I’ve been at my job for a little over 5 years. We have ‘regular’ customers. But by ‘regular’, I mean once a month. When you are new, it takes a few months to remember who they are….their names…their habits/personalities. Some are nice…some, not so much. In this job, and in life in general, we never know what struggles people are going through. And we have to remember it is not personal when someone is mean or nasty (not always easy to do).
One man comes in and every time he does, he spends at least an hour in there. It is usually when we aren’t busy. He reminds us that his mom always called him handsome….and that he was born and raised here, in my hometown and was quite the basketball player. He does a lot for our self-esteem…as he always tells us girls/”ladies” how charming we are, how lucky our husbands are, and how beautiful we all are. Yeah, he’s a smooth talker….HE is quite the charmer! Sometimes he hangs around a little longer than he should…but he is a very kind elderly gentleman that I’m sure has faced a lot of struggles in his life. We will not add to it, we just listen to his stories.
Then there is the lady who told me up front that she was going to yell at me and was sorry and she knew it wasn’t my fault, but she was “pissed”. I let her vent….legitimate complaint….but she never raised her voice. I told her we would fix things, and that if that was how she was going to yell at me then she could come in anytime and do so. We got her fixed, and she fast became one of my favorite customers. And WOW did she have quite the life!! Here she was in this little town…..and had a few gold records hanging in her home. She was an amazing and fabulous woman. Last year, lung cancer took her way too early.
And let’s not forget the regular who comes in every month and is just hateful. There are a few. They deserve their own post…..as they can be quite comical.
Then there is Thomas. Thomas is a regular. And he is….awesome. He comes in just about every month and pays his bill. He is paid ahead a few months. When he comes in, he gives us the same amount of money, and then asks to what month he is paid up to. He has a huge smile and seems so happy…and sometimes he appears to be a little slow. You might wonder if, maybe, he has not had an easy life and might wonder what his story is. At least I do…but maybe that is just me. When I got used to seeing him every month (about 3-4 months after I started), I finally was able to address his by his name. He walked in, and I said “Hi Thomas!”…….and he was shocked. He smiled REAL BIG, then said “you remember me?” I said of course I do…and I won’t forget to tell you what month you are paid up to. You would have thought I had given him a million dollars. He seemed in awe that someone would remember him. I use his name every time he comes in now. We had a new person start last year. Thomas always tries to come to my window, but sometimes we are just too busy and he will go to someone else. He went to the new persons window this particular day. He wanted to make his normal payment……but she didn’t understand why he wanted to give her money when he had a big credit to his account. I had to send her a message about him and to also look for how long he was paid up to. She was new…and didn’t have the best…’attitude’……about the whole situation. I made sure to say hi and bye to him to kind of make things normal for him. When he left, she got out the air freshener and made a few comments about him. It’s true, he does have a smell about him, and it’s true, he is not well groomed. But, he is Thomas, and he is a human being. And as I found out a few months ago, he is a Vietnam Veteran. He had a ball cap on one day and I asked him if he was a veteran. He told me he flew one of the bomber planes in ‘Nam. Whether we agree with war or not, Veterans deserve our respect. I reached for his hand, looked him in the eye, and said “Thank You”. I’m not sure too many people have done that before. I don’t mean saying thank you to him, I mean reaching out and shaking his hand. Pretty sure it brought a tear to his eye, based on how quickly he turned and left. I’ve become fairly protective of him, as crazy as it sounds, since I am just a customer service rep, but I make sure if I am not waiting on him, that who ever is, is nicer than they are expected to be. When I don’t see him for a while, I get a little nervous. He was in last week, and I was with another customer. He told my co-worker he would wait for me. I’m glad he did. I asked him how he had been and he informed me that he had had a heart attack the week prior. I remember he had heart surgery about 6 months ago. His doctor told him he needed to take it easy, as he might not survive the next one. I again took his hand, and told him I was glad to see him that day and to make sure he took care of himself, I needed to be able to see him again next month. And again, he smiled….a huge smile…and “ok, we’ll see you next month!” I hope so, Thomas, I hope so.
Sometimes, a simple smile goes a long way. Compassion and humanity are words that few people live by.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.