April Jeppson: Whatever you do, simply just try to be nice

Published 8:51 pm Thursday, June 20, 2019

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


I have a few different jobs, but all of them have me working with the public. One afternoon at work, I was dealing with a customer. He requested I perform a function I’d never done before. I was calm and polite as I tried to solve the problem at hand. I looked at him, smiled and said I was sorry for taking “so long.” It really wasn’t long — he was standing in front of me for less than a minute when I said this.

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He rolled his eyes, exhaled loudly, tapped his fingers on the counter and said, “Oh give me a break.” A decent human would have responded with, “Oh no, you’re fine.” But apparently I wasn’t dealing with one of those. He was notably not impressed and didn’t bother to hide it. In fact, it was as if he wanted me to know how upset he was having to wait two minutes. I’m dead serious when I say it was a 20-second task that took me two minutes. I was floored by the way he treated me.

Last week, I had a customer make a complaint about a situation that was completely out of my control. In fact, there wasn’t a problem at all, just a perceived problem. Like someone complaining that the highways aren’t wide enough, the soda has too many bubbles or the sun is too hot. Nothing anyone can do about it, but he somehow felt that I had control to fix this situation for him.

So I have this gentleman complaining, and I’m patiently listening. I acknowledge he’s upset and calmly explain that sadly there’s nothing that can be done. He walks away. Thirty minutes later he comes back angrier. When he realizes I’m not going to “fix” his problem, he proceeds to bad mouth me to anyone within earshot. Oh, and his kids. He made a special effort to tell his children how unfair this was and that they shouldn’t have to deal with this.

At Wind Down Wednesday — which was awesome by the way — I witnessed a mom who wasn’t blatantly mean like the previous gentlemen, but rude nonetheless. My family was patiently waiting in line for an activity. This mother walks up with her children and slowly slides her way to the front of the line. Complete disregard for the volunteer attendant guiding people to the line, or the children who were waiting there before she showed up.

When the next group of kids got to participate, she hurried her children around the entrance and in, forcing others to wait for the next round. She might have been oblivious to her actions, or the line, but does that make it acceptable? Every man, woman and child for themselves? Since when did we stop looking around and paying attention to our surroundings? How many times can a person claim, “Oh I didn’t know” before it becomes apparent that they are simply a rude human?

Having these interactions this past month has really opened my eyes to how I want to treat people. If I’m waiting in long line, I can still smile. I can tell the flustered attendant to “take your time, I’m in no rush.” I can calmly and respectfully share my concerns with staff. If I look around and see that there’s nothing that can be done, instead of telling my children how unfair this is, I can tell my children that sometimes life is like this, and we need to learn how to adapt and problem solve. Not everything is fixable. I can look up when I’m at a store or a park and if I see someone who is potentially waiting in line, I can ask them.

But, seriously, I can make eye contact and smile. If any one of these people would have paused, made eye contact and smiled, they would have seen that they were dealing with fellow human beings — people who probably also had their own problems, worries, struggles and restless children.

Here’s the good news. I deal with so many nice, polite, friendly people on a regular basis. I can’t lay down an easy example for you because they are everywhere. Multiple times, every single day, I have people hold doors, smile at me, make small talk, give my kids stickers, offer to grab me a beverage. Nice people are everywhere, but I am thankful for these bad experiences. They remind me to up my game. To smile more, to be more patient and for the love of all things holy, to just be nice.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.