Does assertiveness increase with age? Or do we finally just have more nerve to say and do what we think? Whatever the reason, I seem to be getting more brazen each year and feel no shame when I have said my piece or got my way honestly.
I refuse to eat lukewarm soup and can ask that it be heated without a smidgen of embarrassment.
I can tell the AT&T telemarketer that I dropped the service because I found a cheaper home phone deal and they are too late to win me back by lower rates. I don't change the spiel, but it does get louder when the third AT&T person calls the same day with the same sales pitch.
I don't hesitate to suggest to a young service person that it is only polite to say “please,” “thank you,” and “you are welcome,” phrases that seem to be dropped from today's business manners.
I asked the young cashier at the restaurant where I eat oatmeal at least three times a week why she never says “thank you.” She did not respond then, or since, but I still eat oatmeal there because it's good and not instant.
I must admit that the new assertive attitude sometimes surprises me as much as it does the person on the other side of the desk, or counter.
Surely, the nice young man at the car rental booth in Atlanta thought the sweet lady who pulled up at the exit in the rental vehicle would not be a bother. Her friendly smile matched the morning sunshine.
However, he was wrong. To begin with, there was not a soul at the car pool area. The shuttle driver simply instructed the passengers to pick out a car and have a nice day.
Using gym-trained muscles I lifted the luggage into the trunk and headed for the exit booth where I asked for directions to an airport hotel.
The young man had no idea and said I would have to go back into the terminal to get directions. My reply was something like, “But this is the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport and I am looking for Hartsfield Road. Surely you must know.”
I could have predicted his response: “I am not from here.”
Determination flared. I was not going to fight the terminal crowds again at the world's busiest airport, so I insisted that I be given directions right there. It was a long debate while other car renters lined up behind me, but I did get them and found Hartsfield Road, a half mile away.
For years I have accepted a room next to the elevator and have spent restless nights listening to the machinery move up and down and late-night party people get off on my floor.
When once again I was assigned to a top floor room that abutted the elevator, I asked for another location, which was granted graciously.
For the $90 weekend rate I was certain parking and breakfast were included, but the registration clerk said I was mistaken. I checked my notes with the confirmation number and returned to the registration desk. Sure enough, that number of reservation included a $9 parking fee and $25 for breakfast.
For travelers who are still foolish enough to collect frequent flier miles, knowing there usually is not an available seat on which to use them, here's a tip: Many hotels and motels are in bed with airline companies to give miles for stays, but you have to ask for them. I was on my way to the next adventure when I remembered I didn't get miles. I turned about and got them.
So why not stand up for our rights? We have earned them.
Mary Alice Powell is a former Blade food editor. E-mail her at email@example.com.
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