“Everyone is Fighting A Battle You Know Nothing About”
I am a true believer in the aforementioned statement … i think of those words often and try to keep them in the forefront of my daily interactions with people I come in contact with in my life – personally and professionally. Truth be told, that mind set has allowed me to help, forgive and manage relationships with those that pass in and out of my life.
Here is a small story and example I’d like to share:
I have been driving around with a “SERVICE DUE” light on in my car for over a month. A friend urged me to get to the 10 minute oil change spot, free car wash too. BONUS! Why wasn’t I taking care of business? I have ten minutes….not to mention, I needed it for my car to be protected and drive safely. DONE. I head to the shop with my summer reading book in tow (just in case I am there longer than the advertised ten minutes).
I pull in and am immediately signaled down by the employee (Henry) to pull back, move over, his head shaking in frustration at me. I am confused but pull back, put my car in the other lane and ask if that’s ok? He said, “Sure, if you want to wait 30 minutes.” Immediately, I turn into “Efficient Jim, No BS Jim,” and “You’re not going to get away with talking to me/treating me like that…Jim.” You might know him…he comes around every so often …. I march into the shop and ask to talk to a manager, but I am told he’s gone for three hours. I was told to ask for another General Manager, he won’t come speak with me as he is busy with another issue. Now. I. Am. Fuming. Other customers agreeing, seeing what just went down. I feel good, I am “right.” Really, this guy is disrespecting me? I grew up in a family owned and operated customer service business and throughout my life I work with customers every day .. I say to myself “I would never treat a customer this way.” It was ingrained into my DNA that “the customer is always right!”
I walk outside and the Henry pulls a different car into the open lane I had just occupied. Okay. Now you KNOW I am not going to let this one go! He goes on to tell me that was MY choice to move the car, blah, blah, blah …. I feel like I am in the “Twilight Zone” … I am not getting thru to Henry and he’s having zero luck justifying what just went down. We are not listening to each other and we are both too frustrated to take the time. He ultimately “agrees” to take my car and eventually comes into the waiting room shop to share I need a few “extra services.” In other words, much more expensive that originally anticipated… yeah right …
At this point I am heated … “Okay”, I say to myself “I got this.” After all I remind myself at this moment, “Everyone Is Fighting A Battle You Know Nothing About” … I suggest we hit the “reset button”.
I offer my hand in a handshake and say “Henry … Friends?” and introduce myself appropriately. After some small talk, I sensed he was just having a bad day. The grown man starts crying and shares he lost his grandmother (who raised him) the night before. I immediately give him a warm embrace (whispered words of support), thanked him for sharing his loss with me and encouraged him to make the most of the rest of the afternoon. WOW.
I went back inside, I shared my experience with the woman at the cashier counter. I asked her to pass Henry’s issue along to the owner to please watch out for him, bought a card -best one you can find at the car wash- and left him a note with a generous tip. Hopefully one he can justify taking a personal day off with the contents of the envelope.
I think Henry and I both learned a valuable lesson that day and I am grateful for that experience.
The lesson? “Be nice … for everyone you meet, is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
Stay positive … have faith … be good to others