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Fathers Aren’t Left Out To Sea

, , , , , , | Right | June 27, 2022

I work for a cruise line helping with a children’s activity area. Parents are allowed to drop children off to be watched by us for a little while. One day, a man dropped off his young son with us. It was close to Mother’s Day, so we had little Mother’s Day cards to color, and my coworker tried getting the boy to make one.

Boy: “Does it say Mommy?”

Coworker: “It says Mom right here.”

Boy: “Do you have a Daddy one?”

Coworker: “You mean for Father’s Day?”

Boy: “Yes, please.”

Coworker: “But Father’s Day is a long way away. Mother’s Day is soon so maybe you should make something for your mom first.”

Boy: “I don’t have a mommy.”

Coworker: “What do you mean?”

Boy: “I have two daddies instead of a mommy. Aunt [Name] was pregnant for my daddies, but she is my aunt not a mommy.”

Coworker: “Oh, umm…”

Me: “Oh. It was nice of your aunt to help your dads, and it is nice of you to want to make something for them. Just give me a minute and I’ll get a special Father’s Day card you can color for them.”

We have similar cards we used for Father’s Day, so I printed out one for the child. Then, using a thick pen so it would hopefully stand out against kid coloring, I put an apostrophe after the S in “father’s” and tried my best to turn the apostrophe in front of the S into a tilted heart, so it would read as “Fathers’ Day” instead. The kid happily decorated it before moving on to other activities.

I’d mostly forgotten about the exchange until the man who dropped the boy off and another man walked into the center. The kid immediately shouted, “Dad!” and got up to run to them. I was busy with some other kids, but I did notice the kid proudly presenting the card to his dads while talking animatedly.

A little while later, one of the men came up to me.

Man: “My son told me you made a special Fathers’ Day card just for him. I just wanted to say that my husband and I really appreciate your doing that for him. We’re going to hang this card up as soon as we get home. Thank you.”

It really was nothing special on my part; it only took a few minutes. But his thanks warmed me anyway.

Operation Independence

, , , | Right | June 25, 2022

I once had an eighty-four-year-old customer come into the men’s department to buy some flannel shirts. He had never shopped for anything in his life; first, his mom had done it for him, and then, his wife.

His demeanor as I waited on him suggested he was probably a World War II or Korean War vet. He tackled it like a military campaign. He had no idea what size he wore. I measured him. I directed him to shirts that were easy to care for and long enough in the arms.

Me: “Have you ever done laundry?”

Customer: “No.”

Of course he hadn’t. I showed him the label with care instructions and explained washing and drying procedures.

He left, armed with knowledge sufficient to do it on his own. He left, having succeeded in his mission, with the help of a local. It was one of my favorite customer encounters of all time.

If They’re Willing, There’s Usually A Way, Part 2

, , , , , | Working | June 24, 2022

I entered a 200-km Audax (non-competitive cycling event), and I have a day return train ticket from London. I am just recovering from a broken clavicle, and it turns out this ride is a bit much for me at my current level of fitness. When I realise I am not going to finish the ride in time to qualify, I slow down and wend my gentle way back to the station to take me home.

I am hungry and tired and the temperature is dropping. I find I have missed the last train back to London, but no worries; it’s only four hours until the first morning train, so I can just curl up in the waiting room until it comes. It’s warm enough, and I am so tired that I will probably have a nice sleep. My biggest concern is whether I need a new ticket.

A train employee comes in and asks me where I am going. I tell her London. She points to the depart board where there is only one train, heading away from London, arriving in a little while. She tells me once that train departs, the station will close until the first train in the morning. She looks very concerned and walks away. 

I am too tired to be worried. I know it’s impossible after midnight to book a hotel room online for the same night, and the idea of cycling around to find a hotel with a manned reception or calling random hotels sounds harder than the alternative of just finding a bus shelter and curling up until the station reopens. I won’t die at 3°C, and I am unlikely to come to harm. It’s been a hard day, and it’s just going to be a little harder.

Meanwhile, my heroine is apparently more worried than I am. Maybe she knows her town better than I do and doesn’t want to leave a woman sleeping rough near the train station. Or maybe I just look as pathetic as I feel. Whatever the reason, she has obviously been thinking hard about how to keep me safe or warm or both.

Train Worker: “I’ve worked out what you should do. Catch the train to Peterborough. When it gets there, just stay where you are. An hour later, it will leave again, coming back through Stevenage and on to London. I will let the guard on board know what you are doing.”

So that was it. A concerned rail worker went out of her way to make sure I was warm and safe the whole way back to London. I even got enough sleep to make the cycle from Kings Cross station to my home pleasant — London before six is a delightful place to cycle. She was so careful of my welfare that it would not have surprised me if she was considering inviting me into her home before alighting on a better solution.

I filled in a very positive customer feedback form, which was actually rather difficult, as the form assumed I was making a complaint! Oh, and the gates were open when I got to London, so I didn’t have to buy a new ticket.

If They’re Willing, There’s Usually A Way

Secretaries Run The World

, , , , , , | Romantic Working | June 22, 2022

This happened in the mid-1990s when having a cellphone was pretty much unheard of. I own a car repair shop in a small town, and one day, a woman came in visibly distressed. As she was turning off the highway, she heard a pop sound and it sounded like her tire. It actually wasn’t; it was her tire axle, which is a completely different thing and a bit more costly.

After looking at the amount of work it would take, what it would cost, and whether we had the part in stock (surprisingly, we did) I went back out to talk to her sitting in the waiting room. Or at least, that was where I had left her. Instead, I saw her standing behind the desk answering the phone and writing notes for the mechanics, and my front person was nowhere to be found.

When she hung up the phone, making another note, she caught my eye. When I started to ask her what was going on, the phone rang again, and she sighed and picked it up again. She gave our answering spiel and then also started asking what vehicle the customer was talking about. When that call was done, I quickly asked her what was going on.

She laughed and shrugged her shoulders.

Customer: “About forty-five minutes ago, your front office person told me he needed a smoke and walked out. Then, the phone started ringing, so I just answered it; I’m a receptionist and I know how important it is for the customer to be heard! Don’t worry; I’ve been telling everyone that I’m brand-new but I’d get all their questions to the proper people. That’s what this notepad is filled with!”

My front office person strolled back inside as I was letting the woman who had graciously helped out know what was going on with her car. The front office guy had the gall to tell me that he thought he might need to go home early. I let him know that he could go home early as in right now, and then I let him know what I thought of him leaving a customer alone at the front desk for over forty-five minutes.

Employee: “This place will go to pieces without me!”

Then, he took his stuff and stormed out. I turned to the woman who had helped me already so much.

Me: “I’ll give you a free replacement on your axle if you can help me out with the phone for the rest of the day.”

Customer: *Laughing* “Only if you buy me lunch; I’m starving!”

After getting her lunch and getting her car roadworthy, I walked back to our front office to find that in between calls, she had wiped down everything, made piles/folders for pressing issues, reorganized the call system to make more sense, and even managed to hang up a notification system for all of the mechanics.

Me: *Jokingly* “Are you looking for a job? Because you can have one with me any time.”

Customer: *Laughing* “I’ll think about it!”

And now, nearly thirty years later, she still laughs when people ask how we met and tells them, “I came in for a car repair and found a job and husband.”

This story is part of our Halfway-Through-2022 roundup!

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Just Another Perk Of Being The Owner

, , , , , | Working | CREDIT: Goobersniper | June 22, 2022

I worked in a very popular, large, cool, and trendy beachside cafe in the 2000s. The owner was a South American Australian. He manned the coffee machine and took orders for coffee also. To the customer, he had no personality or sense of humor and would not speak unless spoken to. But to his staff and friends, he was a warm-hearted, intelligent, funny, fair, generous, and honest guy. Here are some quotes I can remember from him, all uttered with no expression on his face whatsoever, always.

Customer #1: “Could I have a double decaf, soy mochaccino, please?”

Boss: “Why?”

He would then just not make it, and when the customer came back asking where their coffee was, he would give their money back and point at the door.

Customer #2: “This latte isn’t hot enough. I asked for it to be very hot!”

Boss: “If you can hold it for five seconds, you can have it for free.”

They couldn’t.

Customer #3: “I’m not paying ten dollars for a pie.”

Boss: “You can have it for free if you promise never to come back.”

He delivered a plate of breakfast to an outdoor roadside table.

Customer #4: “I said no toast!

[Boss] took the toast from the plate and frisbeed it into the back of a passing truck.

His actions made no difference to the popularity of his business at all. Even the most entitled jerks weren’t game to take him on. He was a true legend in hospitality; I tip my hat.