Be the Change

We all have those moments of which we’re not proud of, right?

The other day, I was THAT customer.

At 8:15 am, I waited for the drive-thru pharmacy to open, as they should have at 8 am. With another car in front of me, and a 9 am meeting, I fumed.

I can be quite a forgiving soul, especially when there’s a reasonable explanation. But I  have zero patience for arrogance and incompetence.  Especially as a customer.

The pharmacy gave me a hefty dose of both on this particular morning.

Mind you, there was baggage. This pharmacy has already created a horrible brand experience: understaffed, long lines, misplaced scrips, and a constantly frazzled and rushed pharmacist. I can never just pop in and have things go right.  But it’s the closest to my house.

Back to the other morning:

I called the store from my car to ask the clerk if the pharmacist was even in. I explained there were two cars waiting in line and could he please let her know?

Finally, someone showed up and the first car got through quickly. I pulled up to the window.

“Your prescription is not ready…” the tech started to say.

That’s when I lost it. “It’s the last day of my prescription and I’m on auto-fill, it should totally be ready!”

“If you’ll let me finish, MA’AM…we’ll fill it right now and take care of it for you, Stop yelling at me.” (for the record, I wasn’t)

“Well, I’m frustrated that you were supposed to open up over 20 minutes ago and now you’re making me wait even more. I’m going to be late for a meeting.”

To which the snarky tech barks, in the most condescending tone:

“Excuse me, our pharmacist was a in car crash and just got here. Show some compassion, will you, and we’ll help you.”

Now I was impatient AND insulted. She just accused me of being a monster with no compassion. What the what?

“Well, I didn’t know that, of course. How could I? I’m very sorry about that and hope she’s okay, but that was uncalled for and I don’t appreciate your tone.”

Inside, I felt horrible as I saw the poor pharmacist struggling to fill the scrip. But I was super pissed at someone condemning my character for no reason. Had she said the woman had been in a car crash and I still didn’t care, then that’s another story.

So I didn’t let it go.  When the tech came back, I said, “Look, please tell the pharmacist I’m very sorry and that I hope she feels better, but I had no way of knowing this. You could have just said, ‘Please be patient with us, our pharmacist was late because of a crash.” Instead you decided to insult me.”

Just then, the pharmacist came to the window and apologized for the inconvenience and to ask if I had any questions.

“Please don’t worry,” I told her. “I’m so sorry this happened to you and I hope you’re okay. Please go easy on yourself today.”

This whole exchange haunted me. The tech’s snitty, lecturing tone. The sad look in the pharmacist’s tired eyes. The shame at flying off the handle so easily.

I’m not sorry I defended myself and stood up to the bratty tech. It was completely uncalled for accuse me of being a horrible person for no reason.

But I was sorry for the pharmacist. She’s always stressed and then this happens. I’m sure her tech was just acting like a Mama Bear. And I was sorry because, yes, I’m a compassionate human who cares that someone was in a car accident.

With all the conflict and hateful behavior in our world, especially in politics, I decided to make a choice.

Wars, racism, sexism, inequality are all big problems we can’t always control. But they stem from our everyday human interactions. And that is something we can control. (TWEET THIS!)

If we don’t start with being the change we seek in the world, as they say, what hope to we have for tackling the larger problems?

So I wrote her a Get Well card and apologized for stressing her out (I’m still ticked at the tech, though) and left it at the pharmacy counter.

Who knows if she’ll get it? Who knows if she’ll care? But I know and I do. And when we can act the way we want others to act – and show true compassion – I have to hope that makes a ripple effect to make the world a better place.

You have that opportunity every day. You don’t have to change the world by curing cancer or building some global empire or writing a best-selling novel. Delight a client. Help a customer. Chat with a neighbor. Let that driver merge in front of you on the freeway. Look your cashier in the eye (and yes, get off your phone) and say “Thank you.”

You know, like one compassionate human to another.

Image Credit via Flickr

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