You could feel the frustration seeping out of the girl behind the desk. It must have been a hard day at the office. She donned a black dress suit with a white button up blouse. She was yipping at someone over the phone, causing the others in line around to absorb her frustration. There’s one thing you don’t want to do when you are in an office setting; upset the customers.

All customers suffer from a severe condition known as “the customer is always right,” which isn’t always true. Most of the time the customer is wrong, but no one in their right mind would ever say that to their face. That would be a murder sentence for sure. Not only for you, but also for the company you represent.

That’s why, on this cold October day, coming in to handle my  business went from a quick errand, to a stressful battle.

I was the fourth person in line following three other people who seemed at whits end with the lady who was still on the phone.

At this point in the phone call, her conversation went something like this:

“Sir. Sir. Sir. Sir. Sir if. Sir please. SIR! I will not ask again for you to stop yelling at me! Just listen to. Sir if you yell at me one more time. Sir I am going to hang up. Sir this is your final!” She slammed the receiver down on the hook. “Ugh people!” She sputtered. It was clear she didn’t enjoy that conversation.

The fist person in line looked a little irritated as they walked up to the desk and set their folder on the clean white surface.

“Just one moment.” the girl warned as she stabbed the computer keys with her fingers. I assumed she was sending a note to a supervisor or someone about the conversation she just had with man on the other end of the phone. After a few more seconds of clicking keys, she pounded down on the “Enter” button and redirected her attention to the man now impatiently waiting in front of her desk. She took a deep breath and put on a clearly fake smile.

“Thank you for waiting sir. How may I help you today?” She asked with no real sincerity at all.

At this point, again, the girl began to be yelled at, but by someone in person. Not someone she can make go away by hanging up the phone.

Standing here and seeing all of this unfold before me, I realized that frustration is not only contagious, it is infectious. It spreads like a wild fire causing nothing but destruction and hurt feelings in its wake.

I couldn’t take it. I had to get out. I didn’t want to succumb to the ill effects of this disease. I didn’t care that I hadn’t accomplished what I came here to do. I spent the next few seconds uneasily bouncing between my feet and trying to decide what my next move would be. Do I enter the lion’s den and wait in line, or do I make a break for it and escape while I can?

As I was weighing my decisions, I heard someone come up behind me in line. I twisted my head back far enough to see the little old lady behind me out of the corner of my eye. She seemed nice enough, but she didn’t look prepared for the war zone she was blindly entering.

I took a step to the side and offered her my place in line. She was greatly pleased by this act of kindness. Little did she know what she was about to be faced with. I took one last look at the woman behind the desk before leaving. She was now leafing through the folder the man brought in. She had severe scowl lines on her forehead as she looked up and spoke to the customer.

That was my cue. I turned back around and headed out the door before I, too, was infected with the frustration being so carelessly thrown around.


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