I was raised by a village of loving, supportive Hiconians and for the most part the rules were simple:
- do as you’re told,
- always say sir or ma’am,
- and treat others the way you want to be treated.
Believe me when I say that I’m fully aware of the sheltered life Hico provided for my sisters and myself. It’s apparent in all aspects of my life and I’m thankful everyday that my hometown played so much into the adult-ish person I am today. We definitely could have spent more time on driving skills like traffic circles, lights that do more than blink, one way street confusion and whatever the heck parallel parking is – but I don’t drive anymore than absolutely necessary and everyone is safer because of it. One of the biggest qualities my tiny hometown instilled and cultivated in me as a contributor to society is empathy.
Empathy refers to the ability to relate to another person’s pain vicariously, as if one has experienced that pain themselves” Merriam Webster
The optimist in me believes that everyone has good intentions with their display of empathy when supporting a loved one in a time of difficulty or uncertainty. But the realist in me knows that even though they mean well, the words, sentiments and gestures are likely more hurtful than helpful. We’re all doing the best we can, but c’monnnnn man -__- Take a deep breath, count to 5 if you need to, but you do not – I repeat: you do NOT – always have to say the first thing that comes to your mind. You will not explode, or implode, or shutdown completely – and those on the receiving end will likely appreciate you more for it. This quote from Option B sums it up perfectly:
Where is all of this coming from? Well I’ll just tell you. Last week I was at the post office sending out the huge stack of magazines I’d been promising to get in the mail for a week. I went after 2, to avoid the lunch shift and rush, and patiently waited in line. My wonderful assistant (Kenneth) had everything properly addressed, labeled, and packed so that all I had to do was buy postage.
There was one person working and the line was long so I settled in and waited for my turn to the window. When I was the 3rd person from the front, the man working loudly announced to the entire room “You better hope those have postage on them, I don’t have time to run them because I’m by myself and there is a line.” My response was “No sir they do not have postage, and I cannot use the self serve kiosk in the lobby because it only accepts single transactions and my hands don’t work very well.”
His response to that was “You’re hands don’t work? Well what’s wrong with you?”
Y’all, I bit my lip so hard I thought it was going to bleed. I stared at the ceiling, took several deep breaths, and fought back my tears. I have never felt more embarrassed, more exposed, more frustrated in my life. The conversation ended there until it was my turn to approach the window. He politely asked if I could apply the postage myself if he printed it, and I agreed. Because each package was going a different direction, it wasn’t that simple. When his coworker returned from her lunch he was quick to let me know that “he would run them for me now that he has help” as if I owed him for doing me this grand favor.
$120 in postage later, I was out of there with the mans name and a mile long receipt with this at the bottom:
“Help us serve you better, tell us about your recent postal experience at www….”
Life lessons from customer service gigs:
- don’t ask me to complete a survey if you don’t want to know my answer
- don’t wear a nametag if you don’t want your name referenced in said survey
- don’t ask inappropriate questions like “what’s wrong with you?”
Mah diffused the situation once I got in the car, our manta “I will not punch anyone today” repeated more times than normal. At home, Kenneth reassured me that we cannot afford the bail that accompanies a headline like “Local woman goes postal on post office employee with walking stick named Phil”. And the girls reminded me of the crazies that follow me on all of my adventures, clearly this man was unaware of what ridiculousness would come his way if I had reacted.
And I’m off my soapbox, it’s been a week and I’m choosing to use this as a teaching moment over holding onto the hurt. I’ll leave you with this perfectly timed sprinkle: