I accomplished a huge victory today that I need you all to know about. I cancelled my subscription to Directv.
No applause necessary. Feel free to send congratulatory gifts, however.
About three weeks ago, my receiver went out, and a technician was supposed to come last night in order to fix it. Long story short, he didn’t show, and my attempt to schedule another appointment was much more complicated and dramatic than it should’ve been. I spent close to an hour on the phone, just being transferred from department to department, and having to repeat the problem to each new person.
I got really frustrated, and ended up texting a friend a message that contained no words – just emojis of knives and bombs.
It’s the contemporary way to express your anger.
Anyway, you’d think I would’ve been eager to channel all those negative feelings into a cancellation phone call. Alas, that is not how Amanda’s brain works
There’s an episode of Friends where Chandler is tired of paying fees for a gym membership that he never uses – however, he knows that there’s no way he’ll be strong enough to cancel on his own, so he enlists Ross’s help for some assertiveness training. They even role-play the interaction for practice:
Unfortunately for Chandler, the gym employees don’t let him off that easily. They remind the poor guy that he’ll lose out on Swedish spa services, call him a quitter, throw in a little body-shaming, and then convince Ross to join the gym.
Most people probably see that scene and think that Chandler is pathetic, or hilarious, or maybe hilariously pathetic. But I see it and think, “This is it. I’m Chandler.” I can feel the man trying to be confident, but losing his resolve. I can feel his sheer discomfort.
The problem is, I for some reason equate being firm and assertive with being rigid and mean. I can talk myself into making a difficult phone call to a company, but then the customer service reps are nice and apologetic, and it suddenly feels as though I’m personally offending them by complaining about their product or service. I’m used to being kind and helpful, and standing up for myself doesn’t feel kind or helpful.
Did you hear that? I think Freud just rolled over in his grave.
Today, I was genuinely fed up with Directv, and I was determined to not be a Chandler. (Only with me, the problem is not a flabby gut, but a flabby resolve.) In order to push past that overwhelming urge to be nice, I had to purposely keep myself in a frustrated and impatient state, or else I’d give in.
And just like in that episode of Friends, they pulled out all the stops.
The following is a summary of a conversation with Directv that may or may not have happened:
Employee: “I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve experienced these inconveniences. Instead of cancelling, would you be interested in six months of free HBO?”
Me: “Erm…um. No.”
Employee: “Okay. How about $20 off your bill for six months, AND you still get the free HBO?”
Me: “Nah, home slice.”
Employee: “I can see that you’re quite serious about this. I’m now prepared to offer you one of my kidneys, as well as the promise that I will name my firstborn child after you.”
Me: pauses to consider… “No, that’s okay.”
Employee: “The kidney and firstborn child are of course in addition to the HBO and reduced bill.”
Me: “I still just want to cancel.”
Employee: “Of course, ma’am. But before I transfer you to that department, you do need to understand that if you cancel, we will be forced to rain down a plague of cockroaches on your home.”
Me: shudders. “I’ll just… stay inside forever, then. That’s fine. But I still don’t want Directv anymore.”
I did it. I stuck with it until the rep was done offering a variety of bribes and vague threats. While my memory of that interaction might be slightly exaggerated, I’m still childishly proud of myself for sticking to the plan to cancel services.
Again, feel free to send gifts. I like chocolate, cheese, wine, and the color purple.
Does anyone else have trouble being assertive about certain things? What do you do to maintain your resolve? How do you balance politeness with firmness?