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Making the Difference in Someone's Day

Even when we try not to, what is happening in our lives at any given moment can impact how we treat others who are around is. We often tend to focus on our own woes so much that we become blinded to the troubles and needs of others. Yet, virtually everyone has their own problems and in nearly every case, a random act of kindness or a simple kind word can make a world of difference in someone’s day.

I remember well, one such event. It wasn’t directed at me, but it left a lasting impression on me and it isn’t unusual for me to reflect on it, though it happened well over a decade ago.

To set the scene, I’d gone to Walmart to purchase a few items. They were out of one particular item that was listed at a ridiculously good price. So I went to the customer service desk to get a rain-check slip so I could get it when it was again in stock. What I witnessed was while I was standing in line at the customer service desk.

The gentleman who was in line in front of me was highly agitated and grumbling under his breath. At first, I thought that he was merely impatient. The girl behind the customer service desk was doing her best to help everyone in a timely fashion, but it was a huge task. She was extremely busy.

It was her demeanor, though, that impressed me. 

She looked to be in her very early 20’s and although she was harried, she greeted each customer with a genuine smile and a hello. She talked to each as if they were the only people in the store and as if she had come to work that day specifically to see to that person’s needs. The way she spoke and the gestures she made showed that none of it was fake. She honestly did care.

Having been involved in customer service for well over 35 years, I can say for certain that this sort of attitude is rare and special. 

The steaming man finally approached the girl and she greeted him as warmly as she had everyone else. He instantly launched into a loud tirade. He’d purchased a device, a toaster I think, for his wife. When he got it home, he found that the device was broken, probably during shipping. 

The girl tried to apologize on behalf of Walmart and offered to have the item replaced or to refund his money, but by then, the man was on a perfectly good vent and wasn’t about to stop. Using language that would have made a dock worker blush, he berated Walmart, the managers, the customers (?), and even the girl. The girl took it all, the genuine smile never leaving her face, and when I started to make a move to intervene, she stopped me with a look at a slight shake of her head.

Eventually, the man wound down and accepted a replacement, storming away and still muttering about the inconvenience of it all.

I stepped forward, but the first thing I did was to compliment the young woman on her professionalism and how she’d handled the situation, with understanding and kindness. She smiled, shrugged, and her words burned into my memory.

“He was just having a bad day. We all have them. He needed to vent to someone about something. It didn’t matter what. So he vented at me, a complete stranger, about something he knew we’d fix before he even got here. I would far rather have him yell and scream at me, someone he doesn’t even know than to go home and take his frustration out on his wife and kids. Now, how can I help you today?”

In a world where 99% of people in the girl’s position would have lashed out or called management to deal with it, the girl’s consideration wasn’t for herself. It was for the man and his family. 

Her genuine kindness still impacts me today. She made a difference.

  • Question of

    Do you think that you could have taken the verbal abuse without lashing back or calling for help?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I would have refused to serve the guy
  • Question of

    Do you think that the girl went way beyond giving good customer service?

    • Yes
    • No
    • She was just doing what she was hired to do
  • Question of

    Do you think that the girl made a positive impact on the man and on others?

    • Yes
    • No
    • It probably wasn’t noticed by anyone else


What do you think?

12 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. Having spent decades in Customer Service as a supervisor and having taken every kind of abuse, I know that this girl would get an A+ in my book. The louder someone would yell, the quieter I would speak. Eventually that takes the wind out of someone’s sail; and they calm down. We need more of that kind of attitude behind the customer service counters.

  2. I know that helping others is important. I always try. I do find that sometimes people break help into categories.

    Helping the homeless – helping those impacted by disasters etc

    helping customers

    In doing that, there is the behavior you would never do int he first, that is sometimes accepted in dealing with people in the second.


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