One of the purely nicest coworkers I have told me a story about a situation she encountered last week. I asked her if I could post about it on the blog. After some hesitation she agreed, with the understanding that I would not use her real name.
Summer Patton lives with her husband and children in a small bedroom community north of Los Anchorage. She commutes about 100 miles a day and therefore proper vehicle maintenance is important to her.
Last week Summer had her local mechanic perform the usual 3000 mile oil change. While she was paying the office manager, a heavily bundled couple walked into the office. They had obviously walked through the 10 degree weather for a significant distance.
Summer collected her receipt and moved aside as she waited for her car to be done. The man and the woman approached the counter and the man asked if their van had been fixed as he pulled some crumpled bills from his pocket. The office manager said that it had been fixed and the total was $120.02. The man looked surprised and said he only had $80. The office manager gave him a snotty tone and said that the total was $120.02 and if he didn’t have the money he would have to come back when he did or he could take it up with Jimmy, the mechanic.
So the man walked into the shop area and spoke with Jimmy while Summer and the other woman waited in a tense silence and the office manager actively ignored them both.
The man came back and told the office manager that Jimmy told him he could pay the $80 cash and write a check for the rest. The man told the office manager that he would have to post-date the check for the balance.
The office manager loudly sighed then looked down her nose at the man and said “we have to run verification of funds of all checks. If there’s not enough money in the account you’ll need to leave and come back with the balance before we will release the van to you.”
The man just looked at her stunned and wide-eyed while he tried to figure out how to explain a third time that all he had was $80 and that he needed the van in order to make the money in order to pay the bill and that Jimmy seemed fine with the arrangement.
The office manager continued to look down her nose at him as if daring him to contradict her again.
Summer had watched all of this (including the part about check verification which had not been done to her own check) and then stepped forward to ask the office manager to confirm the amount of the remainder of the bill. The office manager glared at Summer then confirmed it was $40.02. Summer told the office manager she would write a check for that amount.
Both the heavily bundled man and woman were stunned but immediately thanked her and told her that she was exceptionally kind. Summer graciously minimized her generosity with “Oh it’s not a problem. It’s what most people would do.”
And that’s the part of the story which gets to me. I’m not sure most people would do what she did. I think most people (and maybe even me) would consider the whole situation simply none of their business, not their problem, and having nothing to do with them.
I’d LIKE to think I would have done the same thing Summer did but one never knows what they are made of until they are tested.
Summer is made of pure kindness.