Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Reluctant Apologies At the Till


--by Lilynia, posted Dec 27, 2007
Not so long ago I worked at a cafe in a garden centre where one day I was working on the till and taking orders.

It was quite a busy day.

Around lunchtime a couple of ladies reached the till and I rang through their items and their orders and once I had completed that they said they wished to pay separately. Now, I wasn't exactly new on the till, but I was still unsure of how I would go about this.  So I canceled half the order so I could do each transaction separately. However it turned out (by a very huffy response from these two ladies) that I'd divided it up wrong, but by then the till thought that the transaction was complete, and so then my mind went into meltdown and I had no idea how to sort it all out.

The two ladies quite clearly knew that I was effectively screwing up their order, possibly helped by the fact that I was staring at the screen blankly. Instead of trying to be patient, though, they made me feel even worse by continuing to be huffy, staring at me aggressively as though that would get things sorted, and even at one point one of them blurted out 'Oh this is ridiculous!' 

Eventually, after almost experiencing a complete mental break-down and a lot of help from one of my co-workers, the order was sorted out and the women stomped off to their table.  I apologized to the next customer for their having to wait but they were very understanding and even sympathetic. However I still felt highly flustered and on the verge of tears and realized I wouldn't be able to work properly until I got this sorted out.

Now, I understand that my incompetence but  I did feel quite angry and embittered towards those ladies for making me feel so awful.   Nonetheless, I also knew that I had to swallow my pride and dignity, and even fear at having to confront them again, and go and apologize to them for my incompetence.

So I did.

And I ended feeling sincere, for when I'd said it, they smiled at me like two completely different people from the hostile women I'd faced only moments ago, and they even apologized back to me for getting angry with me, and we each ended up smiling.

The situation had been transformed. Instead of going away feeling embittered for the rest of the day I felt lifted up for having been cordial, and I think they did too.

Even though you may have negative feelings for someone, reaching out to them can make all the difference. You may not even feel sincere at first in your kindness, but in the end, the likelihood is that you will.
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Readers Comments

JuneBug wrote: I have filled those shoes where customers have been so rude..You handled your situation so well. ...I appauld you! [Did I spell that right?] :}
AURELIA wrote: Good for you. Forgiveness is a gift. I've said it before too that it's a freedom to move on. Get over it and move on. I'm proud of you for handling yourself so nicely. I've come across some overly stressed waitresses and checkout clerks and have sincerely tried to see it through their eyes. I hope people will read your story and know that we are all human and make mistakes and to count to 10 and smile. ~Aurelia
lovebug wrote: We are all Human and we do get stuck. I am stuck, I hope to be moving forward. But for me, being polite and apologizing are distinct and different terms. I do my best to be polite, sometimes I even try to politically correct. Normaly I prefix my apologie, with the words " I am sorry if you are offended". If I do not use these words, people know,I am truly sorry. Like I say, I am stuck. From my view point, and it is only my view point, but I think we send a bad message when we teach children to say " I am sorry" when they aren't. It becomes a bad habit. Our children are so innocent, we don't give them time to think or know they are intelligent, we teach them what is pollictically correct. I have learned great lessons from listening to che innocent child, they will all find their way in time, we all do in time
babynurse wrote: A lot of time people forget that we all are human and make mistakes. You did the right thing by getting it straight, and not letting it eat at you all day. God bless you.

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