Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Customer Is Always Right

Yesterday I said to my friends and colleagues, Caroline and Molly, "This week stinks." (Actually, I didn't say "stinks," but my parents and my grandmothers read this blog.) "I want a refund."

From the customer service point of view, the whole idea that the customer is always right is downright exasperating, mostly because you know it often (usually?) isn't true. But this is America, where we can, for example, sue toaster manufacturers because we dropped a toaster--that they made, that we bought--on our own heads. Never mind that there are few good reasons for toasters to be above head-level. So sometimes I think I am, or should be, entitled to send my week back and get some sort of reimbursement. Or a new week. And by "new" I don't mean "the next one."

This week started off promisingly enough. I was getting an extra day off than usual, which is normally a cause for financial concern, but I've been doing okay in that area recently and I thought I'd use it to start getting the house ready for Christmas. Also, we normally close the store at ten, but in the new year our store will be inaugurating (drum roll, please) Breakfast Sandwiches. So some construction dudes (I say "dudes" because they were, literally, all men--I'm not being sexist) had to come in to rearrange the innards of our store so that we can accommodate this novelty, and this was going to involve our closing two hours early. Nice. An early close can be a good thing.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned dudes didn't seem to realise that if, for some reason, they decided that a particular night was not convenient for them to show up, we, the closing staff at Starbucks, were going to have to extend our shifts an extra two hours, or otherwise enact all sorts of scheduling contortions. Molly, Ben, Erika and I bore the brunt of this schedule mishandling, and I ended up covering a shift for someone on my "extra" day off, and the store was busy, and it never feels like we have enough staff on hand (because we don't, even though apparently the numbers say we do), and I was in charge of all these growing and shrinking shifts, and although the store innards were not getting modified at all, my own were growing increasingly tense, to the point where I felt like I was going to pop. (As an aside, I predict that in five to ten years, the term "going postal" will be obsolete and people will talk about "going Starbucks.")

Then I got the news about Grandpa, overarching and overshadowing everything--but somehow the shadows it cast just made everything else seem so much worse and bigger and harder, instead of as small and insignificant as it actually was. Therefore, slamming my finger in the pastry case door last night felt like the last straw. But actually, it was saying goodbye to Frank-the-Manager. He's getting a new store in another part of the state. It's not like I'll never see him again, but the timing was horrendous, and I burst into tears.

I wish there were refunds for things like this. I would like to tell God that although I know people are getting slaughtered in Darfur and Christian teenagers are getting beheaded in Iraq, I live in America, where the customer is always right, and I want some compensation. When I think of it that way, it sounds almost as petty as it actually is, but not quite. And it still doesn't take away from the fact that I feel as if it’s all a big deal.

But there’s this thing Frank called a silver lining, and which reminds me of Romans 8.28: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (NLT). In my experience, a lot of the good that God causes everything to work for is something I don’t see—at least not for a very long time. But here’s a little good that I’m seeing already.

Because of the shift I covered on Tuesday, which I hadn’t wanted to work, I can afford to give up my Saturday shift to someone else, so that I can spend the weekend with my grandmother, mom, and brother. I get an extra day off after all, but this way I get a whole weekend to be and reminisce with family. And I can be sad for Grandma, but Grandpa’s not dying anymore, and that's something to be thankful for.

Those things sound sort of little, too, but they also feel like a big deal. I still don't know that the customer is always right. If anything, I reckon my dealings this week were less than gracious and more like "those 'entitled' people" I'm always getting irritated with. But God is merciful, and maybe there’s something like a refund after all.


Anonymous said...

My sincere sympathy on your loss of Grandpa. What great memories to cherish of an example of Christ. Hope you have a great Merry Christmas with your family. By the way, I tell my employees that the “Customer is not always right but they are always the customer.” God’s Love, Sherwin

Anonymous said...

I haven't really looked at your blog much - just once before I guess- but I couldn't help clicking on your link and spending some time orientating myself to your blogspot...I'm sitting here crying and laughing out I insane or is this really good writing? Thanks, Jenn, for sharing with us all your musings, memories (and the rants too!)