Last week during my shopping rounds, I came across a more than rude store assistant. I say more than rude because I could tell her attitude was just a figment of her story. In my attempt to give her the benefit of the doubt, I pictured she must have been going through something – family, personal or work related, so I tried to adjust to accommodate that possibility. Still, it was obvious that this lady was not present at her job during our interactions. It was in a 2-days-succession.
Rushing from a mall that was an hour away, I called this store and the lady in question was at the other end. She picked up and I immediately told her my plight – making a one hour journey to find an item in a particular size. I asked her to help me check if they carried that size in store. With my travel time taking so long, I knew I would arrive moments before the store closes, so wasting further time to track down an item online was out of the question. But that’s why stores have phones, right?
First came her attitude, then pure negligence, almost as if I had asked her to do something that was not a part of her job description. And even then, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t hurt to go above and beyond at your job, by doing tasks that were not considered would be necessary at the time your job description was typed up. Lady D, as I want to call her, kept asking for the actual item ID. My response? “Please check if you have any item that’s generic and meets my item description; it doesn’t matter if it’s the exact item I want, I just need to make sure you have this item in Size X in store”. And that was all I really wanted to know, because I knew that with shopping, something you find online may not be as appealing when you see it in person in store, so it’s always better to have more options waiting. I knew this store had a ton of options. To me, I was discharging my duties past what I had expected I’d have to do for this client but someone on the other end could not do hers? It was mind boggling but I kept pressing during this phone call that took longer than it needed to. Oh, I had also explained to her that I couldn’t pull up the exact item’s number because I was “flying in” from an hour away. We don’t want accidents because of a slothful store assistant, do we?
A point came in this call where I had to raise my voice and be very firm with Lady D. She really did not want to go to the racks and look for a Size 42 suit. Goodness gracious! She eventually promised to check. I thanked her and kept at my journey, hoping to make it to the store in good time.
God came through, and I did. As soon as I showed up at the counter, no one had to tell me who Lady D was. There she was, frowning, and her face turned down some more when she realized I was the one who called in. At that moment, I could tell that if she could throw the suit at me, she would have. I paid no attention, thanked her again and took the suit from her. She had picked out the right sizes I requested for and put them on hold. It seemed like she needed a little push to do her job effectively.
I headed to the racks and picked out items I deemed would suit my clients then headed to checkout at another counter since hers had closed. The other ladies I met were quite nice and checkout was a breeze.
I had misread the tags on the shirts I bought for my client the previous day, so out went Memkoh on another hike to this same store. No, I didn’t call in this time, haha! More like I didn’t need to, because I had picked and dropped the correct size the previous day, so I knew just where to walk to upon my arrival. This time, I decided to checkout with Lady D. Actually, she saw me when I walked into her section of the store and her countenance which wasn’t bright in the first place, got darker. I smiled at her and said “hello”.
At checkout, it was a different story. Her face was just bitter the entire time. I’ll describe the scenario to you.
Lady D took her sweet time to check me out. It probably took twenty minutes for this exchange that I’m sure has two steps – retag the returned items and remove the tags from the new items – in addition to the exchange entries she had to make. It probably took her five minutes or more to remove each tag. I did not complain. Instead, I stood there patiently and watched her. Then she flung one packed shirt open in a bid to remove the tag. I had deliberately selected that one since it was still in its original packing. So I revolted. “I’m sorry ma’am, that’s a gift so it needs to be packed”. It felt like I had struck her with a bow and arrow from the look she gave me. I offered to quickly take it back and pull out another, but she chose to do it herself. Sluggishly, she strutted to the racks and upon her return, I told her “Thank you so much and sorry for all the trouble last night”. She said “Oh, it’s no problem” and let out a smile that lasted less than 60 seconds. This was the scary part. I had said that to her right as she walked past my right side, heading back to the checkout counter and before she turned to face me, the smile was gone! Seeing that happen just left me astonished! The fake smile crew?
Lady D was done helping me checkout now and she didn’t even acknowledge the dress I had placed on the counter (my reward for the 2 days of hassle). So I motioned to it and she eventually started checking that out. She issued my receipt, asked if I wanted it in a separate bag which I declined (seeing how much trouble this was already) and tossed it in my old bag. I thanked her and picked up my bags to leave. This was the defining moment.
I asked her “Did I give you my business card yesterday? I’m not sure if you were one of the two ladies that checked me out on the other side”. She shook her head. I brought out my card and handed it to her. “I’m a personal stylist and shopper”, I said.
As I walked away from the mall, I realized that doing good is really not as easy as we think and is definitely a conscious decision we have to make daily. Had I chosen to reciprocate the bad attitude she had towards me, I would have dragged down my business all by myself as she would have scuffed once I handed her my business card. Or maybe I wouldn’t have had the courage to share it with her. Still, it was clear to me that I had just made a huge decision on my part by acting the way I did.
This poem I learnt in church in my childhood days just came to mind. I’ll share.
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as ever you can.
Thank you for reading and have a lovely weekend!