The Business of Manners.
A Story of a Near-Accident, a Bitter Barbie, and Me; Inadvertent Dog Rescuer.
Last week I came over a rise in my street and nearly hit a dog. I swerved to miss him, pulled over, and leapt out of the car. Pure adrenaline helped me bulldoze him to safety, just as a truck thundered past.
My heart was pumping. I was madly trying to forget the last time I'd saved a dog.
(Didn't end well. Nighttime, darkness, swimming pool, me jumping on top of a dog thinking it was a drowning child. Horrified dog chomping down on me, nearly hitting my radial artery. Me in hospital).
Luckily, it was obvious this dog wasn't going to bite me. His tail was wagging. He was old and harmless. He sniffed and sat down. I patted him. It was all going fine. Except, our street is long and busy. There was no owner in sight. I couldn't possibly leave him there. I tried to drag him to the closest house to see if someone recognised him, but I couldn't budge him.
Phone numbers for his owners and the dog's name (Bailey) were on his tag. I called the first one. No answer. I left a message. I tried the other number.
Someone called Wendy answered. I explained the scenario. To my surprise, instead of a warm, grateful greeting, I was hit by a wave of anger directed towards her husband (supposedly walking Bailey). Apparently, he'd been a dropkick for years in every imaginable way. I tried to interrupt, but she was on a roll. I couldn't help feeling sorry for the guy, being married to her. But then again, who knew? Maybe they were as bad as each other.
Anyway, who cared? We were going nowhere fast. I tried again to interrupt Wendy, but I couldn't get a word in. I wondered what she looked like. Interestingly, a platinum blonde in tight clothes aged fifty-plus was coming to mind. I told myself off for stereotyping, but deep down, I was betting I was right...
Was I tempted to tell the rude goat to stick her sorry problems where the sun don't shine? Yes, readers, I'm not going to lie, I was.
And perhaps I would have.
However, Bailey chose that moment to decide it was time to leave. He stood up. I held tight to his collar, but he was powerful, and he was pulling towards the danger zone.
"Can you please come and get him?" I managed to wheeze. "I can't hold him!"
"Oh, FFS!" Wendy said, "He's ancient. He'll be fine. Just leave him there. My stupid husband will come and get him."
I planted my feet on the ground and dug in. Bailey was tugging harder, and I was sweating. He was set on returning to the middle of the road with me in tow. I was losing the battle. He was hauling me slowly but surely towards the road.
I am not usually a yeller, but I got my stern on and roared.
"Listen! I'm NOT leaving him here, he could be killed or cause an accident, and I have to get to work. YOU need to come right now!!
Surprised, Bailey stopped pulling and put his head to one side. Wendy finally stopped ranting.
'FFS!" she said again - and ended the call without another word.
I updated Bailey on developments. After all, I'm a mother, a negotiator by definition. We agreed on a compromise.
As long as I scratched him on his belly, Bailey wouldn't try to drag me into the street. He was stubborn, but deep down, he was a sweetheart. We bonded. (Just as well, as it turned out). It was at least another half an hour before Wendy finally showed up.
Even though I was really annoyed by then, I couldn't help an internal chuckle. She looked staggeringly like the Ageing Barbie I had envisaged, right down to the hair and tight jeans. She got out of her car with her mouth pursed like the wrong end of a cat.
"Wendy?" I enquired, as pleasantly as I could through clenched teeth.
She didn't even bother to reply, just glared at me and launched into another epic anti-husband speech. No 'sorry', no 'thanks', just more ranting.
'Stuff this,' I thought. 'I'm out of here.'
I felt a pang of remorse for Bailey and sent him a telepathic apology. I hope he understood.
I headed to my car, expecting Wendy to get a grip and thank me, but she still didn't say a thing.
'Wow!' I said venomously in my head. (Or, possibly, aloud). She flicked her long blonde tresses over her shoulder and ignored me.
I drove home, feeling relieved I'd been there for Bailey but angry at Fake Barbie's rudeness. I'd just saved her dog's life and given my time to help her, and she couldn't even manage a 'thanks'.
Ironically, I arrived home to find a lovely client testimonial in my inbox that I hadn't even asked for. It completely turned my day around.
The experience made me reflect on the power of the words 'thank you' and their importance in life, and business, in particular.
Obviously, I didn't save Bailey for the glory of it. Getting a dog off the road to safety was virtually instinctive; anyone would have done it. Wendy was just a rude, entitled woman and, tee hee, karma, etc.
Still, a little gratitude would have gone a really long way. The thanks I found in my inbox gave me a warm glow that I'm still feeling now.
Got any clients or colleagues who'd love to know you value them?
Just do it. Say thanks. Seriously. It's not that hard. Even when people aren't necessarily looking to be thanked, it's lovely to feel appreciated. And when thanks are due - give them.
It's called manners.