System Failure

A few weeks ago, whilst I was waiting to collect a SatNav that I had ordered from Argos, a glitch in their system caused heavy delays in getting products to waiting customers at dispatch.

The man who was handling the growing problem was suddenly unable to cope with the multitude of people waiting as the orders on the system continued to mount up.

Initially, I was quite calm, but I suddenly realised that the system failure and the growing feeling of agitation and vocal complaints from some caused me to feel momentarily incredibly anxious.

I was concerned for the poor sales assistant who could not establish a methodical process for coping by thinking “one item – one customer at a time”, but was rather like a headless chicken wandering up and down totally ineffectually.

I called my wife and said to her that I could see myself standing here for an hour, but after ending the call, I again became momentarily concerned for my safety as the level of agitation and frustration began to rise in some of those around me and then there was the sheer volume of people.

In that moment, I connected to my inner voice which asked me to be calm and I walked to the back of the store near the exit and I was calm, accepting that I would wait patiently for my number to be called and I felt utterly relaxed and unphased in the chaos.

Eventually general calm was restored by a couple of competent staff who demonstrated their calmness and effectiveness in processing the ordered goods to customers.

I was served quite quickly and I was soon on my way and I reflected on my ability to feel calm along with many others at the inconvenience, when some people in the same situation could not.

This indicated to me a deepening capacity to not only cope with failures of systems, but also to cope with my perceived failures as a man, a husband and a father which previously had incapacitated me like the poor sales assistant who had struggled to cope.

Overcoming judgement of ourselves and accepting the past but not being defined by it has been my goal, and standing patiently in the queue whilst chaos ensued all around helped me to realise just how far I have come.

My next blog will be:       Echoes from a Vacated Space

William Defoe

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