Friday, August 9, 2019

Hard To Say "I'm Sorry"? It Shouldn't Be

"What comes from the heart reaches the heart."
A couple of weeks ago I was standing in line at the store. There were several others ahead of me. I overheard the woman who was checking out asking about the limited number of clerks. We were in a long line and getting everyone through to checkout was taking a while. It seemed that most of us felt some degree of frustration about it, mostly because waiting is often caused by under-staffing.

One lane open, really?

I noticed that the clerk at the counter to my right left her post, picked up an item and got behind me in line. My first thought was that she had picked an untimely moment to decide to buy something instead of trying to accommodate the backup of customers. It was challenging for me not to ask so, I did: "What's the reason you're not helping?" She said "I am on my break." I said, in what I thought was a sort of humorous way "Not a good time for a break. Maybe clock back in?" She said "No." My eyebrows raised in surprise because I'm thinking more about work ethics than anything. Taking your break when the line is cleared is a smarter decision, but that's how I think. Wait to take your break, and wait on the people in line, maybe? This was a seasoned clerk who I felt should know this and know better.

Here's what happened next. The clerk at the counter where I was waiting decides to chime in. I am at least three customers down the line, but she made the decision that I needed to be "put in place" about my comments to her co-worker. She told me that once they clock-out for break that their system won't allow them to clock back in until the full fifteen minutes has expired. I said, as politely as I could "I didn't know that." She said "Well, now you do." She was really agitated about me saying something and she let me know it not only with the sound of her voice, but with her eyes. They were angry, with that "say something else" look in them. I didn't. I finally got to the front and she checked me out and I left. Yeah, WOW.

It stayed on my mind a little while afterwards because I didn't think that anything I had said seemed confrontational. Besides, I would never deliberately start a fight, it's just not my nature to do so. Well, yesterday I stopped at the same store again and as soon as I came in the door I heard a voice say "I need to apologize to you." I was moving quickly and it didn't even dawn on me that someone was talking to me directly. I picked the items I had come in for and got in line.

I was the only one at the counter this time and the clerk said to me, "I need to apologize to you." I looked confused for a few seconds, because I honestly didn't recognize her from my last visit. Then, my mind went back to the voice I had heard when I came through the door, but I was still not sure what she meant. So, I'm looking at her and I knew she could see that I didn't have any idea what she was talking about, then she said "I need to apologize for the way I talked to you the last time you were here. I'm sorry." It clicked! This is the clerk that delivered me all that attitude when I was last here! OMG! She's sorry?!

Well, yes, interestingly, she really was. It was written all over her face, and this time there was a distinctly different tone to her voice, so much so that it touched my heart and caused me to almost tear up. I looked at her expression for a few seconds, truly admiring how big of a person it takes to say those words. I went around the counter and gave her a big hug, and I let her know it was no big deal. I left.

I plan to stop back in and give her one of my books as a gift. I want her to have it. She doesn't know me, and obviously I don't know her, but here's what is for certain: we will always remember each other, and thank God that it will be in a good way. ~ S.R.F.

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