My job requires me to do field visits in customers’ homes. I get to meet a lot of people doing this job. I also get to meet a lot of great dogs. I get great ideas for redecorating and landscaping, too. I’m out in the field and I’m not chained to a desk. Yes, it’s hot and sweaty during the summers but the good far outweighs the bad.
If you’ve ever met me in person, then you know my online persona is pretty much the same as my “real life” persona. I like to laugh and cut up and I think I’m pretty easy to get along with. These are all qualities that help me in my job, and sometimes I rely heavily upon my personality to turn a customer around. It’s sometimes necessary to do this when you work for a major utility, one that is considered the big, bad monopoly, always ripping people off and stealing their money. Never mind the fact that we only bill a customer for the power that they have actually used. But we won’t have that discussion right now.
Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny and breezy day with skies so blue they hurt your eyes.
I had an appointment scheduled with a woman living in a condo that is filled predominantly with elderly people. As I walked up to her condo, I heard her yelling through the screen door that she was going to warn me, she was not happy.
This came out of her mouth before I could even say hello.
The situation continued to escalate, with this woman yelling at me and accusing me and the company I work for of stealing her money. We were all crooks and she wasn’t going to pay her bills. I proceeded to use documentation to try to explain her bills and payments to her. She accused me of lying. I then used her own bank statements that she provided to show her that she was not, in fact, paying as much as she said she was.
And with every shred of evidence I presented, this woman got nastier and nastier.
I eventually just walked out. I had to. She was reaching the point where I thought she might actually get so frustrated that she might strike me. And I was growing more and more angry with her and I knew there was nothing I could say or do that would salvage the situation.
None of my charm and wit were going to work in this case.
My hands shook for an hour after leaving her house. In the seven years I’ve been doing this job, I have never had someone talk to me that way and treat me so badly.
There was no turning her frown upside down.
Eventually I shook it off. My Coke slurpee from 7-Eleven certainly helped.
Today I had an audit scheduled with an elderly couple.
And they were two of the most delightful people I’ve had the privilege of dealing with. He was as sweet as could be and she was so loving towards him. She even waited until he was well out of earshot before telling me that he suffered from dementia and might seem a bit confused.
I went out of my way to do everything I could to help this little couple, even offering to change their a/c filter for them. I couldn’t do enough for them! I probably would have scrubbed their floor if they’d asked!
As I was leaving, the husband told me not to leave yet, they wanted me to know how much they appreciated my help. We are not allowed to accept tips of any kind so I was preparing myself to decline but then the wife pressed something into my hand. I looked down to see three homemade dishcloths that she had just finished knitting.
They are just gorgeous.
After I left I started thinking about how lucky I was to meet them this morning, and how much they did to turn my attitude around after that nasty old bat yesterday.
It made me realize that I do not ever want to become that woman from yesterday. Something tells me if she was willing to start yelling at me through the screen door before so much as a “how do you do” then that probably wasn’t the first time she’d been so nasty.
My Grandma on my Dad’s side was like that. She was what we like to call “ornery.” I’d like to blame it on a generational thing but the couple this morning prove that it wasn’t a generation gap. She was just plain mean. I don’t know what happened in her life to make her that way. I just know how it felt to suffer because of it.
I think that becoming a delightful little old lady takes practice. And that practice is simple. Each and every day find something to smile about. Look for the good in people. Help others. Be generous. And even though you are undoubtedly going to have bad things happen to you, don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t get bogged down in the unpleasant details of this gift of life.
Be happy. Not happy every minute, that’s an unrealistic expectation. Be happy every opportunity you get.
And just keep practicing being happy.
Practice may not always make you perfect but if you practice being happy it just might make you a delightful old person.