Courtesy is Accessible to Us All

Last week we talked about opportunities lost.

I shared several stories of clients who told me of their decisions to discontinue doing business with certain people or companies simply because their calls were not returned.

One could argue that they were somewhat extreme in their responses, yet none can deny them their right to those decisions.

One could further argue that lack of professionalism may, quite rightly, bring about the consequence of lost business but what about lack of consideration?

I received two calls this week from two readers of my blog (I didn’t know I had that many) who told me that they too had ceased doing business with people for one simple reason: they had parked their vehicles in clearly marked handicapped parking stalls.

In both cases the callers were astonished by the seeming indifference of these folks when it was pointed out to them that they should have parked elsewhere. It just did not seem like a big deal to them.

I can relate to these two callers as I live in a condo building that has five parking stalls in the driveway, one of which is not only clearly designated as an accessible parking stall, but also has a large sign warning of a $300 fine for parking there.

Despite the warning of an expensive fine and the clearly marked “accessible parking only” logo, not a day passes without our staff having to ask people to move their vehicles and, quite often being rewarded by being sworn at.

It seems that if you are “only going to be one minute” then parking in such a stall is completely permissible.

On far too many occasions I have witnessed a car enter our driveway, head towards the accessible parking stall, realize another vehicle is parked in that stall, drive off our property and a few minutes later the driver returns to our property in a wheelchair, or a walker, with the aid of crutches, all made necessary because of some inconsiderate soul who was probably “only going to be there for one minute.”

One of the callers even told me of a prospective employee parking in an accessible stall on his way to a job interview with her company.

He didn’t tell me the outcome of the interview, but I think I could guess.

While the consequences of not returning phone calls and parking in handicapped stalls are, according to the stories relayed to me by my clients, much the same, the reasons behind the behavior are probably quite different.

Not returning phone calls and not changing the greeting on voicemail when you are away can be attributed to either a lack of common sense or total absence of professionalism, whereas parking in an accessible stall simply reveals to the world the true character of the person responsible.

Several years ago, a visitor to our building who possessed a legitimate handicap decal was so angered to see a car parked in the accessible stall that she parked her car behind it while visiting her friend.

A short time later the offender walked out of the building to find his vehicle blocked in.  He stormed over to the concierge desk to demand the driver of that vehicle be ordered to move the car immediately.

Our concierge, who knew precisely who the car belonged to, feigned ignorance leaving the person to wait more than three hours before he was able to move his car. He did inform us that he had called the police, and perhaps he did, but they didn’t arrive, and we applauded their non-arrival.

As mentioned last week, when we choose a behavior, we choose its consequence.  Not only did I feel no pity for this man forced to wait several hours, I felt a slight sense that justice was being served.

It is difficult and challenging to build a successful career or business and it seems a shame to potentially sabotage years of effort by not paying attention to the small things, which when kept unchecked, always become bigger, more problematic and insidious.

A huge price to pay for something so easily preventable.

Till we read again.

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