Sometimes the best lessons and gifts are ones that one cannot be programmed,ordered, enacted, concocted, etc. They can be wished upon a star, prayed for, visualized and called into one’s life in many creative ways. And the point of all this is…the night before Christmas, it happened once more to ME.
It was before the dinner hour, and sunlight had not yet bowed to the darker evening. I had to return a newly bought telephone from Office Depot that worked perfectly fine but did not have a place to put in an earpiece. I had this phone in the original box with me in the car. It was not neatly packed due to laziness and practicality. What would be the point of doing so if the store was just going to pull it out to examine it and then give me another phone in a new box?
Being the intuitive that I am, logic and practicality sometimes escapes me. However on this day, it was with great intention that four errands were mapped out to save both time and gasoline. The last three errands were in downtown Portland, so I parked the car and walked to each location. The phone return would surely take the most time, so that one was last on the “To Due” list. It did take the most tome. I was about ready to move the car to avoid getting a parking ticket,when the store manager told me to park my car in the parking garage next to Office Depot and he would validate the parking. I did as I was told.
Sure enough, when I returned to the store with my parking ticket, the manager validated it and exchanged my phone for one that had more features. I got the phone I wanted at a price I hadn’t expected after some magic (price comparison and something else I wasn’t privy to) was done. I was a happy customer and exited the store and drive home. Home is where I wanted to be, inside away from the cold damp weather that Portland was famously known for in places high and low. Two black cats and a human being were waiting to be fed, (in that order) and I was getting hungry. There was homemade hot turkey soup and a freshly made salad awaiting my return.
First, I wanted to make sure that the phone worked. So, out of the box came the contents. It was easy to set up and only took a few minutes. The phone was set up and plugged in-almost. A part was missing. This didn’t seem fair! Could this really be? The box was turned upside down so all the parts could be examined. A search was made to be certain that the younger cat, a 41/2 month old kitten, hadn’t hidden the missing piece under something. This was a real possibly since every thing in the house was hers and had the potential to be designated a toy. A search revealed nothing, so indeed the part was missing. A quick call was made to Office Depot, and an exchange was arranged. I was informed that it would be best if the phone I had was returned and exchanged that evening so that the same manager on duty could take care of the exchange without having to go into an explanation with someone else at another time. Yes, it would be quicker, and yet, I had no interest in getting into the car again to do this. So, I forced myself with convincing rationalizations that even my best efforts to protest couldn’t argue.
I wanted to get this OVER WITH NOW. I got into the car with my newly purchased phone, and was in downtown Portland in ten minutes and in the store in another five minutes after parking in the parking garage again. The manager had the new phone ready for me. He apologized,and again validated the parking. I was sent over to the cashier who finished the transaction. All this took about two minutes.
I was about to leave the store, and turned to the salesperson. “I bet you had a career before your started working here” I said. He looked at me and said “Yes, I did.” I had just entered another world, a personal part of his life without asking his permission. To ease the poor transition that I had caused, I continued. “You are good with people and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine you doing something else. I too have been working for other people while I rebuild my business.” The technique worked, and he continued talking and told me his story. He ran a transportation company that went broke because of rising fuel costs and the diving economy. His family back moved to Portland,his birthplace. He has had some adjustments to make, and has made peace with his new life. “There are a lot of us out there (meaning in the world). This is just what happens, and people just have to adjust. Things aren’t going back to the way that they just used to be. I am okay with this job. I try to make every interaction with a customer special. That is all that I can do. You have a Merry Christmas.” He smiled.
“You too” I said admiring his attitude. He was authentic. His kind words and ability to listen to the customers standing at the counter in front of him captivated me. He was sincerely interested in helping them. This employee looked you right in the eye!! “Sir, it might be quicker if you went upstairs and paid for your purchases.” “Ma’am, I will be with you in just a few minutes.” “Let me take a minute to make sure that I have this right.” “Come to Office Depot. We will take care of you.”
I looked at him one more time as I turned to leave the store. I had a brand new phone with all the parts needed to work and I had something else that couldn’t be put in a box-hope. Here was one more person in the world that sincerely wanted to do positive things for people. The good feeling from the transactions with him are still with me, two days later as I write this. What a gift.