The Good, the Bad, and the…umm…Good

by Larry Hehn on October 16, 2012

Good Bad UglyTo call this past Friday memorable would be an understatement.

Since one of my nephews was getting married in the afternoon, my wife and I took the whole day off. As a rare treat she booked hour-long massages for both of us in the morning.

We ran a quick errand, then went to McDonald’s to relax before our appointments. I ordered a large coffee for my wife, and a medium mango smoothie for me.

There was a fair bit of activity on both sides of the counter, and the staff seemed flustered. To my left, one agitated customer was yelling at the clerk to cancel his entire order, take everything back off his tray, and start over again.

Dude, relax. It’s breakfast, not life-or-death.

Everyone behind the counter seemed lost and on edge. It was not the calm, smooth, efficient service I had come to expect from McDonald’s.

Other customers came and went as they brought my wife’s coffee and I waited for my smoothie. And waited. And waited.

After a few minutes of working on the smoothie machine, inserting a new bag of mango goop, pouring in more ice, and fiddling with some dials, they let me know that they couldn’t get the mango to work.

I shrugged, smiled and changed my order to blueberry pomegranate. To apologize for the delay, they refunded the money I had paid for the medium mango smoothie, and gave me a free large blueberry smoothie.

And an apple pie.

I bet the guy who was yelling at the clerk beside me didn’t get that kind of response.

Now, I’m not mentioning this to boast about my stellar character and outstanding people skills. Heck, I wasn’t in a hurry. I had a couple of hours to kill before my massage. I didn’t care if they took three or four minutes to give me my order. I like blueberry just as much as mango.

I have no idea what was going on in buddy’s life that caused him to snap at the staff. I hope and pray that his day got better after that. I probably wouldn’t have been very serene either, if I were in his shoes.

But I learned that when “bad” things happen, how we approach them can decide whether they turn ugly, or back to good.

I’m going to file that away, and hopefully remember that next time I’m feeling flustered and ready to snap.

In the meantime, anybody want an apple pie?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Rives October 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

You’re right Larry, kind actions usually lead to calm attitudes. Sounds as though you probably were a bright spot in that worker’s day!

Nice reminder ~
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Larry Hehn October 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Thanks, Carol. That experience got me thinking about times I – or others – may have missed out when I didn’t take things in stride.


Juan Cruz Jr October 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I’ll take the apple pie! : ) And sad to say I’ve been like that customer you described in the past, and I’ve had to turn around convicted and apologize. I’ve become better of the years, thank God. But it quite simple. The moment you feel like snapping, take a step back, recognize the feeling boiling up in you, and do the opposite of what you are about to do, especially if it’s the wrong thing.
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Larry Hehn October 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Good call, Juan!


marlene October 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm

This is a great story with many applications. I love your blog.


Larry Hehn October 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Long time no see, Marlene. I pray you are doing well. Thank you for your encouragement. Keep writing!


ThatGuyKC October 17, 2012 at 12:25 am

Reminds me of this verse: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Prov 15:1

I’ve worked in customer service type roles and been a customer for years. More often than not a smile and calm voice gets the better end result.
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Larry Hehn October 17, 2012 at 9:48 am

Great verse, KC. I appreciate that!


Monique October 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

Not only being in customer service, but being in insurance, I get yelled at by my clients on a regular basis. Recently I had a customer call me to apologize for the negative comments he made the previous day. It took me longer to process the apology than being yelled at as I am just not used to kind words in my profession.
That apology has stuck with me and has kept me going through more harsh words from other clients. You have to hold on to the positive to keep your head above water.
The above Proverb is now attached to my monitor here at work. Thank you, KC.


Larry Hehn October 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

What a great idea, Monique! I could definitely use that reminder on my monitor too. And my dashboard. And…


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