Kindness Knows No Language Barrier

, , , , , | Hopeless Right | January 10, 2019

I’m a customer in a pharmacy in Berlin, behind an older man. I don’t speak German as I’m just a tourist, but he is very obviously driving the cashier crazy, pointing to everything five times and asking the price, wasting her time by debating the price, raising his voice, and flailing his arms about. Even though I can’t understand a word he is saying, his rudeness is clear! The cashier is doing a great job of staying calm, but he is visibly upsetting her.

When he finally leaves — some five minutes later, only having purchased one thing — I approach the register, smile, and roll my eyes. As she serves me, she chats away about the customer — made obvious from the things she points to while talking — and it’s clear from the relief on her face that she just needs to unload on someone who understands. I smile and nod and laugh when she laughs, and say, “Ja,” a couple of times, and she seems much calmer and happy by the end of the transaction.

Dear cashier, even though I didn’t understand a word you said, our conversation was wonderful and friendly; we both speak the universal language of “hating bad customers”!

Needs To Work Harder At This Whole “Work” Thing

, , , , , | Working | January 10, 2019

Recently we had an intern who was almost finished with his studies; all he needed to graduate was this internship.

On his first day, he arrived an hour late, but as it was his first day and he had a semi-acceptable excuse, we cut him some slack. He proceeded with his day by dashing his tasks off and browsing the Internet instead of telling us he was finished.

On his second day, he hadn’t arrived at 11:00 am; he was scheduled to start at 8:00 am. I told our boss, and he asked me to send him straight to him. He arrived mid-afternoon and our boss had a few words with him about his work ethic.

On the third day, he didn’t arrive at all. When I told our boss, he allowed me to call him. His explanation was — I wish I was kidding — “[Boss] told me if I come in late tomorrow again I’d better not come at all. So… see you tomorrow.”

He seemed genuinely confused that he was fired during that phone call. From his point of view, he just did what he was asked. I still feel sorry for him, as I’m not sure he was able to graduate after failing his internship. But, dear Lord in heaven, how can anyone be so oblivious that he doesn’t understand that working two to three, or even zero hours a day when you’re paid for eight is unacceptable?

Voicing Your Concerns

, , , , , , | Right | January 10, 2019

I was working at a call center for a few months after getting my BA. I had a few calls that were really bad; I worked in billing for a major cable and Internet provider, and people would call to yell if their bill went up even a dime. One story sticks out to me, though.

This man called in to go over the charges on his account to see if he could get any refunds.

I pulled up his account, and there were a little over $700 in charges for on-demand pornography. As per the company policy about on-demand movies, we have to go over every title and tell them how long it was watched for — if they didn’t watch more than the first few minutes, we can give them a refund.

I, a woman, had to read out all the titles of the dozens of porn flicks this man had downloaded — they had all been watched in entirety. There were some pretty racy titles. It was hard for me to keep a straight face and a steady voice, but I pulled through! It was a slow day, so my coworkers were gathered around to listen in on this fiasco. I don’t blame them.

The customer was nice and polite throughout the call, but he was obviously breathing pretty heavily, grunting occasionally, too.

When I had finished, he said, “Thank you… You have a very sexy voice.” I didn’t know how to respond to that, and I was already pretty flustered.

When the call finally ended — he didn’t get a single refund and paid the bill in full — I pulled up the notes section on his account. Apparently, he does this every month.

Driving Home The Kindness, Part 15

, , , , | Hopeless | January 9, 2019

A few years ago I was working at a dealership for a manufacturer that produces notoriously terrible cars. Our service department was open on Christmas Eve, though with shorter hours than normal. I was hoping to get out a bit extra-early — which I did! — we booked light, but of course, we kept hoping that unexpected cars wouldn’t show up. Around noon, a car without an appointment pulled into the driveway, and when I saw who was getting out I thought, “Crap! Why is she here?”

She was a customer I knew well: an older Russian lady who was perfectly nice, but paranoid and oversensitive about her car. We’d had quite a few occurrences of her coming for “symptoms” that were not, in fact, actual issues but just the normal operation of a crappy sort of car. Helping her also tended to be rather time-consuming as English was not her first language. I was dreading finding out why she had pulled in.

She came to bring me a box of chocolates and thank me for being so helpful to her over the past year, taking the time to explain her car’s idiosyncrasies and make her feel safe driving it. She said she knew she could be difficult, but that she really appreciated knowing that I was there to help her out and keep her mind at ease.

The gesture had a big impact: I’d been getting jaded, but she really helped me remember why I love my job, and how even the frustrating moments can be part of a rosier big picture. I continued to work with her, but dreaded seeing her far less as I was able to remember how our visits could be rewarding for both her and me. A year and a half later, when her lease ended and she turned the car in, she brought me her favorite snack from her home country, gave me a big tearful hug, and told me if the car wasn’t so terrible she would’ve bought out the lease so she could keep coming to see me for service. I don’t know what she’s driving now, but I hope it’s taking good care of her!

Driving Home The Kindness, Part 14
Driving Home The Kindness, Part 13
Driving Home The Kindness, Part 12

Family’s Enough To Make You Sick

, , , , , , , | Related | January 9, 2019

My twin sister and I were at our much-older stepbrother’s birthday party along with our dad. The food consisted of a BBQ outside, which our stepbrother manned, and a buffet inside. It was excellent food, but that night my dad, my sister, and I had food poisoning, my sister getting the worst of it to the extent that she spent the night curled up on the bathroom floor in pain.

My dad called my stepbrother’s wife that morning and found out that everyone had had it, including our stepsister’s one-year-old and our stepbrother’s eighty-year-old father-in-law with dementia, who ended up in hospital. My stepbrother’s wife apologised profusely every time we saw her for the next six months, as she did all the cooking that could have spoiled, and clearly felt very guilty about it.

My sister was very curious to find out what caused it and worked out that no two people had eaten exactly the same thing apart from me and her, and yet we all had it. I assumed it was going to be one of those things we never found out, until the following birthday party a year later, when my stepbrother made a joke about how even the dog got sick, explaining that it had vomited on the morning of the party and he’d cleaned it up.

Everyone one by one remembered that he’d manned the BBQ, which we’d all eaten from. He suddenly looked very sheepish, and his wife was absolutely furious that he’d let her think she’d put her father in the hospital. I seriously don’t know how it didn’t occur to him that dog vomit and food weren’t a good mix and were the probable cause of the food poisoning.

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