Gladys Knight once said in an interview, “Please don’t call me no Diva.”
Well at around 10:45a on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, at the Chinatown Cermak Chicago Metra Station, I had an encounter with one.
I was reroute to a Closing Downtown. I normally park in the area and walk Downtown, only this morning I was running out of time to be as close to on-time as possible. I had the only keys to the South-Chicago 2-Flat I sold on South Manistee Avenue, and knew the Buyer and/or their Attorney would be expecting me to deliver them to the Chicago Title office on South LaSalle Street in the heart of the Financial District where to the closing was taking place.
Upon arriving at the station I notice these two Metra-Train Female Employees having a conversation in the windowed office. I thought, although I rarely ride the train, I would try to figure out the ticket machine on my own. I tried, and just could not get it to do what I needed it to do, so I kindly asked if one of the Ladies could help me. One Lady all makeup up complete with the bought eyelashes and hair, approached me.
She immediately said, “Sir if you will just read the instructions above you, it clearly states you push - P u s h!” Yes, she had to go all the way there with spelling out her instructions to me through each step, continuing to give me the next set of instructions in this manner of communication. I wanted to say to her, “Miss I am neither stupid nor dumb, only a little confused and in a hurry.” Instead, I talked to myself telling myself, “your goal Dale is to just get the ticket and get on the train.”
As she gave me the next instruction she didn’t realize the machine needed to catch-up to what she had instructed me to do, resulting in my having to repeat the action she requested. She began to comment to me, “Sir if you just listen and follow my commands I can get you on the train faster.” She explained the machine does not give out change, and recommended I use a debit or credit card. She literally broke her instructions down to how to appropriately swipe the card.
As I began to punch in my zip code, again I was moving ahead of the speed of the machine. She says to me, “Sir Do you even know your zip code?” At that point I turned to her, and gave her the look of say one more condescending comment to me. She realized the machine needed to catch-up, and I hear silence for a moment. Once the machine accepts the transaction, she pointed down to the clear window below telling me to expect the ticket and receipt to come out of there.
I grab the ticket and receipt with her walking me over to where I place the ticket to get access to the platform. She tells me, “Sir if you will just place the ticket face right hear on the machine, it will let you go through!” As I pass through the machine I turn around and say to her, “I really appreciate you taking the time to help me. She says, “You know Sir I could gotten you there faster if you would have carefully followed my instructions, and please have a very Merry Christmas!”
I wonder as you read her comments to me as I’ve written them, you will agree she was courteous and helpful to me. Had you been there in my shoes her attitude was, since you interrupted my good conversation I’m going to kill you with kindness while I make you feel very ignorant for bothering me?
While I was experiencing this memory being created with this young dolled-up lady, I reflected on why Gladys never wanted to be thought of as a Diva in the interview I read about her perception of a Diva.
My experience cause me to think about how this Employee in a Customer Service position really needs more Customer Service training. She had all of the courtesy correct, but she mixed it with a funky attitude. I imagined her boss observing her, and what would be said to her about using her attitude to attempt to tear-down anyone asking her to do the job she is hired to do?
My Friends who know me well know I am a natural walker. Catching a train is rare event for me, so when I approach a ticket machine I have to re-teach myself how to use them. It will be a long time before I put myself through that again, but accept this is a part of the urban experience. I stayed kind and tolerant of her as I reminded myself I was going through this experience for a reason.
The reason, was to keep myself reminded when I’m serving my Clients how I communicate to them intentionally or un-intentionally is communication received by them in the way they receive it. It is so important when they are having a hard time grasping on to something I’m teaching them, I should never cause them to feel dumb or stupid.
The one time in my life I wanted to be Donald Trump for a moment, to step in his shoes and say to “Miss Young Diva with so much yet to learn,” get more customer service training or You’re Fired!