even the smallest encounters…

so, a semi-heavier topic today. i work at a coffee shop, and i usually work early. people are interesting at 5am. some are up, energetic, and very friendly. some….like the man i met today….are not at all. they are rude, moody, and sharp in their delivery. now, the encounter between us was very short. probably not more than 2 minutes, and that is most likely a stretch. i was having a conversation with one of my regulars off to the side. i saw this man walk in, did a typical “hello” from behind the bar, and waited for response. he went straight to the pastry case and began his search for something to eat or drink in the self-serve section. i glanced over his way twice during this browsing, both times to see he had his head down and was not yet behind the register. my coworker was brewing coffee directly behind the register, and i assumed she saw him as well. unfortunately, i found my assumptions were wrong. i turned a third time to check on him and he was now faced forward showing his best scowl. very kindly, and as is expected of me, i greeted him again, and said, “i’m sorry, i didn’t see you there”…to which he replied quite rudely, “i’ve been standing here a long time”. i knee-jerked to correct him, but stopped myself and said, quite curtly and admittedly sarcastically, “sir, i’m sorry, i thought you were still deciding”. i won’t bore you with all the details, but i will say, the encounter only got worse as i tried to show this man that i did not approve of his bad attitude.

now…..most people would say, “you are totally justified”…or “good for you, he deserved that”…which i do not entirely disagree with. customer service is one of the least respected jobs by their customers but also one of the tougher jobs out there. (no mr. fireman, policeman, doctor, nurse, therapist, construction worker, etc….i DO think your jobs are harder is many different ways…much respect and awe to you). but i must say, customer service is no picnic some days. i love people. i love to talk to them, converse with them, joke, laugh, and enjoy some of the best encounters with basically strangers. but when you are disrespected by someone with their attitude and behaviors, it is hard to extend respect back. i don’t believe any human being should be talked down to, and i whole-heartedly believe in giving others the ‘benefit of the doubt’. you never know what someone might be going through.

this rough encounter, though short, has plagued me all day. i regret the snarkiness i presented to him, and my lack of trying to turn someone’s day around. it has nothing to do with business, but everything to do with love. God tells us to love, and that it is of the greatest importance in our lives. i did not show this man love today, and it has torn me up.

what i walk away with from this encounter, i think of how i was apart of a chain reaction in his day. perhaps i was the starter, perhaps i was somewhere in the middle that kept his fire burning, and i can’t help but think of how i could have changed the course of his whole day for the worse….or how it could have possibly improved if i had acted with a “turn the other cheek” mentality.

i challenge you to remember the tiny moments that you have with those around you, especially strangers. you never know what they are going through. you could be the only bright light in their day. i pray that God gives me patience next time, and most of all love.


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