I’ve probably passed hundreds of “Hugo’s” and “Danni’s” during any given week of shopping; walking downtown;  passing through a hotel, bank, building lobby; waiting for the bus or my car to be fixed.  I don’t have any clue as to what they do, what they’re feeling, or where they’re going.  I don’t particularly care; they don’t care about me either.

How many strangers who wait on you at the multiple stores you patronize, the post office, or on the phone make your lives simpler, easier, faster or more convenient?  Most of these people are just faces or voices with “no name.”  The most important word in anyone’s language is his/her name!  We’ve all carried on conversations with people whose names never come into that conversation.  They’re gone in a few minutes and that’s the end of it of our “relationship”; we move on.

Customer service is as prevalent as peppermint hamburgers:  it’s not there.  And yet, every so often we get someone who not only loves his/her job, but also makes your association with them a positive influence.  How wonderful is this?  I’ve complained about auto-responders and pre-recorded “customer service,” it drives me to drink as early as 7 a.m.   So, when a real person not only answers the phone, but also solves my situation, I feel as though I’ve won the lottery.  How sad is that?  Sad, you ask?  Because it’s so unusual.

When my old behemoth television started acting up, I ignored it and then put up with the buzzes.  Then the pixelating – new word for me – started:  faces turned into Picasso art and then the screen went black.  Okay, time to put the tv into its grave.  Well after a day of television shopping – if you’ve read other blogs, you know the story – I found out it wasn’t the tv, it was the cable box.  Wow, instead of spending $100s on a new tv, I could actually get the picture and the sound back with help from my cable company.  Too wonderful for me.

My first customer service stranger is Steve.  Now Steve could touch this, push a button there, and send a signal here so my pixelating – he gave me the word – would stop.  Just that easy.  Steve spent a good :30 on the phone fixing the situation and recommended I get a new cable box.  So, I did just that.  One stranger whose face I can’t see, made me lose 22 lbs. of anguish.  Love the guy.  Then I went to the cable office to trade in an old for a new cable box.  Great.  (The customer service at the office dimmed – at best – from the phone customer service. But, I was patient!)

Once home I had to call customer service again because the channels didn’t come up.  So Danni came into my life.   She and I spent over an hour together.  During the minutes of down time waiting for the tv to answer her computer input, we talked about programs, how long she’d worked there, what she used to do, and I even know how old she it.  In one hour.  How often do you get that far with people you meet at a cocktail party or networking event?  Seldom.   But the situation didn’t  fix.  She scheduled a technician for the next day between 1 – 3p.m.

Hugo showed up at my door.  We invite total strangers into our homes when we know they’ll help us, but people who come to our door selling, have to step 10′ from the threshold so as not to impose themselves.  Interesting.  Hugo told me my “new” box wasn’t programmed right!  Fine.  I’d already spent two hours – travel, waiting, travel, installation, and Danni – on a box that didn’t work as well as the first one.  But Hugo had a new box for me and programmed all the right channels plus set the time on it – I won’t have a clue how to change it to standard time; that’s another situation – and walked me through my “On Demand.”  He gave up a few minutes of his time to make certain my television was almost “new.”  Those few minutes were worth hundreds. Hugo loves his job and it shows. The comfort of strangers….

Three out of the four people I dealt with for one small television cough made my life better.  Yes, it took way too much time, but I liked these people.  These strangers came into my life for blink of my life and made a difference.  Can we do the same for someone else?  Can we offer a hand to someone without expecting anything in return?  Can we extend our gift, talent or grace to strangers to help make their lives simpler, easier, better?  Absolutely.  Remember, ask them their name if time permits.

Happy Saturday.


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