Get Them To The Prom On Time

, , | Hopeless | May 19, 2016

(I manage my family’s service center where we sell and repair various household appliances (e.g., sewing machines, vacuums, fans, lamps, etc.). A gentleman walks in at the same time as an older lady who is carrying a serger. Note: these are very complicated machines to repair properly and require a lot of work.)

Older Lady: “I broke a needle on my machine.”

(I look and notice that one of the upper needles is missing, one that is easy to replace so I assume that this is the issue and that she might have difficulty replacing it herself because of the tight space and small tools required.)

Me: “I can put one on for you really quickly. Those needles are less than a dollar apiece” *I go fetch the needle required and the small screwdriver needed to make the repair*

Older Lady: *as I begin to get the needle into place* “Oh, not that one. One of the bottom needles.”

(She opens the machine and shows me another part that is actually more expensive and much more difficult to replace. A call to our technician reveals that the part will be about $20 and that the service will be far more than a basic labor charge because she will have to disassemble much of the machine to replace it.)

Me: “Okay, with the part, your total will be [much larger amount than she or I had expected].”

Older Lady: “I really can’t afford to do that right now. I’ll have to come back next month.”

(I realize that she much be on Social Security or some other monthly stipend, and begin to feel a little awkward for her and me because at this point the gentleman, who has been quiet the whole time, has been waiting quite a while and is now privy to her financial situation.)

Me: “I can print this estimate out for you so that you know what to expect when you bring your machine back and so that this won’t take quite so long.”

Older Lady: “It’ll have to be soon. The girls will be coming in with their prom dresses in a couple weeks.”

(At this point, the gentleman reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet, handing me the full amount for her repair.)

Gentleman: “Here. It sounds like you have a lot of projects coming up and this way your machine will be all tuned up when those girls come in for their prom fittings.”

(The amount he paid for a stranger’s machine is about what my base pay is for a week. The lady and I didn’t really know how to react but I finished taking her machine in to our service system and as she walked out she asked if she could give the gentleman a hug which he obliged. Thank you, sir. I should have gotten your name but our whole family appreciates what you did and we’re trying to pay it forward!)

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