For the past 3 weeks, my car has reminded me that I am overdue for an oil change. I was at least 1,000 miles over my due date. So, I got up this morning and went to WalMart to be the first in line for their first-come-first serve program. I grabbed my coffee, two outstanding books and let the day begin.
When I arrived, there were already five people in front of me. Two of which were yelling at the manager about the length of time he was projecting it was going to take. The manager shrugged and politely said only one tech showed up this morning. Maybe one would come in around 9:00, maybe he wouldn’t. He was hopeful but couldn’t be certain.
The way everyone was talking to him and the other employees, I wouldn’t rush to work in the morning either.
LESSON 1: HIGH EXPECTATIONS AT LOW PRICE OUTLETS YIELDS HIGH DISAPPOINTMENT —AND— THE GUY IN FRONT OF YOU DIDN’T CREATE THE SYSTEM YOU’RE YELLING AT HIM ABOUT
One particular customer finished yelling at the clerk, and then got on the phone and began calling about his outpatient procedure at the hospital tomorrow. He was furious he had to be there at 7am for lab work. He was furious he had to park in the patient parking and told the registrar, “I have A-Fib, there is no #$%@ing way I am parking there and walking all the way to the hospital. You’re going to have to get me a ride when I park.” The call went on and on about how everything was stupid, and he will never again this, and never again that. He then got up and walked across the store to the Burger King counter, ordered and came back. He did this with no distress.
LESSON 2: THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT—AND– YOU DO NOT WANT EVERY CUSTOMER WITH A WAD OF CASH, SOME CUSTOMERS ARE BEST SERVED ELSEWHERE
Next to me was an older African American gentleman. He had on a hat that said Korea Veteran. I love veterans. Especially the older African American ones that proudly served our country during times when the country probably didn’t deserve their service. I shook his hand and told him thanks for his service. He smiled. We both had a moment of respite as Angry Joe ranted back to the Burger King counter to complain about his food.
His name is Eugene Duraham, Sr. He lives in Henderson, NC. We were at the Wake Forest WalMart, which is 30 minutes from his home. He came to Walmart last Friday at noon to get the tires of his truck replaced. After sitting and waiting for 5 hours, they told him they couldn’t get to him today because they were closing. He got back in his truck, drove home and arrived again today at 8:45. The service clerk told him there would be a minimum of a 4-hour wait. Eugene has an authentic, warm smile despite investing 9 hours of his time for a set of tires.
For the next 2 ½ hours I learned a lot about Eugene’s rich history. I learned how he altered his birth certificate to enlist in the Army Corp of Engineers for Korea when he was 17.
I learned how he bought his first car in 1951 and was called to duty two days later so he had the car shipped to his brother’s house where his brother put it in his barn. AND THEN…he FORGOT about the car until he was visiting his brother 10 years later. His brother kept it in pristine condition, covered in his barn for 10 years. He laughingly said he drives the car on Sundays, and right now it has 52,000 original miles on it. Someone recently offered him $110,000 for the vehicle. He said no. His wife can sell it when he dies.
After his military service, he spent the next 20 years serving as a police officer until he retired 8 years earlier.
LESSON 3: SOMETHING OR SOMEONE AMAZING IS SITTING NEXT TO YOU RIGHT NOW, BUT YOU’RE TOO BUSY TRYING TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO NOTICE.
My time with Eugene has been the highlight of my week. When they called that my car was ready, it was almost as if I needed a little more time in the waiting room.
If I was scrolling my phone, Facebooking or playing Candy Crush I would have missed this very enriching opportunity.