Only a few years ago, I had just about had it with my cable company. The service would go in and out, I wouldn’t receive emails and sometimes I’d sit for days waiting for the promised return to service. When I’d get frustrated, I’d reach for the phone, knowing that I’d get caught in the circular abyss of the “press one” automated customer service line.
After one particularly frustrating event, I’d finally worked with the company to resolve the situation after weeks of trying. And one day, I received a phone call, an actual “voice” asking me how my service was and how I felt I’d been treated.
As I described the events to this voice, I couldn’t help but notice that her responses were kind and she actually seemed to understand my frustration. And suddenly, the whole situation seemed absurdly funny and I began to laugh. Well, giggle, actually. My customer service rep started to laugh, too and we both began to commiserate about our frustrations, our week of craziness and how, in the grand scheme of things, we simply had to laugh at these little things. In the midst of our burst of giggles, it seemed we could both feel the pressures of our lives just bubbling away.
I felt like I was talking to an old friend, and as we were saying goodbye, I finally learned that my customer service rep had a name — Rose.
Today, while cleaning out a cache of old mail that I’d kept around for awhile, I found a letter that I’d received from Rose, shortly after that conversation. “Mrs. Swain,” she wrote, “I simply wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed our conversation this past week. I had had a difficult week and just feeling the relief of being able to laugh with a kind voice made everything so much better. It was truly wonderful talking with you….”
I’ve kept that letter for years now, just as a reminder that those who are in customer service positions are, well, people, too. And that I actually can help affect someone else’s day, too, by realizing that sometimes a little bit of laughter at our silly day-to-day frustrations can end up bringing us both joy.
We all need hugs, even if they are verbal or in a piece of mail. Those are the ones that might even last for years.