Data Protection Requires You To Act

, , , | | Right | June 7, 2019

(I work at the general customer service area where you would never be required to use a social to search for your account.)

Caller: “Hi. I’m [Caller] and my social is [number].”

(For the first time in fifteen years of customer service, I lose my professional front, cut them off mid-number, and chew them out on the dangers of giving away their social security number without a good reason. I then ask them what they need help with. They need to change their phone number. Done. Have a great day.)

Manager: *coming on the line* “I should write you up, but you probably did more help than harm.”

(Later, I got the survey for that call. It was four paragraphs thanking the agent for teaching them about giving out personal information!)


Unpacking This Flat-Pack Story Results In Something Beautiful

, , , , , | | Hopeless | June 6, 2019

I took my elementary-aged son and his two hungry friends to a cafeteria within a store for lunch after church, because it’s really affordable and we are not all that comfortable financially.

How awful to load up our trays, get up to the register, and then find out my wallet was missing! Yet the cashier empathized with the situation and helped me think through some ideas for alternate payment.

I stood to the side to download a mobile payment app to my phone and get it set up, but it’s an old phone and there were tech problems. The cashier then offered to pay for the meal and have me reimburse her via a different payment app. So, I stood to the side again to download it, but because of my old phone and spotty data connection, this was taking a very long time.

I came so very close to panicking. Everything was loud, it got so hot in there, I was dizzy… The boys were jumping around and freaking me out, so I sent them on various “errands” to keep them busy. And then I remembered to breathe.

After several minutes of me working the app situation, the cashier called me back over to the register and handed me a receipt, telling me, “Here you go. It’s paid for. It’s on me. Enjoy your meal.” I was stunned by the generosity and sincerely thanked her! Reading the receipt, it looked like she actually paid for the meal personally vs. using a discount code or comping it.

The part of the story the cashier didn’t know is that my son’s two friends come from an insecure food situation at home. I try to invite them over for snacks and meals as often as possible. They hadn’t eaten yet, and this cafeteria meal with us was likely to be their only one today. My gratefulness for this cashier’s generosity went deeper than her simply saving me the embarrassment of a missing wallet. Her kindness ensured these boys had food for the day — literally.

After our meal, I went back to the registers to thank her again and find out if I could reimburse her now, as I’d finally gotten the app working on my phone. But she was gone, and the other workers weren’t sure of her name because she was new. I made sure to write to the company with everything I’ve shared here and tell them how awesome their cashier was to us.

So Tire-d Of These Stereotypes

, , , , | | Right | June 6, 2019

(I work in a large store that also has a busy auto section, selling auto parts along with service for tires, oil changes, etc. Due to an unusual set of circumstances, I am the only person in the entire department, which is against policy because I will have to cover the register as well as service cars. Also, because of safety reasons, I cannot go into the pit to drain oil without another worker in the bay. I am explaining this to two different angry and impatient customers while ringing out a third. Another asks me to show him where something is while an older gentleman waits patiently. I finally get to the gentleman and apologize for the wait.)

Customer: “That’s okay. You are busy. How long until a technician can look at my tire?”

Me: “I am a technician.” *keep in mind I am in a technician uniform, covered in grease* “I can look at it right now.”

Me: *a few minutes later* “I found the screw in your tire. Unfortunately, it is too close to your sidewall. A patch will not hold. You need a new tire. We do installations for free.”

Customer: *looks at me suspiciously because I am female* “So, what can you recommend for a [truck]?”

(I show him several tires that would fit and discuss the pros and cons of each. During this, I excuse myself to ring out two more customers and write up a service order for another while explaining the delay. The customer chooses a tire. Unfortunately, we have none in stock but we have a display model on a very tall riser. He agrees to buy it. I get out a tall, heavy ladder and as I am hauling it over, another angry customer who has been waiting in the bay comes charging over yelling. I calm him down and start to climb the ladder.)

Customer: “No, wait. Let me get that.”

Me: “Sir, I appreciate it, but I can’t let you, for safety reasons.”

Customer: “But you are a girl and I am a guy. I really should get that. It’s too heavy for you.”

Me: “Sir, I trained ex-racehorses and lifted sacks of grain over 100 pounds. This probably weighs 40. Can you lift 100 pounds?” *the customer looks sheepish* “And no disrespect intended at all, but you are at least twice my age. If someone has to fall off a ladder, I will heal a lot quicker. But I sincerely appreciate the offer.”

(I got the tire down without incident. I pulled the old tire off, mounted the new tire, and balanced it for free. During this, I was writing up more orders and ringing out more people until my coworker arrived. A few weeks later, the district manager of the entire store visited. I was called into the office. The managers played like I had done something horribly wrong until they presented me with a three-page letter this guy wrote about me. He glowed about my patience and knowledge of tires and yelled at the store for making me work in such conditions. The district manager put a commendation in my file — which almost guarantees the top raise next review, and it did come through — and gave me a share of company stock for a reward.)

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A Very Bear-able Service

, , , | | Hopeless | June 5, 2019

(I am staying at a large — several hundred rooms — four-star hotel in central Berlin, co-organising a congress for over 800 people. Our crew, including technicians, artists, and the like, could very well be sixty-something people. We almost take over the entire hotel for four days because we have rented all of the conference rooms, and our boss has requested that we get breakfast served earlier than usual — 5:30 — so that we can get to work early preparing everything. Needless to say, we are known. I am twenty-five at the time. I’m my boss’s second-in-command, a translator and interpreter in a foreign country working for a crew that does not know the local language. Through this, I get to know almost all of the hotel staff and I am very much known, too, because whenever something needs doing or taking care of, I am the one to contact anybody else in the hotel, and vice-versa; whenever anyone from the hotel wants anything from us, they come to me. This is the last day, it’s three or four am, the congress is almost over, and the people are just dancing in the main congress hall. I see my boss asleep at the sound mixing table, so I figured I’m permitted to hit the sack myself. I take the long elevator ride and walk up to my room, only to find that my key card is not working. I find my way down to the reception. Mind you, it’s been a very long few days.)

Me: *very tired* “Hello. My card seems to not be working anymore. Could you recode it for me?”

Clerk: *definitely older than my father* “Certainly. What is your room number?”

Me: “Room [number].”

Clerk: “Here you go. Can I get you anything?”

(I pause. At first, I don’t say anything; I don’t move because I am so very tired. The clerk is very, very polite with me. I notice a shelf with memorabilia from Berlin. As is the usual case with hotels, they are all VERY pricey. I notice a small teddy bear costing 32 Euros, which is a small fortune for me at the time, but I want to bring home something nice.)

Me: “Yes. Could I see that little bear, please?”

Clerk: *hands me the bear* “Here you are.”

Me: *looking at the bear, then slowly* “I will take it. Please sell it to me. I will pay cash.”

(The clerk takes the teddy bear from my hands, looks at it, and looks at me, and I don’t know why, but he says:)

Clerk: “I’m giving it to you as a gift.”

Me: *almost too tired to be surprised* “Really? Thank you very much, sir. Have a good night.”

(I walked off, very much stunned. The staff at this hotel were always very, very helpful. I felt the clerk took pity on me because I was so beat up, and he really didn’t have to make that gesture, but he did.)

He Has An Amazing Station In Life

, , , , , , | | Hopeless | May 29, 2019

I take the commuter rail to work every day. The station I get off at is extremely busy. It is right in the middle of a college campus — people actually walk through the station to get from one side of campus to the other — and has connections to about six different bus lines, a subway line, and shuttle buses to a local medical area. The neighborhood is okay, but not stellar, and lots of students walking through tends to mean a lot of dropped trash and such. The roof is leaky, and sometimes the doors don’t close all the way, so dirt, leaves, and rain get in.

However, this is the absolute cleanest station on the line because of one janitor. This man is a machine. He is constantly sweeping, mopping, cleaning handrails, and picking up trash. Even on the most crowded days, there is hardly anything on the floor. I’ve been seeing him every day, just quietly doing his job more thoroughly than the (higher paid) janitors at the college I work at.

One cold day, I decided that his guy needed some sort of recognition for his work. I got him a $40 card to the local coffee and donut shop and gave it to him, explaining how grateful I was for his efforts. He looked surprised, but then his face lit up with the biggest grin I had ever seen on him. I wave at him all the time now, and I’m glad he knows that at least one of the ten gazillion people rushing by notices his amazing work.

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