I seem to be having trouble getting through to people these days. Last week, an e-mail landed in my inbox that took me by surprise. I had a lot of questions about it, and when I replied to the sender about my concerns, she said she would get back to me next week with an answer. Well, that was this week, and when she wrote back she didn’t answer any of my questions. She just reiterated the part of her e-mail that I had questions about, which really wasn’t helpful. What’s worse is that I totally saw it coming, her not really answering my questions. As awful as this sounds, I don’t think she knew how to answer my questions because I have a sneaking suspicion that she didn’t actually write the e-mail she sent out. She’s a self-proclaimed “terrible writer,” and not in the way most people use that phrase to mean they don’t know how to use commas (because that’s what makes someone a good writer, no?). She seriously can’t write an e-mail (and probably many other things) to save her life. So I think perhaps one of her business partners or attorneys put the e-mail together and she sent it out under the guise of it being original to her. I have no problem with that, except it means she didn’t really understand what she sent to people.
So now I have this response from her that’s making me scratch my head just as much as her first e-mail, which she seems to think was pretty straightforward yet she can’t offer me an interpretation of it that goes beyond the original wording. So now I look the one who has a really thick skull and can’t grasp a so-called simple concept.
What baffles me is that no one else who received this same e-mail had any questions about it. It’s rare that I get a lengthy e-mail discussing a change in business plans and don’t have a question about it. To me, that’s a normal thing to do. If I don’t understand something, I ask a question. These people who give me these non-answers to my questions make me feel like I’m being difficult, though. Like my question is the problem.
It reminds me of an infamous RMV experience I had when I needed to change my name on my license. After I got married, I filled out the paper work to change my last name, and all my credit cards changed, too, so I needed to get a new driver’s license. I got to the RMV before they opened, waited in line, and had a completely pleasant and easy time getting my new license. I tucked it in my wallet and headed off to work feeling relieved to have gotten that over with. Everything was fine until a few hours later when I took another look at my license and realized the person working there didn’t have me resign my name. The name printed on my license didn’t match my signature, which was still my maiden name. Crap! I went back down to the RMV, and this is what ensued:
Me, to the woman behind the counter: Hi, I was just in a few hours ago to change my name on my license, but the person who helped me didn’t have me re-sign my name to update my signature. Can I do that now?
RMV Woman: You should have come back within 90 minutes to make the change. *Blank stare*
Me: Excuse me? I didn’t notice the mistake right away, and no one said anything to me about having to be back here within 90 minutes. Can you make the change?
RMV Woman: You should have come back within 90 minutes. I can make the change in our system, but you need to come back on a different day.
Me: Why do I need to come back on a different day if you can make the change in your system?
RMV Woman: Because you should have come back within 90 minutes.
Me: Are you saying I can redo the signature, but that I have to pick up the license on a different day? I don’t understand how this works.
RMV Woman: I can make the change in the system, but you still need to come back. *Blank stare*
Me: Can I talk to your supervisor, please?
RMV Woman: Sure. *Blank stare*
Me: Uhm, are you going to call him over here?
RMV Woman: No, he’s on the other side of the room behind the desk.
Me: Can you show me where he is? I don’t know who you’re talking about.
RMV Woman: No, because that would mean I’d have to get up and walk all the way over there.
Me: *Jaw drops open*
I swear to God that really happened. What that woman had NO CLUE how to communicate was that license transactions have a 90 minute hold on them, so in case a mistake is made, you can correct it as long as you do it within 90 minutes before the transaction is processed. Once it’s processed, you have to wait to receive your license in the mail with whatever mistake it has on it, and THEN you have go back down to the RMV to change it. So that’s what I had to do, which I learned by finding that woman’s supervisor. The process wasn’t any easier when I returned a week later; I had to deal with a different RMV employee whose personality fit that of a crossing guard who couldn’t cut it as a security guard who couldn’t cut it as a cop and was now reduced to working in the closest thing resembling hell on earth so he was going to make sure everyone else there was as miserable as he was.
It drives me nuts when people can’t communicate effectively. Is it really that hard?