Living in shades of grey

So, I made an eBay purchase the other week. I was so excited. It was exactly what I’d been looking for at a price that I could afford. I was devastated when I missed the postman/woman and had to wait until the next working day to collect the parcel from my local delivery office. Imagine, then, my disappointment when I finally collect my new pair of Birkenstock sandals, only to find that they weren’t ‘as new’, as the description had suggested. The leather straps were worn in ways that just didn’t show up in the pictures, and the sandals had clearly been worn for a fairly muddy outing – a music festival maybe? In which case, perhaps by ‘worn only once’ the seller actually meant ‘worn for only one 4 day long music festival where I camped in a field and endured some pretty harsh conditions’. Anyway, I emailed the seller straight away to let her know how disappointed I was, but was very polite and offered for her to send me a partial refund (an amount we could agree between us), but that if she didn’t want to do that I would be returning the shoes under eBay’s money back guarantee for items that aren’t as described or different to the photos provided.

Where am I going with this, I here you ask? Well, the seller was quite annoyed with my message, and said that they absolutely were worn only once etc. You get the picture. We didn’t agree on the situation, and despite me being as nice as I could manage (whilst still getting my point across) the seller was rude and called me a ‘time waster’. She said she would dispute my return request, to which I said ‘that’s fine, I’ll request the return, you decline it and at that point I can get eBay involved to resolve the dispute for us’. I was happy with that. I didn’t mind eBay having to step in. I was confident from the photos I’d uploaded that eBay would agree the shoes were clearly not ‘as new’, but even if they didn’t, it’s not the end of the world. At least I’m not completely broke and that was my last £20 to my name. At least I’d end up with a pair of shoes that I could wear, even if they weren’t as nice as I was expecting etc. etc. I was basically being one of those annoying sunny side up people who sees only the blessings (gross, right?!).

‘Oh just send them back, I can’t be doing with time wasters’, was the response to my last message. I was soooooo tempted to reply and say something like ‘thank you for your excellent customer service skills, I will make sure to recommend your eBay shop to my friends’ or ‘maybe you should get some new glasses before re-listing the shoes on eBay’. But I didn’t. I took my husband’s advice and just left it alone. I said I didn’t want to leave her a rubbish review, and I have stuck to that because I don’t agree with posting angry reviews in the heat of the moment. I took the moral high ground, basically, which gave me no immediate sense of satisfaction, but in the long run has left me feeling quite pleased with myself.

‘We still don’t know why you’re telling us about the shoes you bought on eBay’, I hear you cry! Well, I guess the whole thing just got me thinking. It seems fairly clear-cut at first, that I’m the good guy and she’s the nasty piece of work eBay seller with a bad attitude and zero people skills. But I’m becoming increasingly aware of my tendency to think about myself and the world in black and white, rather than in shades of grey. In black and white thinking, one person is clearly ‘wrong’ and the other ‘right’, but in shades of grey, we are two human beings coming at the same situation from different angles and with different life experiences. Maybe I could have viewed the photos on a bigger screen and scrutinised them more closely, rather than trusting the description she had provided. Maybe she has had a miserable year and is feeling angry with the world in general. And there definitely isn’t anything wrong with feeling angry – although perhaps taking it out on your eBay customers isn’t the best outlet.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? I am not 100% a nice person or 100% right, but neither is she 100% nasty or 100% wrong. The truth always lies somewhere in between, and it always feels like such a breath of fresh air to acknowledge this and not force people or situations into boxes labelled ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

So yes, grey may be a bit of a dismal and depressing colour, but actually there is a lot of joy to be found in it. It’s the road to less stress and tension, and greater acceptance of life and the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis. It means that we can see each other as fellow humans, rather than friend or enemy. We don’t need to make these distinctions, even if there are people we’d rather not buy from on eBay ever again. From their own point of view, everyone is right, and we can never know what it’s like to be another person until we’ve walked in their shoes. So give yourself a break, and give them a break whilst you’re at it.

I hope you’re all doing well out there in the world, whoever you are. But remember, if things aren’t so good right now, that’s OK too. There are no prizes for the human being with the least amount of baggage or issues to sift through. We’re all doing just fine 🙂

Peace out x

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