Tuesday, April 7 2020 - 11:41 PM
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Five Stars

I filled out an on-line survey about my recent car oil change at the agency. I gave them 3 out of 5 stars since customer service had some issues. On the day of service I had expected to be greeted by my representative within a few minutes of time—instead of standing in front of his desk while he was tied up on a phone call for more than 10 minutes. And I was expecting to get my regular car maintenance list completed within two hours when I had to leave, yet not all of that happened. I wasn’t expecting an immediate phone call from the service representative after the survey. He claimed his pay and reputation are directly tied to the satisfaction numbers. We had a lengthy conversation about what could have been improved but mostly he just wanted me to re-submit a survey with a “5.”

I am growing increasingly tired of satisfaction surveys. I don’t think they really want to hear my observations.

I’ll admit it, I have expectations for service, food, housing, products, drivers, church membership, citizenship, and being a neighbor, marriage partner, sister, mother, child, teacher, professional, and lots more. I have fine tuned those expectations through education, experiences and time. I also like to find ways for things to be improved or fixed.

I wasn’t born yesterday and I’ve learned a few things.

My first career was in editing and journalism with a pinch of public relations. That career focus can create a needed “judgmental” eye for standards. (I once had an optometrist suggest I wasn’t seeing clearly because of my perfectionistic editing profession!). Of course becoming a mother blew a lot of naive expectations out of the window. Several experiences in education changed my expectations for students and administrators. Working for church entities altered many expectations. One of my extra short-term careers was in travel and tourism along with a culinary program. Then I added hotels, rental cars, air and ship travel along with restaurant food to my expectations. And I spent years in mental health counseling, yet I was not entranced with the expectations of the diagnostic criteria manuals.

My brother and I sometimes watch movies and make a challenge of finding mistakes in set objects, clothing, or time lines. Perhaps critiquing is genetic? So I can be a rather difficult person with whom to watch a movie, or as a travel partner, as my husband can attest. I have a check list of “shoulds” when I enter hotel and motel rooms, or when ordering a meal. And due to my advancing age, I have stayed in a variety of housing and restaurants in many states plus a few countries. More recently I have enjoyed the hobby of reviewing hotels and restaurants.

I believe that most of what I expect is based upon common sense, respect, cleanliness and law. “It” doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be clean and comfortable; it doesn’t have to be haute cuisine but it should be sanitary, properly prepared, warm or cold, and include the menu items. Much of the time, a simple apology for not meeting expectations would go a long way so I am willing to return or try again.

One of my reading books is about the world restored when God fulfills his promises for the resurrection and the New Earth. So I started thinking about my expectations and how so many things fall short of best, perfect, delicious, or fair. Those superlatives may actually belong to a different kingdom—one that God put into our hearts but will not fully be realized until he restores this planet. Most of us get just enough of them to remember to thank God for earthly delights but they will not be perfect lest we grow totally satisfied with this life and the earth as we know it. No doubt striving for better is within our godly DNA. Yet reality calls for grace, forgiveness and adjustments to live in the now, abiding with the tension of unmet expectations while clinging to the hope of God’s total redemption.

A loved one has been known to say, “lower your expectations.” I realize that humans are complex and complicated creatures who often operate on serving themselves first, expecting me to get out of the way, or for me to meet their needs. Sometimes lowering expectations seems like giving in to this world. Perhaps many expectations are just misplaced and I need to focus on who and what really is a perfect “5” for satisfaction.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

  1. How can “lowering your expectations” help or hinder you?
  2. What do you think people expect from Christians?
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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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