This year marks my 25th holiday season in the customer service/retail world. Over the past 25 years I have grown a thick skin. Flying flat irons no longer scare me… not an invitation to call my bluff. Snide remarks, insulting my intelligence and telling me “to make myself useful and throw this out” as you pass me the trash from your purse no longer offends me. I no longer take it personally when I hear the sighs and see the pouts when your favorite polish is out of stock.
I may have grown a thick skin, yet one action still cuts me to the quick. The look of awe in my customer’s eye when I take a moment to listen to them, the look of surprise they have when I remember something about them and ask about their lives. The real kicker – when their eyes well up when they say “I can’t believe you remembered. Thank you so much for that.”. The latter happened this morning. An elderly customer of the shop comes in every year at Christmas. She comes by to purchase gifts for her grand children’s Christmas socks (she refers to their Christmas Stockings as socks, something she called them when she was a girl). When we were walking up to the counter I said “this is a nice addition to your grandson’s Christmas sock.” to which she said “how did you know that?”. I told her I remembered her stories from last year, and it was nice to see her again. She leaned on the counter, her eyes started to glisten a little and she proceeded to tell me that she had lost her husband 2 years ago and was feeling lonesome and forgotten. We ended up chatting for 5 minutes about her hometown growing up and her Christmas memories as a girl. She wished me a Merry Christmas and left smiling and giggling about Christmas.
The moral of today’s tale – be kind. A little kindness goes a long way. Your kindness may be the only glimpse of hope someone will see today, or this week, hell…this year. Someone may be feeling forgotten and your smile makes them feel whole. Someone may be taking their loved one to the hospital and you holding the door open for them gives them one less thing to have to do that day. Giving your spot in the grocery line to the woman with the screaming toddler may give her the break she needs that day to get through until bedtime. Offering to help the elderly carry their packages to their car may give them hope that they are worth the bother. One of my favorite carols says it best…
“…and when you walk down the street, say hello to friends you know and everyone you meet.”