Hear Ye: Planning A Trip To Rome

There’s nothing worse than being ignored.

In a span of just two days, two unrelated incidents occurring in the same location brought this to mind.

On the first day, I had just finished paying for my merchandise at a department store with a store-issued credit card, which allowed me to receive substantial discounts on the items. I immediately chose to pay off that credit card balance at the checkout instead of having to deal with a bill later.

Usually, I pay the balance with a debit card, check or cash because, as far as I know, there are no other options. This time, however, the cashier asked if I wanted to pay off the balance with another credit card. Gee, that would be nice, but that would be double-dipping — being compensated twice for the same activity. If it were possible, everyone would be doing it — we’d get special discounts by using the merchant’s credit card and then turn around and get mileage points from the other card.

I’d be on my way to Rome by now for free.

The Pantheon, where we might find Concordia, the Roman goddess who embodies agreement in society | Jean-Pol Grandmont photo

The Pantheon, where we might find Concordia, the Roman goddess who embodies agreement in society | Jean-Pol Grandmont photo

But maybe things have changed. With this information-savvy world evolving at breakneck pace, and with me feeling like I’m becoming proportionally less knowledgeable because now there is more to know than ever before, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong. Or maybe I was misinterpreting her or jumping to conclusions about something.

So I questioned the cashier’s offer. Instead, she flatly repeated her stance, and without caring to entertain my charitable wisdom, she created a wall between us. I was in a rush, and perhaps I was not patient enough with her, either. In the end, I could’ve test-driven her offer, but not willing to cause further delay, I paid off the balance the usual way, with a debit card. The worst of it was not so much that I could no longer hold out hope for potential free miles, but that I felt like we were both not fully heard and addressed.

The next day, near the same cashier, an acquaintance and longtime Kauai business and community member called out my name. She had opinions, not related to my frivolous transaction, of course. No, there are bigger things in life to talk about, like a particular volatile local issue. What stood out most is when she concluded, “At least now we are being heard.”

I am not beholden to any opinion on the subject she was discussing, as I have heard strong and convincing positions from the other side. In fact, I still question whether both the opponents and advocates on this issue have been truly and fully heard.

At the risk of oversimplifying things, I’d say the overriding common sentiment of both the credit card customer and the opinion-clad acquaintance is that, minimally, we both felt previously ignored and didn’t like it.

In any matter large or small, all parties deserve to be listened to and given the opportunity to engage in factual, unemotional, non-sensational and intelligent conversations to achieve realistic, compassionate, respectful and mutually beneficial results.

When everyone’s addressed, it makes everything seem much better. And when that happens, you never know — there might be undiscovered ways for everyone to earn some extra points along the way.

See you in Rome.