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Positive, feel-good stories

Accidentally Encouraging, But Encouraging Nonetheless

, , , , , , | Working | November 29, 2021

I have been working at a call center for a phone company for a few months, mostly taking calls from very unhappy people who haven’t paid their phone bills in months and have had their lines suspended.

My manager keeps track of various stats we have, including results from customer surveys. One of those survey questions asks about whether or not the individual felt like a valued customer by the end of the call. My manager has told me all my stats are great but I could probably increase the customer value result. They recommend that I throw in a line during every call that’s something along the lines of, “As you’re a valued customer, I’ll be happy to help.”

Personally, I find lines like that can sound really disingenuous and I hate saying them, but I try to throw it in whenever I remember to. This call happens a few days after my manager advised me to say the line more often.

The lady on the line was calling for help making a payment plan as she had been hit hard by the health crisis and was not going to be able to pay her bill on time this month. The call was going smoothly, she was very kind and apologetic for not being able to pay in full right away, and I could tell she was really stressed about finances. 

Caller: “I’m just so embarrassed. I never miss payments. I really hate having to do this.”

Me: “Hey, I get it. The health crisis has hit everyone really hard, so we totally understand.”

I remembered about the valued customer line at this point and thought I might be able to work it into the conversation in a genuine way.

What I tried to say:

Me: “I can tell from your account that you’ve been with us a long time and you’ve always had a great record in the past. You’re a valued customer and I’ll definitely help to get something worked out for you,”

What I actually said:

Me: “I can tell from your account that you’ve been with us a long time and you’ve always had a great record in the past. You’re valuable—”

Then, my brain realized that I had misspoken and just shut down entirely, ending the sentance very short.

When the caller responded, she sounded like she was on the brink of tears.

Caller: “Oh, thank you. It’s really nice to hear someone say that. I really appreciate it. It’s been really hard these past few months, and it’s nice to be reminded that I’m valuable.”

Me: “Uh, no problem. Now let’s take a look to see what we can do to help.”

We got the caller set up with a plan and the call was coming to an end.

Me: “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Caller: “Oh, no, dear. You’ve been wonderful. Thank you so much, and just remember, you’re valuable, too!”

The customer hung up at that point. I spent the next few minutes laughing at myself for screwing up my words, but I was glad I could help and that my messed-up words had helped comfort her. It was honestly one of the most heartwarming calls I took the entire time I worked that job.

Soothing The Limping Cat, The Barking Dog, And The Standoffish Horse

, , , , , , | Friendly | November 26, 2021

I’m the author of Soothing The Skittish Cat. The cat in that story passed away at eighteen years old, not nearly as skittish as she was when I met her. One day, our downstairs neighbor knocks on our door, and my wife answers.

Neighbor: “Hey, is your wife home?”

Wife: “Yeah, what’s up?”

Neighbor: “My cat’s limping and he won’t let me near him, so I think he’s hurt. He likes her. Do you think she’d come take a look?”

I go downstairs and the cat limps right up to me. I immediately notice what looks like a bite mark on his hind leg.

Me: “Ah, okay. You need to get him to the vet. It looks like something bit him and it’s infected.”

I scoop the cat up into my arms and deposit him into the carrier the neighbor has, the cat purring the entire time.

Neighbor: “Thank you. I knew you could get him to behave.”

Me: “You’re welcome but… why me? He is your cat. Sure, he likes me, but…”

Neighbor: “Oh, he only lets you pick him up. Sort of like how [Neighbor #2]’s dog only lets you walk up to her porch without barking his head off. I’ve lived here for ten years and he still barks at me. You moved in last year and he’ll walk right up to you.”

Wife: “And my mom’s dog will literally only listen to you. You literally trained her because she wouldn’t listen to Mom at first. And that horse we saw at the state fair that apparently doesn’t let people touch him but wouldn’t let you stop scratching him, then he put his head on your shoulder and went to sleep — even the owner was amazed.”

Neighbor: *To my wife* “I’m pretty sure your wife is a witch.”

Wife: “She has a lot of familiars. You should have seen [Skittish Cat] when she first moved in with me; she got right in [My Name]’s lap on day one.”

The cat was fine after a round of antibiotics but I had to coax him out of the carrier when the neighbor brought him home. Apparently, I’ve been designated the friendly neighborhood witch!

Soothing The Skittish Cat

Putting Some Joy On The Table

, , , , | Right | November 25, 2021

I am at a fancy seafood bistro where you seat yourself and you order your food from a series of people in a line, but FANCY. Most people there are in business-casual clothes or suits.

Even though you seat yourself and collect your own food, it’s still kind of fancy, so I’m not sure if I am supposed to throw my own trash away; I haven’t seen a single trash can. I see a member of staff.

Me: “Excuse me. Do I clean my own table, or do you do it?”

The staff member looks like she is about to cry with joy.

Staff Member: “Thank you! Thank you for asking. Thank you! It’s my job to clean up after the customers.

At first, I wondered why she was so happy; I wasn’t creating any more work for her if I left my stuff there. Later, I realized that all I really did was treat her like a human being and assumed I would be cleaning up my own plate.

It was such a small thing. I was in no way making her job easier, but I had TRIED, which apparently is more than most people would ever do.

There’s No Watering Down This Important Lesson

, , , , , | Friendly | November 25, 2021

Growing up, I can remember having more sleepovers than nights I slept alone. I thought I was super popular. What I didn’t know then was that my parents were providing food and shelter to some of my less fortunate classmates.

One evening, when I was eight or so, one of my classmates was over, doing homework, when we got hungry. I was allowed to use the stove under supervision.

Me: “Mom, can we make grilled cheese and tomato soup?”

Classmate: “Yeah! I’ll help.”

Mom: “Okay, let’s go.”

I started buttering the bread and putting the cheese on, while [Classmate] opened a can of condensed tomato soup. He dumped the contents in a pan and then filled the can with water. 

Me: “[Classmate], what are you doing?”

Classmate: “Making soup.”

Me: “With water?”

Mom: “Honey, let him make soup his way. It’s okay, [Classmate].”

[Classmate] dumped the first can of water in the pan and then filled it a second time.

Me: “Mom, what—”

Mom: “[My Name], we are trying something different tonight.”

Classmate: “This is how my mom makes soup.”

Dad: “Do you have a big family, [Classmate]?”

Classmate: “Yeah, I have six brothers and sisters.”

I’m an only child.

Me: “What?! Why?”

Dad: “That’s a lot of siblings! What do you like to play?”

[Classmate] pours yet another can of water in the soup.

Classmate: “Oh, we have Monopoly and cards and stuff.”

Me: “[Classmate]! It’s one can of milk, not—”

Mom: “[My Name]. Stop.”

Dad: “[Classmate] is our guest. We will eat what he wants to eat.”

Me: “Okay.”

[Classmate] ate three sandwiches and two bowls of soup. I remember wondering how such a small boy could eat so much, but my parents never batted an eye and I knew better than to say anything.

It took me years to understand how privileged I was. [Classmate] stayed over a few more times before I realized why he was there. When I did, I stopped complaining about his soup and thanked him for sharing his family recipe with me.

Wholesome Customer Alert! The World Is Ending!

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: PBandJellyfishx | November 24, 2021

I’m a manager at a popular sandwich shop that gets stupid busy during the lunch rush. I come in for my shift mid-crazy rush and basically help put out fires. The ticket machine is printing a list orders that has now reached the floor, and the oven is more overflowed than the shop is with customers that keep pouring in.

We don’t have a fryer, so side orders of onion rings, fries, etc., have to be put through the oven multiple times to be crispy. The wait time is over twenty minutes, and after about two hours, it finally calms down.

Then, someone hands me the phone because a customer is asking to speak to the owner — not the manager or shift leads. Sigh. I literally hold the phone away from my ear as she starts screaming at me.

Caller: “My daughter was waiting for thirty minutes for a phone order! You are a terrible manager! You should be ashamed of yourself for letting it get so busy that the wait times aren’t what we were told.”

She goes on for a few minutes, belittling me in any way she can.

Me: “Ma’am, she wanted four sandwiches and three side orders, and that takes a little more time. What can I offer you as compensation? I can offer you a refund or some free sandwiches.”


I agree to give it to her.

I’m dreading the bad Yelp review that’s probably going to follow, saying goodbye to any chance of a monthly bonus and another bad review for our store. Customers like her happen, but I try not to let it bother me. Being in food service for as long as I have, when people are like that, they just want to put you down.

I’m opening the next morning and I get another call asking for the manager. It’s the lady from yesterday. Expecting to hear her say she got in contact with corporate or she’s still not happy, I’m in shock when she says:

Caller: “I want to apologize. I had a really bad day yesterday and what I did was completely uncalled for. I want to make up for it.”

Me: “Ma’am, just you taking time out of your day to apologize is enough.”

But she insisted on ordering a sandwich, not picking it up, and tipping $50. She said that was her way of buying me lunch. In all my years of working food service, I’d never had an angry customer apologize.

At the end of the day, even though we are behind a counter doing you a service, we are still humans with feelings. Thank you, [Caller], for remembering that. To be honest, your apology was more than enough for me.