One of the reasons I enjoy my job, and why I’ve loved customer service positions in the past, is the interaction with the customers. Working in a bank, of course I get my fair share of angry, irate, furious, “raging and screaming at the top of their lungs in my face” customers, but there are a few that stand out and make it worth putting up with the difficult ones.
Some customers provide good conversation. Sometimes it might be amusing (like the woman who tells me stories of her very successful collectible coin selling business and her plans to someday move to France and open a patisserie). Sometimes it might be informational (like the old man that taught me how to use a roll of quarters as a self-defense device). Sometimes it might just be interesting (like the guy who comes in and talks about his lucrative pull-tab business around town).
Some customers are just fun to talk to in general. I like to joke around with my customers a lot of the time, and it’s always nice to get one who not only enjoys the jokes, but actually jokes back as well (like one couple for whom I opened an account, they appeared to be their mid to late 40s, but still poking fun with each other like they’ve only been dating for a month).
Some customers that I talk with are just so unique, they can’t even be categorized. Every once in a while, I get a customer that comes up to my window, we chat for the 2 minutes they’re there making their transaction, and once they leave, I’m just left in awe at what had just occurred (like the crazy guy that told me this ridiculous story he had written about Mount Olympus being on Jupiter, the asteroid belt lighting on fire and consisting of smaller suns and galaxies, humans actually being larvae that mature into giant insects once they’ve reached 150 years old, and other things that I wish I could remember).
Yet, among them all, I think I’ve recently found my favorite customer. There’s one particular little old lady that often comes up to my window that always makes me smile when I see her next in line; and I don’t mean the fake smile that I have to put on for those customers that make me cringe when I see them next in line, but I mean the sincere, straight from the heart, not just on the surface smile. She’s not exactly everyone else’s favorite customer, in fact I’ve had several people tell me that they hate helping her because they think she’s mean. I’ll admit, I’ve had my own difficult exchanges with her, but I don’t think she’s necessarily mean. Part of the misconception might come from the fact that her face seems to be naturally in a constant state of a slight grimace, but I’ve seen that grimace become a warm, thankful smile. And yet, with all of this, I’ve only ever spoken to her once in all of the times that I’ve helped her, and that was the very first time, because actually, she’s deaf.
My first encounter with her was the difficult time that I mentioned. She had a problem that would have already been hard to fix, but proved to be even more challenging due to the fact that we had to do so through meticulous message writing and pantomiming. At one point during the exchange, I even had to enlist the help of one of my managers, who assured me that this customer was a difficult person she’d helped in the past and advised me to find a quick way out of the situation. However, against her advice, I continued on and eventually resolved the issue. It took much more time and effort than it would have with someone who could hear and speak, but it was worth it for me to be able to help her.
Since that first encounter, each time I see her walking up to my window, it’s as if the world around me suddenly goes on mute. I may not be able to have the conversations with her as I do with other customers, but our exchanges together are always just as interesting (if not even more so) than those that I have with everyone else. I’m not entirely sure how to explain it, but I love the way we interact in complete silence in the midst of the hustle of the world around. There are times when the transaction is so momentary, the fact that it we don’t speak makes it seem almost like it didn’t happen at all. But in actuality, at the end of the day, that single invisible moment may be the one I remember from my entire shift.