I have a confession: I’m s sucker when it comes to polite requests. Couch a request in polite language and intone it just right, I’ll be your slave for life! Recently, I have found this soft-spot for polite requests to be a liability.
My former boss called me up recently and asked (very politely) if I could look into a few things for him at the office (my former office). True to form, I complied even though I was no longer an employee. Hey! The man asked me nicely, OK?
So, off I went – like a good little slave-boy – to my former office to see what I could do. But lo and behold, when I got there, I found that the padlock had either been forced open or had been left unlocked. True enough, when I opened the door I found all the CPUs (including a 10K server) were missing.
I called-up the big-boss-man and told him what had happened. Once again, I was looking down the barrel of a politely worded request: could I possibly be kind enough to lodge a police report? So, I happily trundled off to the local police station to make the report (like a good little slave-boy).
What I found waiting for me at the cop-shop, however, was far from polite: I promptly became their prime suspect and was treated accordingly. I endured several excruciating minutes of very tough questioning and began regretting being a nice guy in the first place by going to the office (my former office) to solve a problem that was no longer even mine! But I was glad that at the end of the ordeal they didn’t throw me into the lock-up. I was free to go, albeit with a very bitter taste in my mouth.
While I was driving away, I received a call from the investigating officer. Guess what! I was looking down the barrel of a polite request yet again: could I possibly take a few photographs of the crime scene, have them developed and deliver them to him the next day?
Huh? Wasn’t the police supposed to do that?
But since he put the request to me in the politest way possible, the bitter taste in my mouth immediately disappeared and I found myself quite eager to do his bidding – even if it killed me. What can I say? The man was super-polite to me (unlike the way he was a few minutes earlier).
So, like a good little slave boy, I borrowed a camera (I personally don’t own one), took same photos of the crime scene (and felt like Lt. Mac Taylor in the process), had them developed (at my own expense) and delivered the lot to he investigating officer (like a good Golden Retriever). The upside is (I hope) the investigating officer doesn’t think of me as the prime suspect anymore.
The downside? I felt as if I had been violated in some way.
I must do something about this weakness for a polite request. Maybe the next time anybody puts a polite request to me, I’ll just punch him (or even her) in the face.