Back when I was in my tadpole years (age 29-34), and I was breaking my psyche down into the little component bits, attempting to rearrange them, trying out new formations and configurations, etc., I was forced to confront the age-old psychological & philosophical question of nature vs. nurture. How much of “who I was” was a result of genetic coding and how much of it was the environment in which I was raised?
Yet for me, there was a third variable. How much could awareness of who I was (regardless of nature or nurture) allow me to overcome the “programming” inside and create different outcomes? In short, how much would awareness give me choice?
Today was a good test of that conundrum.
By nature, I’m smart, but an analytical introvert (AI). And as an AI, I distrust others by instinct, don’t like relying on others for things, and generally would rather do without something than ask for it from someone else who could just as easily say no as yes.
By nurture, I’m a pessimist, routinely suspicious of others and the fickle finger of fate. One of my brothers is like that — he feels like everyone is out to get him, government and business will always screw the little guy, and at the smallest sign of failure, he assumes the sky is going to fall. I don’t have it quite as bad, but I do sense it from time to time clouding my approaches to certain things.
By choice, I try to choose optimism for outcomes, I try to rely on others even if my instincts tell me not to do so, and I ask even when I could easily presuppose a “no”. Each day is a daily struggle to choose to fight my instincts, some days are more successful than others.
So here’s the scenario…we bought all our kitchen pieces for our renovation back in August / September. There were a couple of reconfigs in there, so some changes to design and approach, and some more pieces in October. When all was said and done, we had some shelves, cupboard doors, and some drawer fronts left over. In short, a bunch of unopened and opened packages, maybe 20 in all. Andrea and I finished the reorganization in early January, and we still had about 15 packages left over, of which 12 were unopened.
Now here’s the rub with Ikea — their general return policy is 90 days. After that, it’s a bit discretionary, but you need the receipt regardless. I talked to the kitchen people, they said it would be at the discretion of the Returning officer, but “worth a shot”. My nature worked against me for a bit, partly because I could go ask at the desk, or I could take everything with me and ask, or I could just presuppose a negative outcome and do nothing. Paralysis by analysis.
Two weeks of leave in February put me back in control of my life, and so I was more motivated to do something about it, and my wife gave me a small kick in the pants today too. So, while Jacob and Andrea went tobogganing, I took the 12 unopened packages over to Ikea. A choice that goes against both nature and nurture.
Now I know lots of things about negotiating techniques, how to do it from strength, how to do it from weakness, how to impose my will through aggression, etc. Most of them are distasteful, manipulative. And if I’m going to “choose” to be someone I’m not, that isn’t the guy. So I decided I would leave the stuff in the car, go up, be completely transparent, tell them I expected a “no” but wanted to ask anyway, no pressure, just a conversation. They said yes, sure, bring it on up. Small hesitation, not much. Now Ikea is known for better-than-average return policies, but still, this is six months later. Would have to be store credit, which is fine with me (we have a small list of three shelving units we or rather I want anyway).
Back downstairs, loaded up, upstairs, different woman, a little grumpy, and so she wants the receipts and some ID, and onward. I said I wasn’t sure what it would show up as on the receipts as the name on the box didn’t seem to match the receipt names, but maybe I was looking in the wrong place. No worries, she scanned the receipts, and then scanned each of the 12 items. None of the items matched my receipts i.e. I’d brought all the receipts I had set aside, but apparently missed some in my paper tracking. Crap. One rule they have is you need the receipts. So I figure I’m going back home, blah blah blah, my nurture side telling me the likely outcome.
Nope, she waived it, gave me a store credit for all of it, signed a receipt, all done. No muss, no fuss, and $500 back in my pocket. Because I fought against nature and nurture. Now, of course the success this time won’t make any difference next time, I’ll still have to fight. But it’s nice to see the choice side win so clearly once in awhile.
Thanks Ikea, Andrea, and the fickle finger of fate that pointed good luck in my direction today.