I spent a big chunk of my workday yesterday solving customer service issues. In doing so, I was on the phone with various customers in several states, each with differing dilemmas.
By and large, the customers thanked me when I solved their problems. Even when I wasn’t able to completely resolve an issue, I was thanked for trying. And I did try. I did everything in my power to locate a missing item, solve a forwarding mystery, and resolve neighborly complaints.
I was constantly thanked for being friendly, for being the calm voice of reason, and for being genuinely interested in why the customer had called.
One guy told me that he’d talked to five different people before me and that I was the only one who had taken him seriously. I could hear the gratitude in his voice, and it made the rest of the day swim by more smoothly.
Until the woman who threatened me with God. When I couldn’t fix her irresolvable issue, which was largely created by her own actions, I was informed with every ounce of faith she could muster that one day the world would end and I would be judged harshly for my inability to help her.
I didn’t know what to say. “Yes ma’am” would have been inviting trouble, or at the very least, condoning it when it finally befell me at Earth’s demise. “No ma’am” would have seemed disrespectful and argumentative in the face of the ultimate threat.
I opted for “I’m sorry, ma’am”, thinking it a safe response where something, anything, was required. I received an entirely different tirade, one filled with hatred and animosity for me, my workplace, my superiors, and I think my ancestors. I’m not certain of this last part – I think she was speaking in tongues when she hurled it.
I finally opted for silence. When she had run her course, she bid me a good day and hung up.
“You too, ma’am,” I whispered into the disconnected phone.
And I really, honestly, and truly wanted her to have a good day, even if she couldn’t hear my wish.
But I don’t think she did. She didn’t strike me as the kind of person who has good days often.
My prayer offered up for her would be far different, far kinder, than the curse she hurled at me in the name of God. Mine for her would be simply to find peace.
I think she needs it.