Stories from my Past: Good intentions aren’t enough

Since I work in customer service in technology I often enjoy reading and hearing about other people’s customer service experiences. I asked one Subway worker if she ever had a customer she found difficult to deal with and she related this story.

While I was making his sub he was judging me and saying things like “What did you do to end up here? Is your mother ashamed of you?” and telling me what to do with my life. I couldn’t take it and threw his sub away and told my other worker not to help him. As I was listening to her we had spoken on many occasions and she had shared with me that she was in school and working to improve her life. She was a minority and short, so it would be easy to understand why someone might feel this job wasn’t a good fit for her. She had shared with me in the past that this job was a stepping stone to greater things she was working on, and her life was on a positive slope.

The reason I am sharing this is that too often we might do something we think is helping, (like this guy clearly thought he was doing), but it has the opposite effect. I have said before that good intentions aren’t enough. I have learned in my own mistakes that if you listen and ask someone how you can help them, it makes all the difference than just deciding for them and trying to fit them into your values. Here is another example.

I had a relative once who was older and smoked and didn’t take care of his health. I would go over to his house and clean and offer to help him thinking I was being helpful. It did not help him. It just enabled him to sit at his table chain-smoking and not doing things he needed to do. It was amazing that he could be happy in doing such a simple and boring action. He ultimately died of cancer and I often wondered if I was enabling his behavior by “helping” him. It may seem altruistic or saintly to help others but you have to critically think of things and ask yourself if doing things they should be doing for themselves is really helping them. I have realized that for me, I can only share my experiences but I cannot do the tasks in others lives they should be doing themselves. Certainty you can give someone a ride or do an occasional task, but ultimately everyone has to work to create the life that best suits them.

Don’t assume you understand the situation and what someone else needs. People would rather be asked how they could be helped than just to help. A side rule I’ve learned is that when someone is complaining about something, rather than jump in with suggestions I ask “Are you venting or asking for my help?” Then I don’t have to offend them and make them feel they can’t handle it, or I can just listen and let them vent. This works especially well in office situations.

Firefox is best for privacy

The article says that Firefox is the most secure. I have been using Firefox for the last several months since giving up on Google. I wrote it about here in my frustrations with Google.

Google seemed to be an incredible force until about 2010 in innovation and challenging Microsoft and Apple. I thought that it would overtake both of them, but I was wrong. I loved how they had a better grasp of the Internet, but they have a terrible understanding of the average user.

For example, I have worked with Android phones before but never had one myself. Every time I have used someone else’s android I was disappointed at the user interface and applications. Many technical people like Android, but that doesn’t say anything about the general population. Right now in Europe Android devices are losing popularity. People bought android devices due to financial concerns (the article I read said), and now they have more money they are buying an iPhone. People are only sensitive to price when they don’t have money, but when they do they switch to a better product which is clearly the iPhone.

I am not here to push the iPhone. I don’t believe in pushing products. I talk about the benefits, and then let people make their own choice. When people buy the competition like Europeans are buying the iPhone now, it must be because they believe that spending the extra money is justified. For me, I don’t try to assume what people are thinking, I just look at the bottom line which is their behavior. People buy what they think is worth it.

I think the value of Google in being free is decreasing. People have gotten many free services and things and that isn’t enough to keep their attention. In fact, having the product being perceived as worthless/free sets a low bar that they associate with your product. Everyone knows that the “free” phone they get with a yearly contract is garbage. They want something more premium and make them feel successful. I am convinced that the only way to beat the iPhone is something significantly better. Like a voice/thought activated chip that you could wear on your ear that would be the entire phone. You could play with a screen if you wanted as an optional choice. We have a screen for legacy reasons but it is not required. People would love to have a full voice interface on a phone. Why hasn’t this been done yet?

To get back to the point of privacy, it is impossible to believe that Google is maintaining privacy when their entire business is selling ads. When google gets out of the ad business it is done. Which means that its entire model is based on supporting selling user data. Apples business has never been that. Microsoft business has been selling user data, and most companies have been which is why I avoid them. I think the future is either open source, or companies like Apple that realize that people are becoming wiser about privacy and making decisions based on their right “to be forgotten”.