The case for lowered expectations

Andrew Atkins

So there I was, waiting for my food to be delivered, expecting it to show up in the next five minutes.

I waited another hour. And they still forgot my pop.

I sometimes think about people unleashing the fury of their day on unexpecting — and undeserving — customer service employees.

I used to work at an ice-cream shop. I made something with chocolate ice cream per a customer’s request. She said it didn’t look like chocolate ice cream.

I decided to argue with her — she was going to get the same product whether I remade it or not. We went back and forth a bit and just as I was about to give in and offer to remake the product, she gave up and drove away.

Or so I thought.

The woman came storming into the lobby of our shop and started screaming at me. I walked away, because, hey, I was making minimum wage and that was above my paygrade, and I wasn’t going to be able to make her happy. My supervisor took care of the situation, and I’m certain everybody in the lobby laughed at the woman who probably burst more than one blood vessel screaming over ice cream.

I realized after the fact that I made it with half-chocolate and half-vanilla ice cream. It had chocolate syrup mixed in, though, so it was basically all chocolate. And I definitely didn’t deserve the tirade because it was, like I said, just ice cream.

I’ve seen my experience replicated in a handful of other restaurants, but this applies to more than food and customer service.

It’s undeniable that too many of us get so wrapped up in these high expectations of what we want and think we deserve that we’re unable to enjoy the result whether they meet those lofty goals or not.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve emailed somebody because I once ordered a sandwich that came without the sandwich (just the bun), but I think I should’ve let it go.

We have so many things vying for our attention 24/7. I truly do not have the time or the energy to get worked up about every tiny detail. I’m sure you don’t, either.

Let’s take a deep breath, accept the frustration, and move on. If we lowered our expectations a little, we would spend way less time being disappointed and frustrated to begin with.

In the future, let’s pick our battles.

Andrew Atkins is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].