EATING CROW…AGAIN

One would think that by the age of 72 I would have learned how to avoid the unpleasant task of eating Crow… unfortunately that is not the case however, and a few days ago I had to do just that.

It was a simple mistake… anyone could have made it and most likely would have, had they been ripped off as many times as I have been. Living most of my life in the third world, I have learned not to trust anyone and to just assume that I am getting ripped off, regardless of what I am buying or who I am buying it from. Having this attitude is almost a necessity for living long term in a country like Cambodia… without it you could burn out real fast.

I had thought long and hard about buying a new computer and the decision to go with an expensive Apple, all in one, desktop was not an easy one to make. I came up with several reasons why I should not purchase it… but the frustration with virus software and updates plus the convenience of having everything in one computer that would hopefully last the rest of my lifetime, finally won out. It was late in the afternoon when I finally convinced myself that it was okay to buy it and so I flagged down a Tuk-tuk to take me to the swanky Apple Store in the new Canadian Bank Building.

The staff were very helpful and since there was no bargaining to be done, the purchase was made in only a matter of minutes. They brought the box out from the store room and set it down in front of me, than asked if I wanted them to check it all out. I glanced at the clock and because of the late hour told them that it would not be necessary. I carried my new Apple computer to the waiting Tuk-tuk and headed back to my hotel in the less exclusive part of town.

Upon returning to my room I opened the container and pulled out a thin white box, with a slide cover, from the styrofoam protection. I opened one side of it and saw the wireless keyboard, which I sat down on the desk while I removed the rest of the styrofoam and the beautiful, all in one, computer and screen… but where was the cordless mouse they assured me would be in the box?

I went through the container and the styrofoam again… and again, but there was not a box containing a mouse. ‘Screwed again’ I said to myself, as I looked at the time. If I waited until the morning there may be different staff who would not know me and so I decided to rush back to the store before closing time. ‘But what if they say it is not their problem.’  I thought to myself, as I returned to the Apple Store, during what was now rush hour traffic? I assured myself that they would not be like the small stores owners and would instead be very understanding and not question the error… but such was not the case.

I approached the salesman and explained the problem to him, but like all of the previous times, the first words out of his mouth were, “It is your problem, you should have ask us to open it before you left the store.” I could feel my face getting flushed as I tried to control my emotions but he was insistent that there was nothing he could or would do. I ask to see the manager and he said he was the one in charge. I asked how much a new mouse was and he said they were $109.00. With that I lost it and called him a crook. I was out of control and I knew it but I was just so tired of always getting ripped off. I left the store without buying a new mouse, red as a beet and very angry.

I was nearly in tears as I got back to the hotel but decided to look one more time through the container and styrofoam for the missing mouse… it wasn’t there. I picked up the thin white box containing the keypad and slid the cover all the way open this time and to my surprise and embarrassment, there, next to a small-thin keyboard, was the very thin white mouse.

Of course I was very relieved to find it… but now I had a bigger problem. What was I going to do about my mistake? Certainly there would be no reason to have to go back to the store to tell them I was wrong, after all, it was just as much their fault for not insisting on opening it… wasn’t it? ‘A good lesson for them.’ I rationalized.

I turned the computer on and tried to get excited about exploring its programs, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how foolish I had acted. I came up with several more good rationalizations as to why I did not have to go back to the store but always I came back to one of my sermonette’s to the children. “Don’t be afraid of admitting you are wrong, because the experience will help you to grow into a better person.” How would I ever be able to encourage them again to admit their mistakes, if I couldn’t do it myself?

Reluctantly, I returned to the store the following morning to tell them of my mistake. The salesman I had talked to was busy with a customer and so I talked to the lady behind the desk and gave her a $10.00 bill to buy some doughnuts for the staff. I apologized to the salesman as I walked past him and left the store… but he came running after me and handed the money back to me saying it was not necessary. I assured him that it was and apologized again. He smiled and asked me if I had found the mouse. I told him that I had and he seemed relieved as he thanked me for the cash.

I took a deep breathe as I got back into the Tuk-tuk and headed for the Wat Opot Community with my new computer. I was relieved to have it over with and although it was difficult, I was glad I had done it. I still feel stupid for acting like a crusty, cantankerous old man and hopefully will be a little more careful the next time it happens (and I have no doubt that it will), but at least for now I can look myself in the mirror again and say to the children, with a bit more conviction, “Don’t be afraid of admitting you are wrong, because the experience will help you to grow into a better person.”

Wayne Dale Matthysse

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