The other day I found myself pressed for time and extremely hungry. To my dismay I ended up in line at a local McDonald's and I wasn't proud of it. As I previewed my limited opportunities I found myself behind a rude older man and his wife. Not just the normal condescending rude; but with the addition of racism. The cashier was a sweet Filipino woman that showed poise and restraint in dealing with this jerk. In fact, what she displayed was enough to inspire me to look at life and agitations in a different light.
This rude customer spewed his insults toward the cashier for everything; including her accent and inability to quote the menu and its content. He even paused long enough to tell his wife how he was about to lose his patience with “this foreigner.” Without missing a beat, the lady working the register got his complete order and even managed a polite smile and "thank you for coming" at the end. As I moved forward, I had to ask her how she managed not to curse this idiot out is. She revealed to me she was in fact the franchise owner of the restaurant and she had heard worse. By this time, she had my undivided attention. I was intrigued at how she was so humble and yet so successful.
Here is what I learned:
• She never lost sight of the bigger picture: The lobby of this fast food chain happened to be packed when I walked in. I realized that if she had given in to the negativity of this one customer she would have compromised the customer service of the rest of the crowd. The owner of the store knows the financial impact more than anyone else. At the end of the day it is of vital importance that each dollar that walks in is treated as a valued customer.
• She was rewarded for refusing to be offended: This guy tried everything to get her going, but she countered it with a smile and a pleasant tone. For some that may seem like a sign of weakness but I saw it as a great strength. Anyone can lose it but it takes control to choose not to. The one with the power is the one with true self control. While he was being rude, he was also spending money at her establishment.
• After he was done with his rant, she could say “next”: No wonder she was able to tolerate this guy and his foolishness, she knew he was not her last customer of the day. Right after him was a line of people with money in hand ready to pay. Why let one person along your journey interrupt the rest of your profitability. Move on and keep doing what you do.
I never got her name, but as she bagged my combo she smiled and shared she was about to celebrate her third year as the franchise owner of this location. I chuckled and left her with another compliment. I also thanked her for the nugget of wisdom I received from her. It’s funny that you never really know who you're holding a conversation with so we all should make sure to be polite.