There are few careers in which you’re not in service to someone else. A lawyer is in service to their clients; a doctor in service to their patients, a soldier is in service to our country, yet many perceive those professions in higher regard than the waitress who brings you your burger and fries at the nearby shiny sided diner.
It’s thinking in that vein which results in many service professionals at the receiving end of some unnecessary abuse. I want to know where regular God-fearing, taxpaying, childbirthing grown ass adults think it’s okay to speak to another human being with such degrading vitriol? I know a common thought is that many people who are abused go on to abuse themselves, but when can we break the cycle? When can we make it right?
I work in customer service. I absolutely love what I do. I sell a luxury product. You don’t need what I have to offer you, nor can everyone afford it. It enriches your life and if you want it you’ll search it (and probably me) out. Many years ago a woman came into my office to do business with me. She was an adult; showed no signs of mental incapacity; brought her two young children in with her and had a credit card in her own name (a platinum Amex to be exact). We discussed her options, came to the conclusion she signed all the necessary forms to purchase and left the office quite pleased. The next day I got a phone call from an irate gentleman (I’ll use that word ironically). He had seen a charge on his and his wife’s mutual AMEX card and was calling to discuss it. I explained nicely that she had come in gone over the necessary paperwork and purchased a trip (okay…spoiler I work in travel). He replied by telling me that I needed to cancel that trip, that I did not have his authority to purchase it and that how dare I take advantage of his wife (his free thinking ADULT wife with the credit card in her name). I explained that “I’ll gladly cancel the hotel and transfer portion, but that the airline ticket she purchased were (as all generally are) nonrefundable.”
then shit got real
He hit the roof. Swearing at me, calling me every name in the book including a bitch. He told me that if I didn’t find a way to refund the tickets, he would come down to my office and make me eatthem. I was 21 years old, doing my job to the best of my abilities and I was a sobbing, slobbery mess after hanging up the phone that night.
I know (and knew) that I had done everything right, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this man (this man with a wife and a daughter of his own) thought it was okay to speak to another woman that way. My shock still resonates today, 10 years later. When I think of that man, and the way he spoke to me my pulse quickens and my spine turns cold. A decade later and this man still makes recoil. I’m probably not the only one that gets douchechills thinking about him, and that’s sad.
My husband works for a large ‘big box’ store that sells home improvement items. He is a specialist within his department and spends a large portion of his workday alongside general contractors and other construction professionals. He likes what he does and enjoys helping people.
One day not so long ago he called me to relay an upsetting encounter with a customer. This grandmotherly woman (in a soft pink collegiate sweatshirt) wanted to get some hardware replaced on a door. A door she swore she ordered in his store. So J took her phone number to look it up. Nothing. He widened the search to other stores in our state. Nothing.
The woman was incensed. She began ranting about how my husband did not know how to do his job correctly. She leaned in close and told him “I spend more money in here than you’ll see in your lifetime.”
What. The. Fuck.
For the record, J powered through it and it was discovered that the order was under her old phone number, which she had not offered up for the search at all.
I just want to know where people get off thinking they have the right to be so rude to other people. Did they wake up in their sleep number bed one morning, eat a bowl of razor blades and decide that today was the day to humiliate someone else? Did they drown a bunch of kittens in their farmhouse sink and decide that the person who brought their lettuce-free, dressing on the side salad only deserved a ten percent tip and a scowl? What makes seemingly ordinary people act like righteous giant buttholes?
I decided to trend the opposite way. I’m not only going to KILL with genuine kindness, but I am also going to go out of my way to make other people feel good. Not in an HJ on the DL feel good, but in a grinch-heart growing kind of good.
I got a phone call from a store credit card collection center recently. My autodraft for payment turned off and I hadn’t noticed. I was two months behind on the bill and needed to ante up. The person on the phone was just SO lovely and good at their job, I couldn’t let them go without speaking to their supervisor and letting him know what an asset they had. Pretty sure that they seldom hear great feedback!
I challenge you to try it too. Make someone’s day! Let me know what you did to bring a smile to a stranger, or recognize their hard work. Don’t be a giant butthole!