After I sent my positive customer service letter (see my posting “Kindness of Strangers” on September 28), I expected the call from the local branch of the Wells Fargo Bank The call came yesterday. “It is so gratifying to receive such a letter. Thank you for taking the time to write it,” the bank manager said, her voice choked with emotion. She continued: “I will make sure that the employee is recognized, and your letter will be included in her personnel file.”
It happened every time that I sent such a letter to the car rental agency, bank, airline, doctor, teacher or whoever provided good customer service. So accustomed to receiving letters of complaint, many said that this was the first letter of appreciation that they had ever received – in their entire careers.
I also reaped many benefits from sending such a letter. In addition to receiving ongoing good customer service, this particular exchange gave me the opportunity to inform and educate people about having Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
This is a new mission for me – that of informing and educating about PD. I am motivated by the quote of Johann Friedrich Von Schiller: “It is wise to disclose what cannot be concealed.” Since most of the time I can no longer conceal having PD, it is wise to disclose it.
For the seven years during the honeymoon stage of PD when the meds were working most of the time, denial was my motto. When I often passed as healthy, or so I thought, my magical thinking went like this: If I didn’t talk and think about PD, then I didn’t really have it. So I pretended.
The problem with denial was that it required secrecy, which led to deception. I told some people and not others about my PD secret. I didn’t want to be pitied, judged or people to lower their expectations of me. I didn’t want people to scrutinize me and look for my worsening PD symptoms.
However, when I overheard rumors that I had multiple sclerosis, it was time to come clean. It was time to be honest.
When PD was no longer a taboo subject for me, reveal instead of conceal became my new philosophy. And what a relief it has been for me to live a life of openness without secrets.