You Can Learn A Heap About (Yourself And) Humanity At The Customer Service Counter


A little boy at the Verizon store was enamored with a lawn mower toy — Vroom Vroom!  It kicked up quite a ruckus when he pushed it. I don’t know if his father brought it for him or if Verizon provided it, or the little boy insisted on bringing it, but it was somebody’s brilliant idea.

This little guy loved his toy and traveled far and wide while his father shopped. He was all on board with this lawn mower and was testing to see what it was really made of.

He ran at full tilt (yes, that was exciting!) He walked slowly, shoving it forward and back in forceful bursts. He stopped still and surveyed the room like an important executive. Maybe he was checking the periphery, planning his next route through Verizon customers sitting and waiting their turn.

A couple of times, he picked it up as high as he could and banged the front edge of it on the floor with all his strength. The lawn mower didn’t seem to mind. What a perfect pair.

What I find most interesting about customer service situations is that only rarely do people look up from doing nothing. In their own separate world, they don’t seem to notice anyone else, not even a little boy with a loud toy.


Lindsay was helping me and she was wonderful. She said it would cost $10 to transfer the information from my old phone to the new one. I was overjoyed and happy to pay it. I thought $10 to do what she was about to do sounded like the deal of the century.

The man next to me at the customer service counter was totally disgusted with his un-charge-able phone and clearly wanted to throw it (along with the folks he had to talk to about his phone) over the nearest cliff. He was even more upset with the idea of paying $40 for a new battery, which could have solved all of his problems, theoretically at least.

He and I had been chatting casually, in the pauses between talking to our service person, about phones and life. We were standing there waiting, after all, within a couple of feet of each other, with nothing else to do. This grumpy guy wanted to talk, so I talked, hoping to keep things light as a fairy’s left wing.

I thought maybe I could throw a lifeline of kindness and calm his way, but he wasn’t having any of it.

Imagine that.

This is no different than what a lot of us do when we try to talk ourselves out of being annoyed. One part of us realizes fully that we could be calm and take things in stride, even with THIS THING going on.

This is our wise half.

The other part of us doesn’t care about giving up awful thinking and just wants to be right about how bad things are. (Yep, been there, done that.)

This is our not so wise half.


When the positive and efficient young man went to find a replacement battery, I suggested to Mr. Grumphead, “You know, you could get a battery or a new phone on Ebay, probably for less, if that would make a difference.”

Mr. Grumphead said, “Oh, I don’t like Ebay at all. I don’t have good luck with Ebay. Maybe I just buy the wrong things, but it has never turned out good for me.”

(Gosh. What a perfect answer from him!)

I thought about the sheer delight of saying, “Maybe it hasn’t turned out well because you’re too darn mad at the world when you order online.”

But instead I said with a smile, “Oh, heavens, well, in that case, definitely don’t do Ebay! Gosh, no!”


When the young man came back and said he didn’t have a matching battery in stock and would have to order one, Mr. Grumphead said to forget the battery and “oh, just sell me a new phone, the cheapest one you’ve got.”

I have no idea how Mr. Grumphead’s phone saga turned out in the end, only that as I was departing, he accusing the kind, young guy helping him of overcharging him for the possible new phone (undeserved, I’m sure!)


You can lead a horse to water… and nope, you can’t make him do anything once he gets there. Even if there’s a solution that works, you can’t make him take it and go home with a working phone or be happy about it.

Don’t try to solve a problem while you’re in it. It’s not a good idea to make happy (not to mention workable) suggestions to someone bent on having a bad day.

The people at Verizon must surely be certified saints.

You never know what happened to Mr. Grumphead on the way to the phone store. You don’t know what’s going on in his life that makes him un-satisfy-able. You don’t know how he got the bee in his bonnet. You don’t know if his wife died three weeks ago, he lost his fortune recently, or ate a bad biscuit this morning at his local breakfast hangout.

You just have no idea.

You can’t be in charge of the energy coming from him, but you can be in charge of what’s coming from you. Stay light, stay happy, it serves this situation and well, the world.

You can be entertained by humans, or you can fall in the bucket of trouble right along with them. I admired Mr. Grumphead’s ability to stay unhappy no matter what. He was 100% committed and there is something to be said for that. He did a superior job of coming up with self-created struggles and his steadfastness was astonishing.

(Of course, there is the fact that I could get into my car and drive away and never listen to him again.)


Things turned out really well for me. The tablet my Verizon service person, Lindsey, was using refused to charge me the $10 for transferring the information from my old phone to my new one. It just wouldn’t do it! She laughed it off and said she wasn’t going to worry about that one bit.

When small things like that happen to me, I think it’s the Universe giving me a nod for something or other.

What do you suppose that could be?

Maybe it was a thumbs up for enjoying little Mr. Vroom, Vroom and for appreciating and loving big Mr. Grumphead no matter what he was doing.

After all, the world can always use a little more love.



In Care of Relationships, Terri Crosby

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