So the other night I had to return to Kohl's because two gift cards I had purchased mysteriously disappeared. I think they never made it into my bag....but no one turned them in at the register....so who knows.
Anyway, on the way there I had a catch-up call with a dear friend. This (anonymous by request) friend and I caught up, had a few laughs, and then she delivered some news. Some health news. Some news that makes you stop and think. It is treatable. It has a great prognosis. But it is one of those moments where you stop and say, "Damn, and I was worried about x,y,z....let's stop that and just think positive thoughts about her and about how lucky I am today."
I sat in the parking lot with the engine running and the snow flakes flying and listened to her relay the details. I offered my love and encouragement and I was happy to truthfully say I knew everything would be fine...but I also knew she was, of course, going to be anxious until I was proven right. Being an anxious person myself, I offered her my ear (or shoulder) for any moments of anxiety she has in the future. "I'm good," I said, "at turning these anxious moments into something you can laugh at."
After nearly an hour of talking, we finally hung up the call, I turned off the engine and walked into Kohl's to handle my missing gift cards. I walked past the hordes of bargain hunters and the messy displays and all the way to the service desk in the back. A very efficient woman, but only one, was handling a line of people waiting for their special requests for returns, exchanges, bill payment, questions, coupon extensions, etc. I waited and listened to the heavy sighs that exhaled from the people around me. Sighs meant more for the rest of us to understand their frustration than for the simple venting of CO2. I listened to how people snapped at the girl behind the counter who was actually very proficient at her job and working quickly. I listened to how unreasonable demands were met with competent and generous offers.
Your Kohl's cash expired two months ago but you still want to use it? Sure, here's a new certificate.
Your card is being refused because you haven't paid your bill? Well, let's process a minimum payment so you can go spend the maximum balance.
You washed this shirt in hot water and it shrunk? No problem, we'll exchange it for a bigger size for you.
I mean Kohl's could not have done much more to appease these people, but I got the impression they all want what they wanted...and they wanted it RIGHT NOW. With no waiting. And they STILL weren't going to be all that happy about it.
When it was my turn, my mind was still back on that phone call. I was already thinking of travel plans and arrangements and how I could be at my friend's side when she was having the necessary procedure. If she didn't need me at her side, I was thinking about how I could distract her with little funny stories or gifts that would keep her in her natural positive sunny state and help her with her recovery. But, I woke myself up to the present and smiled at the harried Kohl's employee and told her my story.
I purchased two gift cards, here is the receipt. When I got home and opened my bag - they were not there. I called the store and they told me I could get new cards if I came in. Here I am.
She thought a moment, reached under the counter and pulled out a binder. She then paged the store for someone to help as she knew this would tie her up for more than the average 1 minute she was spending per transaction before I got there. The binder was full of multi-colored sheets. Probably the FAQs and answers for every possible customer situation. She found what she needed, punched a bunch of numbers into one computer and then another, made phone calls to central office for codes, etc.
Behind me I heard the sighs increasing in volume and voracity. I remained calm and quiet. THIS is what I'm going to stress about? Not after that phone call. Give me a break. The Kohl's associate continued to solve my problem, which required a manager signature. When he arrived at the desk he proceeded to snidely inform her she did it all wrong. She pointed to the binder and showed him evidence she was right and he said, "Nope. Re-do it!" He walked away, as self-important as could be and she turned to me and exclaimed in frustration, "YOU SHOULD HAVE YELLED AT HIM! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL HIM YOU'D BEEN WAITING FOR 20 MINUTES AND HE SHOULD JUST SIGN IT ALREADY AND LET YOU GO???"
I looked at her and smiled. I said, "It honestly never occurred to me to yell at him tonight. There are just too many more important things in life than getting into a fight over a gift card." She stopped and smiled back and quietly agreed. She made a call, confirmed she had been right in her process. Gave me my new cards and told me she would take care of the necessary signatures and there was no need for me to wait any longer. By this time, all the other customers had been managed and departed, so I asked her to ring up my one tiny purchase.
What was my purchase? A little card for my friend....a card about perspective. And together that Kohl's associate and I smiled at the card's message and took a little of that perspective home ourselves.