Oops, I did it again. I shared that nasty little part of myself with our apartment manager. The company we rent from (while our house is being built) has our credit card on file for rent charges each month.
Last month, in addition to rent, they charged $700 to our card: The pet deposit and 5 months of additional rent they hadn’t been charging us because we have a pet.
I don’t have a problem with paying for our dog. But I felt they should’ve notified me before charging such a large amount to my card.
I was mad.
They don’t know what else is happening in my life. That charge could’ve maxed out my card. (It didn’t; but it could have.) Honestly, I felt violated, taken advantage of (even though I owed the pet fees).
So, I called them.
The conversation went something like this:
“Why’d you charge additional fees to my credit card without notifying me first?”
The officer manager apologized for the mistake. “When we caught the error, we should’ve informed you before we charged the additional fees to your card,” she admitted.
She offered to reverse the charges and split them up over the remaining months on our lease instead of collecting it all at once.
I refused. Through clenched teeth: “Leave the charges on the card. But look, just because you have my card on file doesn’t give you the right to charge it for anything anytime you please.”
Then I told her not to charge my card again. Ever.
“I’ll pay my rent via check from this point on.” And, I hung up.
I clearly didn’t handle that one like a champ. I felt bad, but honestly, I didn’t think I’d ever speak to her again because we’re moving in April.
Well, this month, they charged our rent to our card again, after I asked them not to and sent them a check for this month’s rent.
After the way I’d behaved the first time, I wish I could say this time I did something super spiritual . . . like pray. Or take a few deep breaths. Something I could’ve patted myself on the back for later. But I can’t. I was livid.
I picked up my phone and called their office.
I wanted to scream. And would’ve had they answered the phone.
But they weren’t in, so I had to leave a message. And, I’m glad they weren’t in. The officer manager called me as soon as she got my message. She apologized for charging my card and offered to reverse the charges immediately.
After hearing the softness in her voice, I felt really bad for being a jerk the last time we’d talked (even though when I’d called earlier, I was fully prepared to be just as jerky again). I couldn’t rewind take back our first exchange.
But I could apologize. So I did.
I told her there was no excuse for my behavior the last time I’d talked to her. Then, I asked for her forgiveness.
She was surprised.
But she shouldn’t have been. When I’m wrong, I should say I’m sorry and ask forgiveness. Why is that surprising?
Too many times we don’t apologize when we’re wrong. We have a hard time apologizing to people we know and love. Let alone to a stranger.
Why do we have such a hard time apologizing? An apology is an admission of guilt. Aren’t we taught to be strong? Apologies are for weaklings. Losers.
And, asking for forgiveness? This makes us totally vulnerable. We’re at the mercy of the offended party. They can say “no.”
But the officer manager was gracious.
I’m ashamed to say I didn’t behave like a super Christian during the first incident. I’d really messed up, but that was no reason not to fix it.
I mess up a lot. Those of you who know me may be thinking, “Will the real Sheila Qualls please stand up?” The only thing I can attribute my goof-ups to is my humanness. Messing up is coded into my DNA.
We can’t change our DNA, but we can choose how we respond. Before you go nuclear, ask yourself:
- Is what I’m about to say consistent with who I want to be?
- Is what I’m about to say consistent with how I want others to see me?
- How would this comment make me feel if someone said it to me?
My goal this year is to live a purposeful life, with intention. If I answer no to any of the above questions, I’m not striving to reach my goal.
Living with intention means considering how every word I speak and every action I take will affect others. It means considering others and making amends when I offend.
Ultimately, it means keeping that nasty little part of myself in check by placing it under God’s control.
What do you do to make amends?
Part 1 of a 2 part series: Living Right