When I first learned I was going to become a mom, I was terrified. I wanted a child more than anything but I didn’t know if I was ready. Our daughter is the miracle we didn’t know could happen and she came from a time in our life that was full of change. Because of that, I always thought I would be the mom who wouldn’t lose my identity by letting motherhood completely define me. I have honestly thought I had kept true to that… until I put a man in time out over the phone. That was the moment I realized that I was no longer Reba, and was totally okay being Belle’s Mom. Because really, is there a better title? So how did this all come about? Put your seat-belt on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
I get how hard customer service is
I’ll start out by saying that I’ve worked in customer service industries since I was 15 years old. I taught kids how to ski, I made the nearly perfect curl on ice cream treats, I have been a bar-back, a busser, a server, I worked retail, and worked front desk at a hotel. When you come from a background of working in so many different industries, you learn the difference between good and bad customer service real fast, and usually know how an interaction will go simply by the tone of someone’s voice. I expect no more than I am willing to give when it comes to customer service; this is probably where the problem begins because I am an Enneagram 1 (Not familiar with the Enneagram? It is a fun rabbit hole to go down in understanding your personality and relating to others!).
This is how it went down
It started out innocent enough, a business transaction over the phone to redeem a purchase. Then came the dismissive phrase from the rep: “Yeah, that’s not going to work.” He gave no other solution beyond me being out a decent amount of money. This was when my blood started to boil. Here is the thing: I understand policy change and needing to follow the rules, but where did we miss the boat on Communication 101 where you acknowledge the other party politely?
What happened is the business failed to put restrictions or any fine print conditions on this purchase and instead of offering me something in the middle, they simply said I couldn’t use the certificate I paid for. Then the guy attacked my character. He suggested, rather rudely, that I was attempting to take advantage of a small business during difficult times and was wishing ill-will and misfortune on others. This was hardly the case, and in fact the opposite! I was looking to provide business beyond the redemption of my certificate–a point we didn’t get to because of these accusations. I tried to take a deep breath.
Hello mama bear, nice to see you come out of hibernation
I will not lie to you, I was mad. Have you read the book Llama, Llama, Red Pajama? I was in fact Mama Llama mad. This person hadn’t even asked my name and here he is attacking my character! Yes, I will admit I had raised my voice and my tone was not kind. I admit fault in that and understand those two elements didn’t help the situation. However, I did not call him names, I did not use foul language, I did not threaten with a bad review of any kind. I simply wanted the value of service that I paid for. So, when he sarcastically gave me an apology for the inconvenience, my mama pants raised just a little higher.
I swear I was talking with my hands on my hips and my phone magically floating by my ear
If there is one thing I want to ensure my child learns it’s good manners. Manners will get you further in life than many other things and the ability to give a sincere apology is at the very top of skills to master. I do not tolerate apologies that are not sincere and meaningful. This man’s apology was one my toddler would have called him out on. I told him that I didn’t want his apology for my inconvenience. His apology needed to be for being rude and attacking my character. Just wait for it… he said, “Well, I’m sooooorrrryyy.” You could feel the eye roll as he said it, folks. And that is when I told him he needed a time out.
I explained what an apology should sound like and why I would put my own toddler in time-out to think about it when an apology isn’t sincere and instead laced with attitude and sarcasm. It was in this moment of explanation with a bewildered customer service rep that I realized that my identity as a mom was the only one I needed, that my toddler gives me the skills to hilariously handle rough situations by getting back to the basics. Maybe that is the reminder we all need in life: back to the basics of manners. Who better to facilitate that than mothers?
That afternoon, as I went to pick my daughter up from daycare, another child noticed me walking down the sidewalk and loudly proclaimed, “It’s Belle’s mom!” It brought the biggest smile to my face. I will always be simply Belle’s mom to her playmates, and that is just fine by me!