Today was a Saturday errand day. One of my lessons from today is that I don’t envy people who work in customer service.

I had to call flower delivery folks, a nationwide service, because I called my grandmother and she didn’t say anything about the flowers she was supposed to have gotten yesterday for Mother’s Day. They showed as delivered, but obviously, they weren’t. While I was on that call, I expressed my wishes to have it corrected. I was sure they were overwhelmed for Mother’s Day weekend, but I want my grandma to get her flowers. I was calm and polite. The lady I was talking to; her voice changed during the call. She relaxed. She thanked me for being so understanding.

I had to buy new tires today for my car. Unfortunately, they’re an odd size of performance tire so it was just as expensive as I expected. I left my car there and walked across the street to do some other shopping. When I got back, my car was waiting – with a brand new set of scuffs, rips, and puncture wounds on the driver side rear bumper. I walked in and asked, “What the heck happened to my car?” Turns out the tech didn’t see a trailer on another vehicle when he was backing mine out. That young man came in a few moments later to personally apologize to me. I could tell he was still heartsick that it happened at all. The shop was good about it, they’re going to set up having the body work taken care of. As we were working out some of the details, I was again thanked for being so understanding, as they visibly relaxed.

I don’t fly off the handle in anger easily. It doesn’t solve anything. I’m also an engineer – I deal with problems every single day, all day long. They don’t get solved by yelling or getting upset. Even if they are upsetting, one still has to analyze the problem and come up with solutions. Carrying on like a mad man doesn’t encourage other people to work with you to resolve whatever problem has come up.

As I was thanked repeatedly for my understanding today, it really hit me how many other people must think that being a jerk (or, I’ll say it, an asshole) to others “gets things done.” These people who deal with customers all day were obviously physically and mentally prepared to be screamed at. Has that become part of  American culture? There seem to be plenty of examples for that lately in leadership, in politics, in business, even with parents who make demands of teachers. I prefer to be a gentleman, in all things, as much as possible. Being a gentleman doesn’t have to be a lost art. Maybe the folks in customer service would be less tense if more people were courteous and kind.


One thought on “Customer Service (A Scoutmaster Minute)

  1. Thanks for writing this. It has been a hard lesson to learn for me even at my age. I am kind of proud that my formerly very, very, VERY short fuse, as gained great length. Now if I could just learn that people on the other end of my world can some times not use even a modicum of common sense and say “hey I am sorry I messed up on this or that and instead kind of go on the attack even in a ‘quiet’ manner.


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