A couple of months ago I booked a one night stay in a farmhouse. We were travelling to Norfolk and needed to stay over. We booked via an online website. A broker. A middle man.
A few weeks before we were due to travel, an email arrived, from the broker.
“Unfortunately, the owner has informed us they are unable to fulfil the booking.”
My first reaction was, ‘damn, that’s a shame’ – it looked nice and I was looking forward to staying there. Quickly that evaporated into a sense of betrayal and deceit. Why had the owner let me down, and worse, why wouldn’t they just say why? I wanted truth.
Unable to get more information, I was ready to move on with my life and put it behind me. The broker had other ideas though. Daily for two weeks I got emails asking me to book an alternative. A venue they could recommend. It was twenty miles away from where I wanted to be. So, I ignored the emails. They served only to remind me that I had been let down. To continue to feed my disappointment. To turn it into a grumble, a bitterness.
Eventually the broker emailed a confirmed cancellation.
Then, two weeks before I had been due to travel, they emailed me, inviting me to have a lovely stay at the very place that had been unable to fulfil my booking. Now they were annoying me.
Then today, three days before my aborted stay, I received a new email. It says, “It’s time to put the finishing touches on your trip. Whether you’re travelling halfway around the world or just down the road, you deserve a great stay. So we’ve put together tips on how to make the most of your time and money.”
When we get it wrong, we simply get it wrong. When we get it wrong and then keep reminding everyone we got it wrong, we really, really get it wrong.
How often do we as human beings, interacting with others around us, effectively ‘send an email’ through not noticing our mistake. Through blindly repeating it? Through inadvertently drawing attention again to the error? Through not seeing another human being with their rights and needs?
It’s not about always being right. Nor is it about never making a mistake. It’s about noticing when we get it wrong. About truth, about honesty. But more, it’s about respect. It’s about noticing an individual. Seeing a human being. Honouring another person and their feelings. Their clever marketing, their smart systems, their ‘customer service’ failed to see me. A commitment to see the person. That’s the commitment they were unable to fulfil.