Since I am in fact talking about our argument over whether “we are a customer” in our adoption and thus should get adequate customer service responses from the social workers we deal with, I want to make sure I’m being fair to Lee’s side of the argument since I’m not particularly sympathetic to it.
First off, Lee isn’t really a metaphor girl. She doesn’t read fiction because she thinks it’s sort of silly to read about a “fake” world. As a child, she never liked cartoons for the same reason. There’s a certain literalism about her view of life that I’m sort of surprised I don’t find annoying, metaphor nut that I am.
Also, although Lee is a professor and I work in the land o’ business, people who know us tend to think of us as belonging in the opposite buckets. Lee spent a long time in the business world before moving into academia, and that’s clearly the lens through which she views her life. Sometimes this is a problem as things don’t translate very clearly or easily, but it’s how she works.
I think this is partly an attachment issue of hers, but once people let her down, she is OVER them (and that’s typically the phrase she’ll use). It doesn’t matter whether or not she told the person what she expected; if they don’t have the courtesy to do XYZ, then she wants nothing to do with them. (Currently all my brothers are in this category because they didn’t respond to my facebook message to them about our match with Colton. She’s boycotting them until they somehow make up for it, though each of them has expressed interest and support in his own way and all three and previously wished us luck. They just don’t do it the same way she does, and she’s not okay with that.)
So where I’m going with all of this is that our local social worker (who still doesn’t have a name, poor thing, so how about Brianne?) had said she wouldn’t be able to be on the call with Colton’s team to talk about the match. We told her we’d be fine without her, that we felt comfortable that we could advocate for ourselves. Then the call was rescheduled and we didn’t hear anything from Brianne. Apparently Lee assumed that meant she’d be on the call; I assumed she wouldn’t but didn’t care either way.
That was a Friday and early in the next week I emailed Brianne to let her know what had gone on during the call. She responded that she was glad to have the update but had been out of the office and unable to dial in. According to Lee, she had a slightly different story that she told our Adopt America Network worker about why she wasn’t there. I personally think they’re saying the same thing but in different words, but Lee felt she was making things up to avoid her responsibilities toward us or something like that. So later in that week, Lee had me send her another email about some things we needed clarified and then when we hadn’t heard back a few hours later, Lee left her a voicemail.
That’s where things get messy, as I thought Lee’s voicemail was probably as hostile as Lee herself had been about things lately. She’d said to me many, many times, “What the hell? I just don’t get it! We’re the customer and she’s supposed to be serving us, so why doesn’t she respond to messages? Why wasn’t she on the call with us if she’s supposed to be advocating for us??” But apparently that’s not what Lee said to Brianne, so while I thought Brianne’s next email to us was apologetic and possibly hurt, I was probably reading too much into that.
Anyway, Lee thinks we’re “the customer” not because she’d extend the metaphor into saying that the child is a commodity. She thinks the children in the system are the ultimate “customers” but that we as prospective parents are “customers” too and our social workers have a responsibility to serve us. I said that if we’re going to stick with a customer metaphor, we’re more like tools that the social workers can use to serve the “customer”/child appropriately. Both Lee and our counselor seemed to think this made no sense, but I was too angry to go much farther with that.
Anyway, this is the background or some of the background of what’s going on in the conversation. If I read a blog where someone was saying that the customer is always right and why wouldn’t her social worker call her back, I’d be really angry. And I was equally angry when Lee said that, but I realized that maybe I’m not being fair to her. She’s just not using a sophisticated enough vocabulary to describe her frustration, instead falling back on jargon that’s familiar to her. (Probably that’s true of the bloggers who say these kinds of things, but I do think that if Lee were engaging people as a blogger and were the kind of person who wanted to blog in the first place, she’d be more mindful of what she was saying and why.) So while I thought what she was saying was wrong and wrong-headed and that going after social workers is not going to be an effective way to work the system, it turned out that I was slightly misjudging her since I hadn’t known what she actually said to Brianne.
And since I’m telling this story in disjointed parts, I might as well say that the resolution is that we spent that weekend really annoyed with each other, but when Brianne came over for our quarterly meeting that Wednesday, Lee was very polite to her and explained about how she’s a person who gets frustrated easily and quickly and how she hoped she hadn’t offended Brianne by calling. Brianne encouraged her to do what she felt she needed to do and said she hadn’t been bothered and that she’d know in the future that Lee prefers phone messages. They talked about when and how much Brianne uses her phone, and I think now Lee feels the issue is resolved and things are fine.