Gift Carded And Dearly Departed

, , , , , , | Hopeless | September 20, 2013

(I am working as an assistant manager at a retail store. A customer comes in while it is slow, so I am able to pay a lot of attention to her, and find her exactly what she wants.)

Customer: “Is it okay to pay by gift card?”

Me: “Of course.”

(I start ringing her in.)

Customer: “I hate to use it, though.”

Me: “Oh, really? Why is that?”

Customer: “My mom gave it to me for my last birthday, and she passed away two months ago.”

(I pause for a moment to make eye contact with her.)

Me: “I’m so sorry to hear that. I lost my own mom a little over a year ago, so I know what you’re going through.”

Customer: “Oh! I guess you do understand, then. Does it get easier?”

Me: “No. I still miss her horribly, and still want to pick up the phone and call her every single day. But I suppose I’m not as raw as I was. You’ll get to that point, too, though you’ll always miss her.”

Customer: “Yeah…”

(I finish ringing her up, and swipe her gift card, which pays for everything. Afterwards, I bring her bag around the counter for her, and hand it to her.)

Customer: “Can I… Can I make a really strange request?”

Me: “Sure.”

Customer: “Can I keep the gift card?”

Me: “Oh, of course you can!”

(I hand it to her. She puts it back in the envelope that bears her name, and caresses it. I can see she’s on the verge of tears.)

Me: “Right before my mom died, she gave me the package she never sent me for my birthday, which had some Avon perfume in it. I like the perfume, but I hardly ever use it, because I don’t want to have to throw away one of the last things she ever gave me.”

Customer: “Oh, so you completely understand why I want to keep this!”

Me: *eyes filling with tears* “Oh, yes, ma’am, completely!”

(We wind up chatting for close to 45 minutes, sharing stories about our moms. By the end of it, we’re both crying openly, but they’re good tears.)

Customer: “I’ve taken up so much of your time; I’m sorry.”

Me: “No, don’t apologize. I’m so glad you came in, and that you were willing to share with me!”

Customer: “Can I… Can I hug you?”

Me: “Of course you can!”

(We hugged for a long time, with both of us still crying. She thanked me profusely, and vowed to come back and ask for me especially. I never did see her again, as I quit not long after that, but it was a wonderful experience. I hope wherever she is, her grief has become less raw than it was when I saw her. I’ll always, always remember her as being one of the best customers I ever had.)

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Not Quite Shuffled Off This Mortal Coil

, , | | Right | July 15, 2008

Customer: “My mother is dying at [Hospital]. She is prearranged through you.”

Me: “I see her file right here, sir.”

(I talk about our funeral home’s services.)

Customer: “Now, could you go ahead and run her obituary tomorrow?”

Me: *confused* “I thought she hadn’t passed away yet.”

Customer: “She hasn’t, but I would like to go ahead and run the obituary.”

Me: “Sir, I’m afraid we can’t do that. We need to wait until she actually dies.”

Customer: *unhappy* “Well, if you say so.”

(The woman did not die for another eight days.)

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Leonard Is Rolling Over In His Grave

, , , | | Right | June 27, 2008

(An older lady calls in to see if we will waive the late fee on her credit card. I see several previous refunds and decide not to refund unless it’s a bank error.)

Old Lady: “I’m afraid I forgot to send the payment. I just lost my husband, and it’s been such a stressful month for me.”

(I start to feel sorry for her and think maybe I can cut her a break. Then, I read the notes on the account more closely.)

Me: “Ma’am, what was your husband’s name?”

Old Lady: *sadly* “It was Leonard.”

Me: “Ma’am, I see that you faxed us Leonard’s death certificate two years ago, so you could remove his name from the account.”

Old Lady: *now indignant* “Well, it doesn’t get any easier!”

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