Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Service with a Smile

There she was, looking disgruntled as usual. For the moment it seemed like she was just browsing the CD collection, but I imagined it wouldn't be long before she'd be at the information desk looking for help.

Sure enough, as I emerged from the book stacks a few minutes later, I saw her standing at the desk. I signaled 'one moment,' quickly deposited the pile of books I'd been pulling, and hastened to meet her. As I approached, she said (under her breath, but certainly intended for me to hear), "It's about time."

"So that's how it's going to be," I thought, determining not to let her ruffle my feathers. I put on my nicest smile, sat upright, and offered my assistance.

It didn't matter; everything was an affront. - There was only one season on shelf of the series in which she was interested. Heavy sigh. Eye roll. - We could place holds on the others. Huff. - Did she want all of the seasons between one and eight, or which ones? No reply. - No problem, we'll request all of them. Throw library card in direction of librarian.

At this point I know some of my co-workers would have politely but firmly told the customer that there was no need to be rude. I suspected, however, there would be no benefit in saying so to this lady. I picked up the card, placed the holds, and helped her find the available DVD. 

Before she left, she asked if we would call her when the reserved items arrived and verified that we had the correct phone number. She never cracked a smile, never showed any gratitude. That was her problem, not mine.

Someone so miserable every time I see her must be a terribly unhappy person. I wonder what happened in her life to make her this way. Was she abused and/or unloved as a child? Was she bullied in school? Has she suffered unbelievable hardship? I imagine so. This doesn't excuse her, but it can explain her. And it seems that she must go through her days expecting nothing good and blaming other people or circumstances for her problems.

Expecting the worst often invites it. Or at least, looking for the worst exposes it. When we look at the world through a certain lens, what we seek is frequently what we see. I don't know about you, but I would rather picture the glass as refillable than either half full or half empty.

Pointing fingers doesn't benefit anyone. It doesn't change one's attitude for the better. It doesn't change the situation. A novel idea is to self-examine: do I play any role in how others are treating me? What is my responsibility in this? (For the record, I'm not the one pointing fingers here).

Unfortunately, I don't have a platform to speak into this woman's life in any meaningful way. I'll likely be uninvolved in any personal change she may eventually make. She sure needs help.

In the meantime, that's the best I can do: offer service with a smile.


  1. Great post Susan. The kindness we show may impact on others more than we imagine. Keep up the good work. You are a wonderful Librarian. K

    1. Thank you, K! I agree; a little kindness can go a very long way!


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