I was alone as "head cashier" for a couple hours today, and early during my post a considerable line kept forming, receding, and forming again. At one point when the line was particularly long, a woman set her purchases down in front of me and mentioned that she also wanted a certain e-reader device. I tried to explained to her as kindly as I could that we had a digital section for that (just a few paces away), and if she didn't mind she could have the customer service people get the digital person for her so he could give her exactly what she was looking for. But after realizing that she'd have to get back in line afterward, and incensed that I wouldn't just magically produce the e-reader from my pockets ("You can't just hand it to me?"), she made it clear that she definitely minded. She snatched her purchases back and stomped off with intentionally pointed silence, a grimace, and what appeared to be a faint eye-roll.
Eh well. Another rude one. That's unfortunate. Next! That's all I thought about it in the moment that passed between the lady grumping away and the next costumer stepping up for their turn.
Some minutes later, after the line had dissipated and the digital guy had rung up the lady for the device she'd wanted, she came back up to my register to speak to me even though I was already busy helping another woman. Oh. no. What could she want now, round two? To rub my unhelpfullness in my face? Jesus be nerves of steel, an internal hug, and a box of tissues for the ride home! I know I chose to work in retail, but I can only take so much in one day! I was prepared to get chewed out. But then the lady, now in a reconciliatory tone, said something that shocked me and almost made me cry. And I paraphrase:
"Excuse me. I just wanted to apologize for my attitude earlier. I am so sorry. I was really jerky and it was so uncalled for. You didn't deserve that. You are wonderful and appreciated, and I just wanted you to know that. Thank you so much."
And as annoyed as I'd been at her rudeness, I couldn't even fault her for it anymore. Whatever that lady had been going through today, she got over herself and took the time to come back, recognize her wrong out loud, and apologize to me. In front of other customers! So I told her that I appreciated and accepted her apology, and encouraged her to have a great day (as I tell all my customers). All the while simultaneously on the verge of tears and wondering if the sky was about to fall, because things like this never happen in the store.
Y'all, I'm telling you. Humility is so becoming, and it can truly work wonders. Try it sometime and always remember to be kind! :)