High Contrast in Personalities Brings a Clear Perspective on Life

I helped a customer the other day whom I will refer to as Mario* to protect his privacy.

Mario recently lost his wife to a horrible accident in December six days before Christmas. He has been coming in since mid February trying to set his account straight by removing his wife's name as the account holder and replacing it with his. During this process, I learned that the Mario and his late wife have a son and a daughter who are both still in high school. My company has some red tape that the man needs to cross in order to change a name on an account and to cancel a phone number without a penalty fee. I understand the need for stipulations, but it has been a long and harrowing process that any other person would have thrown their hands up in defeat and lost their temper. This man, however, encouraged me the entire time of how great of a job I was doing. Every time I saw him, he expressed his deepest gratitude. I couldn't understand how he could be so positive and kind in light of what he and his family was going through, when here I am struggling to hold back my tears as I handled his case in the back room because I did not want to make him uncomfortable by seeing how distraught I got.

Then I had another customer. A woman this time. We will call her Medusa* to protect her privacy.

She stormed into the store and demanded that I help her. The exchange went as follows:

Me: Good morning, how can I help you?
Woman: (throws bill me) I want my credit back.
Me: Sure thing.

I proceeded to ask for her ID and accessed her account. I then called in to the Help Desk to issue her credit to her.

Help Desk: Hi, how can I help you?
Me: I would like to process a corporate refund check to give this woman her fifteen-dollar credit.
Medusa: That is NOT what I asked you to do! I said I want you to give me my money back! If you can't give it to me in cash, give it to me on this! (throws credit card at me)
Help Desk: Oh...you got one of those huh? I'm sorry Sweetie.
Me: (I handed her credit card back to her) It's alright, I work in Downtown; I'm used to it.
Help Desk: Yeah, well I went ahead and sent the request, she should be receiving her check in the mail in about six to eight weeks.
Me: Thank you so much.

I hung up the phone.

Me: Ok, so we don't give cash credits. Your check is coming in the mail. You will be receiving it in the mail in about six to eight weeks.
Medusa: I don't understand why you had to make it so difficult.
Me: Oh, it wasn't difficult at all; it was actually very easy. Which is why you will be receiving your check in the mail in about six to eight weeks. (I smiled at her.)
Medusa: You know, you have a very bad attitude.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry ma'am; I hope you have a better day. (Continued to smile)
Medusa: (Stomps her foot.) I am having a great day! You're the one who's just standing there, smiling at me like that.
Me: (really struggling not to burst out laughing) That's so wonderful! I am so happy you're having a great day, I hope it gets even better!
Medusa: (Turns to my coworker) Do they always talk to customer's like that?
Coworker: She's actually being extremely polite ma'am.
Medusa: You call that polite? She's standing there looking like that with her smile, telling me to have a good day. I just wanted my money back that you guys robbed from me. This is why you're such a horrible company! I'm going to make sure you all go down.

Is my smile really that bad?

I mean...

Oh. I see what she means.

Why was I able to smile the entire time I was being yelled at and having things thrown at me? Why was I able to burst out laughing as soon as the woman left? It was thanks to Mario. His case reminded me that life needs to be looked at as a bigger picture. The man lost his wife during the holiday season. Instead of getting ready for a family dinner during the holidays, he was left with having to plan his wife's funeral. Instead of celebrating Christmas with their mother, his kids had to bury their mother. Yet he still managed to get up everyday, go to work, and take care of business with a wonderful attitude.

Then we have Medusa, who throws a fit over fifteen dollars. Well really, she threw a fit over nothing because she is getting her fifteen dollars back. It made me think, if this woman falls apart over fifteen dollars, or some young girl who smiles at her, how does she handle emotionally catastrophic events like Mario's? I'm so lucky that I was able to witness the two personalities. People go through horrible things all the time, and if they don't act horribly in light of those situations, there is no reason to throw a fit over a petty one.

So, let us all bow our heads and take moment of silence for everyone around the world who is suffering from emotional hardship not unlike Mario.

Let us also take a moment of silence for people like Medusa who have lost their dignity in times of extreme pettiness.

"Details in the Fabric" by Jason Mraz (This one is for Mario)
"I feel like, you're an island of reality in an ocean of diarrhea." 

Medusa, may you find a blessing like Mario soon. Very, very soon.


  1. i hated customers like Medusa when I worked at CVS. it was horrendous. People who would be sincere and nice would be overshadowed by customers who would FIGHT with me over 25 cents. Seriously, had that happen once.

    You have a great smile, medusa was just surprised you didn't turn into stone when you looked at her.

  2. Definitely know those Medusa customers. How wonderful that Mario provided you the ability to look past her bad attitude :)

  3. Coming from 20sb, I appreciated this post. :)

  4. I can see why that lady was so annoyed by your smile!! kekeke j/k .. I'm surprised she didn't ask to speak to your manager!

  5. Found this via 20sb as well. Thanks for this post! Definitely good for perspective. People like Mario are inspiring.