A few days ago my central heating broke down. I don’t have my own central heating boiler, but I am connected to district heating. So I called the energy company – late in the evening – and got a very friendly lady at the phone, who took the time to find out, together with me, what was wrong. She gave me some instruction about what to do, while she was hanging on, but because that was not working she had to conclude that it probably was not a problem in the system itself, but that the thermostat broke down. Unfortunately that was my own device, so I called – it was in the mean time late at night – an installation company and got a very friendly gentleman at the phone, who took elaborately the time to find out what was wrong, gave me some advice, but then said I had to call back in the morning to make an appointment. When I did that in the morning, the installation company advised still to call the energy company a second time, to avoid unnecessary costs. That company employee again was very friendly, the mechanic came immediately, replaced a part – just to be sure, he said – and concluded that indeed the thermostat was down. So I called the installation firm once more. However, they were completely fully booked for the day, and could only come next day in the morning. So I called another firm, who could send a mechanic immediately. He replaced the thermostat and that was that.
A few weeks before this the ball-cock of my toilet broke down. A very kind mechanic could come immediately and replaced it. A few months before that my modem broke down. I called the internetprovider and a kind and patient man took the time to find out wat was wrong, and discovered the problem by distance measurement. I could get a new modem (for free) immediately from a nearby shop, or they could send it to me. I chose the latter, and while the conversation was still going on the thing was already sent off. He gave me clear instructions about how to install the new modem, which I did the next day and everything was working fine
You now probably wonder why I bother you with all these details about my petty little discomforts, annoying as they may be. That is because I want to share with you that I was struck by the kindness and friendliness of all the people involved. They all were patient with a a non-technical old fellow like me, took elaborately the time, only charged when equipment in fact had to be replaced. The energy company and the internet provider charged nothing at all.
When in a society in which racism, violence, stupid politicians and false political and religious prophets dominate the news; in which “humanity is losing its humanity little by little; bomb-by-bomb, bullet-by-bullet, political policy-by-policy” (to quote Carolyn Myss) , these forms of friendliness, kindness, patience and service are still the practice, I think there is still hope. “somewhere in our wicked, miserable past there must have been a moment of truth . . . we must have done something good” (loosely quoted from The Sound of Music).