Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Yesterday I had a problem, and, as so often happens, something wonderful came out of it. The experience brought to mind again the idea of “compensation” – the notion that every occurrence is counter-balanced by another one. Think of a laboratory scale, the kind with two pans: when one pan is weighted with something, the goal is to make the other pan be a counter-balancing force. When the two pans are perfectly balanceded , the scale can then be accurately read. Yesterday, my computer was not working properly; you might say one pan on the scale was severely weighted down with inefficiency and frustration. I was upset about the situation and called the Dell support line, fully expecting to get even more aggravated. However, what I got was a kindhearted young man filled with expertise and patience, who uncomplainingly led me through a maze of steps until finally, after almost two hours, the computer was magically repaired and working beautifully. In the process, the technician and I had wonderful side-conversations about teaching, computers, and families. I not only gained a smoothly functioning computer, but, in a way, a new friend as well. When it was over and I was happily enjoying my computer, I realized that I felt glad the problem had arisen. After all, it had obviously been a marvelous experience for the young man from the Dell support team. He probably hung up from our lengthy conversation and gave a shout of elation, for he had successfully solved a customer’s problem. He had proven himself worthy of his job. He knew, then, that he was truly a master at helping frustrated computer users like me – and it was my computer problem that enabled him to prove that to himself. I smiled. As always eventually happens, the pans in the scale had once again come to a perfect balance. The law of compensation had made its universal power felt once again.

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