Yes, you. The one who is waiting there in line behind the counter. The one I’ve been apologizing to for a good ten minutes because we are hopelessly understaffed today and I have to finish a long sale. The one who still manages to smile, even though I know this is eating away at your time. The one who says, “It’s okay. I can see you’re busy.”
You are the one who forgives me when I have made a mistake. It was me who typed in the wrong product. It was me who printed out the wrong contract. It was me who was embarrassed about the things I messed up. You listened to my apology and you accepted it with incredible grace. You chose to concentrate on the things I did right instead. You concentrate on the new information I researched for you to take home, and the extra hours I spent on the phone for you to chase up your order. You acknowledge my effort and you walked in here without acting like I owed you my servitude.
You don’t even have to buy a product. You could be the customer who had every right to complain about a late order or a faulty product, but understood that I was not to blame in this situation. You could be the one who realized this was out of my control. You are the one who did not scream at me in the store. You waved me off when I tried to apologize on somebody else’s behalf. You said, “It’s not your fault. Thank you for trying your best.”
You don’t know how grateful I am, here in the eighth hour of my shift standing on my feet in cheap flats. Thank you for looking me in the eye and seeing a human who makes human errors and still tries to do a good job. Thank you for not making a sexist joke and expecting me to just laugh it off because so many customers seem to think my official job title is ‘Working Doormat’. Thank you for not negating my presence simply because you think I am absolutely at your disposal.
Sadly, you are a rare kind of customer. I search for you in the faces of customers I converse with and I see a glimmer of your possibility. But when you do appear, you make it worth this job. You are the one that reminds me that people are capable of empathy. You have set foot in a place where humanity goes to die and patience is a precious commodity few seem to afford. Here, with the clink of the register and the swipe of credit cards, you stand there with so much understanding. And you have no idea how much I appreciate it.
The employee you treated like a person