My chest tightened. I was out of my comfort zone. How could I bring back my old Yahoo! Mail?

Now I understood what a baby goes through when his mommy leaves him with a stranger: complete and utter dejection. Jethro, a Yahoo! customer service rep  – who probably lives in Bangalore – had said via live chat that once I switched to Yahoo! Mail Beta I could not return to my familiar, blue and white Yahoo! Classic Mail. Not now, not ever.  I felt my chest tighten. I had not expected this.

Earlier, when I tried to log on to my email, an ad for the New Yahoo! Mail popped up. It didn’t just pop up, it took over the whole screen. I tried to get around it, and clicked on Mail again, but bam! The obnoxious thing bounced right back. The more distraught I became, the worse my brain functioned.

I was so anxious about getting into my email that I had not even noticed the “opt out” line in the nearly invisible text below.  I felt cornered. And so I clicked.

The new screen appeared dark. Sinister, in fact. And I HATED IT. The paperclip icon for attachments was on the far left. How would I ever remember to look over there? And they’d put in a window with “recent contacts,” some of which I didn’t even know.

I wanted out immediately. It was not what I had bargained for, and it was not right for me. I searched the screen for the small print that says “Return to Classic Mail,” but it was gone.

According to Expressing Emotion: Myths, Realities and Therapeutic Strategies, by Eileen Kennedy Moore and Jeanne C. Watson, what I needed to concentrate on is “adaptive emotional expression.” That’s what you do when you think before opening your pie hole.

But I didn’t want to adapt. I wanted to tell “Jethro” to go f%#@ himself and the water buffalo he rode in on.

So there it was: No more familiar blue and white screen. I was out of my comfort zone – what Moore and Watson would call a “precipitating stimulus.”

If I had started typing obscenities into the live chat window, Jethro would probably have disappeared. Who would have blamed him? I knew that if I had even the least chance of getting my old Yahoo! Mail back, I would need him on my side. And I would have to play by the rules. No venting, say Moore and Watson. But no suppressing emotions either. Hold it together, keep thoughts and feelings connected. And keep going.

But I was so distraught. At first my emotional response didn’t seem to make sense. The only thing Jethro had said was that I couldn’t switch back to Yahoo! Classic Mail. It wasn’t like aliens had abducted my children. I took a moment to think. Was it worth it? Definitely.

I had become conscious of my feelings and identified them, the first two steps in Moore and Watson’s hierarchy. Now I had to label and interpret them.

That was easy. I was really, really ticked. I no longer had something that I valued.

Here’s my live-chat dialog with Jethro as it appears in the printed transcript. My thoughts are in parentheses. (Note my restraint.):

Jethro: I understand, you want to switch back to your old Yahoo! Mail version which is “Classic.” Right?

Me: Correct.

Jethro—I am sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you.

Me: (They train their people well, don’t they?)

Jethro: Be assured that I will do my best to help you. May I have the email address that you are having an issue with?

Me: I give him the email address that I’ve had for nearly a decade.

Jethro: Thank you for the added information. Unfortunately, once you have switched to Yahoo! Mail Beta, you are no longer allowed to switch back to your old Yahoo! Mail version. However, I can help you fix the issue that you are encountering in your Yahoo! Mail account. I am very sorry about this Patricia.

Me: (I try not to cry, and barely maintain my composure. I remember that I have a good reason for feeling miffed.) NO WAY! Yahoo did not present the changes in advance to customers in an email. They did not give us a chance to make a decision based on information or a sample of what it would look like.

Jethro: I understand how you feel about this. We know that switching to a new interface can seem daunting, so we’ve done everything possible to make the transition easy. We’ve designed help pages specifically for users who have recently switched to the newest version of Yahoo! Mail – highlighting the differences you may notice.  

Me: (He thinks I’m an idiot, but I hold my trigger finger.)

Jethro: We hope you give this new version a try. (And on he types, justifying why I should give it a go.)

Me (He doesn’t know he’s talking to a woman who once cleaned and hand-carded an entire fleece full of sheep dung,  then hand-spun skeins of yarn and dyed them with crushed bugs from South America before warping a four-harness loom. Give me a break!) Are you telling me that a high tech Internet company can’t do a switch-back for a customer?

Jethro: Yes, unfortunately, that is correct.

Me: (I wasn’t buying it. And I was losing my patience. But I needed to keep my expression in the proper context. I had to keep it going. Then he types this…)

Jethro: However, we can try to switch your account back to its old version. ..

Me: (My heart is pounding)

Jethro: But there’s no assurance that this will work. Would that be okay?

Me: (YES!) I want it back. Whatever it takes.

After giving Jethro my date of birth, the street I grew up on, and my mother’s maiden name, he tells me to sign out.

Jethro: Allow me 4-5 minutes while I troubleshoot your issue.

My relief is overwhelming. I feel like doing a happy dance. Mommy is home!

The problem had been all my doing. I hadn’t read the fine print. But fixing it was my doing, too. I believed my complaint was justified, worth pursuing. It meant something to me. A lot, in fact.

I just needed to follow a logical path to a resolution, without going off the deep-end, and without giving up. It’s called adaptive emotional expression. And I think it works.  I was pleased with how we ended things:

Me: Thank you!

Jethro:You are most welcome.


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