room had been cancelled (not changed but cancelled).  Five days later, my money was reimbursed. By then the room price had increased dramatically, but at least I would be there when I needed to be and not a month earlier.

Dave said that Plan B was not a Christian thing to do. I consider it ingenious. I was going to tell Raul that if this was not resolved, I would call a shelter near the hotel and donate my two March nights to a worker (or maybe a homeless person).  Surely that would set things in motion. And, except for the motive being revenge, it would be a very charitable contribution.

Revenge, although I justified it in this case, is never right.  Romans 12:19 tells us to leave vengeance to the Lord and not to take matters into our own hands.  But what about when we clearly are in the right? Okay, sort of in the right. Like I was.

Nope.  Not even then. That’s because when we act to pay someone back, several things happen: our relationship with others is damaged; we do not allow God to bring blessings into our life; our Christian witness to others stinks; and it proves how selfish we really are.  In other words, we are spiritually damaged when we operate out of revenge.

Proverbs 10:12 speaks to my situation: Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. In my case, patience and understanding and no irritability were traits wasted on robots who kept telling me which buttons to push (and in the process, pushed most of mine).  By the time I reached Raul, he heard a frustrated person determined to win this five-hour long battle.  The only person that day who needed to hear a kind, gracious Christian speak…well, didn’t.

And we all know which needed to benefit more…and it certainly wasn’t the robots.


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