I believe it was mid-morning on Black Friday. I’d been at work since 5:30 that morning and I was pretty much running on fumes.
The next customer in line was a jovial woman in her 50’s. She greeted me with a warm smile as she pulled a giant bin behind her. This bin was overflowing with toys! Stuffed animals, Barbies, Lego sets – the whole shooting match.
I estimate it took over 30 minutes to ring up her transaction. But it was the most satisfying transaction I had all day. Know why?
“This is all a donation to Toys for Tots.” Her order was well north of $600.
I can tell by the confused dog looks I’m getting from most of y’all that you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Allow King Ryan to ‘splain.
Over the past couple months, I’ve taken on work as a cashier at Kohl’s. It’s seasonal work, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to keep me on after the holidays are over. They seem to be very pleased with the work I do. The supervisors and managers seem to appreciate me and what I do. I’ve also been taking on more of a leadership role lately. And it only stands to reason –
I am a natural leader.
About a week ago while I was ringing up a customer, I got present to something pretty powerful that I wanted to share with you guys here on the Good Men Project.
I’m still a coach after all. And I’m still taking on new clients. Just email [email protected]. New clients are welcome!
Big stuff coming there…watch this space.
Let’s flash back to that customer I rang up on Black Friday. She was the prime example of what I’m talking about here.
We all let the pressures of the world get to us and take us out of who we really are. This makes us mean, surly, and bitter. From pressures at work, money troubles, relationship breakdowns – what have you – life puts a ton of pressure on us.
This was a woman who was taking time out of her day away from her own family to do a good deed for less fortunate children. All so they can have a smile on Christmas Morning.
This was a woman who lives to help others. And that really touched my heart. There was no air of pretentiousness or self-righteousness about her.
I could tell by her smile.
Lessons in human nature, one transaction at a time
This new job has taught me so much about human nature. And I’d like to share a few examples here in this article.
There was this mother in her 30’s. She was good natured and kind. But something about her seemed like she was wound like a guitar string fixing to break. She bought well over $400 worth of clothes. She also had three young boys in tow – the oldest was probably six and the youngest was maybe one.
As I was ringing her up, a customer was leaving the store and stops by to remark at how cute this lady’s kids were. I mean, they were some cute kids. Through this conversation, I overhear her say that she has five kids – four boys and a girl. No freakin’ wonder she’s stressed!
As I finish ringing her up, she mentions something about all the clothes she’s buying. And they were all kids’ clothes too.
“It makes sense to me when you’ve got a basketball team at home,” I said offhandedly as I’m closing out her transaction. This triggered a big laugh from her. That guitar string loosened just a little bit.
“A basketball team? I never thought of it like that. I haven’t laughed like that in ages. Thank you!”
Later that day, a couple made eye contact with me. They were the only ones in line.
“You open?” The lady asks.
“Come on down! You’re the next contestant on the Kohl’s is Right.”
As they’re loading their purchases on the counter to check out, the man starts chuckling.
“Buddy, I love your sense of humor. We need more of that this time of year.”
On another day, I helped a different couple straighten out a problem that required three separate transactions. And believe you me, this was a mess.
At the end of the transaction and before we send the customer on their way, we offer the customer an opportunity to take an online survey about their store experience. Most big box retailers do this, and Kohl’s is no exception.
This guy was so grateful I got his situation straight, he seemed eager to take the survey.
“You better believe I’m gonna do that. You’re a king, brother.”
It took everything I had not to laugh in his face. Gotta stay on brand, y’know?
Finally, in a bit of cruel irony, a few days later I hear a female voice in line that sounded awfully familiar.
“Ryan?!” I turn around and I see… her. The woman I’ve been flirting with (and truthfully, crushing on) in one of my group fitness classes for the last month or so. She comes to my counter to check out.
She… and her bleeping boyfriend were buying ugly Christmas sweaters for a party.
She’s bragging up and down about me to her boyfriend, and all the while I’m dying the death of a thousand cuts inside.
The more things change, the more they stay—RYAN! C’mon man, full stop!
Retail stores during the Holidays can be the worst of times. But they can also be the best of times. As long as we’re all being ourselves and working together, we can thrive in this environment.
Coach Ryan offers you 3 tips guaranteed to help you survive the holidays in once piece
In closing, I’d like to leave you all with some tips to use to survive the holidays in one piece. Y’know, while in a retail environment.
This is more of a peeve of mine, but I don’t think I’m alone. If you’ve got a big transaction, please oh please don’t load everything on the counter at once.
- It overwhelms me to get stuck behind the entire clearance rack of summer shirts, several toys, four boxes of shoes, and enough baby clothes for three growing kids. I’m usually a one-man operation behind the counter. I like to bag up things together for your benefit. And when you just dump an entire cart load of merchandise on my counter, it drives me crazy. In the words of Jerry Maguire, “Help me, help you.”
You want to save money while shopping. I want to help you save money while shopping.
- Have any vouchers and coupons you want to use ready for me when you get to the front of the line. It helps keep things moving when you’ve got the thing I need to scan ready on your phone. Again – help me, help you.
Any discounts you’re entitled to because of your standing, or age, please let me know up front.
- It helps me keep things accurate and it saves the managers headaches for any post-sale adjustments. And don’t get angry at me when you don’t tell me these things until after the transaction is closed. Ask for what you need up front!
Sounds like a coaching call I had recently…
You ready for the main point of this article? I know you are!
Here it is: Remember that the guy or gal on the other side of the counter is a human being too.
- I’m a human being who wants to help you get what you need. Yelling doesn’t help. Rushing me doesn’t get you out the door faster. All it does is lead me to mistakes. Or – God forbid – leaving a sensor tag on a pair of jeans. Let’s work together to make this a good experience for all.
Y’all, it’s all about kindness. It’s all about getting the hell out of your head and working together.
Let’s lift each other up. It ain’t that hard!
Here is one more bit of kindness that really touched my heart.
I’m walking my dog Pete when I see this old lady getting out of a taxi and headed to a medical building right next to my apartment building. She’s struggling tremendously as she’s barely shuffling along.
“Young man, can you help me out?”
I take her by the hand and walk her to the door.
The beautiful smile of gratitude on her face was enough to simply make my week.
Be kind to each other. Not just during the Holidays, but all year long.