I stood at the register at Monkey Joe’s, a kids play place in northern Raleigh. The seven children with me had already been wristbanded and had run off to bounce on the toys, play tag, and hide-n-seek. I was ready to sit down on the comfy parent chairs and relax.
Or so I thought.
Right up until the girl at the register said, “We have a problem. Your groupons are for the Cary location and not this one.”
I was incredulous. “What do you mean?” I asked. “I specifically bought groupons for Monkey Joes in RALEIGH.” I’d been trying to figure out something fun to do on Leap Day, some way to celebrate the day that comes only once every 4 years. When I’d seen the Monkey Joes groupon it had seemed an easy answer—take the kids to a place where they could do a lot of leaping around. And so I clicked and bought.
I opened my computer and showed the employee that indeed, my groupon had said “Monkey Joes—Raleigh” at the top. She agreed that that was frustrating, but was firm that they could not accept them at the Raleigh location, and that I could either pay for entry or take the kids to the Cary location.
I appreciated this woman’s courtesy in a difficult moment.
She could not have known the stress I am under.
She could never know how hard I’ve been working every day, how late I’ve been staying up every night, or how early I’ve been waking to start working again.
She had no idea that I’d already driven an hour just to get to her location in northern Raleigh.
She had no way of knowing that I am living most moments on the verge of tears.
A couple of months ago I needed to get some blood drawn. When I called a local lab to see if they could draw it and ask a couple of questions the technician was curt, unhelpful, and by the end of the phone call downright rude. She may not have said the words ‘You are stupid,’ but she certainly communicated that feeling as she asked me impatiently at the end of the phone call “why on earth I had called her.” I got off the phone in tears, feeling humiliated.
The next week I had a very different experience at another local lab. I arrived with an appointment already made to have the blood drawn. For some reason they had lost all of the paperwork, and there were a couple of reasons that they didn’t think they were going to be able to draw my blood. Their new computer systems weren’t letting them access any information very quickly, and for 45 minutes I stood there and waited while they tried to figure things out. In the end they decided that they really couldn’t draw my blood, and once again I went away disappointed. But in every other way the experience was different. The man and women I spoke with in that lab that day were kind and courteous. They were frustrated that they couldn’t figure things out quickly, but they never expressed any of that frustration towards me. In the end they apologized genuinely for my inconvenience and I left feeling fine, despite my lack of success.
I’ve thought about those different experiences in the months since they happened, and they came into my mind again today as I drove away from Monkey Joes in Raleigh hoping that I could find the one in Cary. (Which I did, thanks to my wonderful husband and a service that he provides that we call ‘Blonde-Star.’) I thought about how one rude or annoyed or even patronizing word from the Monkey Joe’s employee would certainly have been the straw that broke the Leap Year camel’s back.
I am grateful for her patience and sensitivity.
I’ve always liked the saying
(also often attributed to Marjorie Hinckley)
but never more than today. Today, when I was dressed neatly, with my hair fixed and makeup on. Today when a normal exterior camaflauged a volcano of tears hidden just underneath. Today when I for a moment doubted my ability to survive my hard battle.
Today I was the recipient of kindness in a stressful moment, and I hope that I never forget what it felt like…