I recently got an order of new towels. It was quite the adventure. For weeks I’d try a set only to find they snagged in the very first wash. Back to the store I’d go for a different set. Same thing. First wash and snags. Back to the store I’d go for a different set. I’d visit people and ask about their towels. Finally I found the perfect towels. I went to the store’s website and ordered six sets.
An Order of New Towels
I waited and waited for my order of new towels. The confirmation email said my order was processing. A week later another email confirmed that order of new towels had shipped. A tracking number was included, a interesting tracking number, because it went nowhere. It was not a USPS number. It was not a UPS or FedEx number. Surprised, but not overly concerned, I waited another week, but no towels.
I went back to the department store’s website to follow up on my order of new towels. Unable to speak with anyone, I typed my question into their chat service. I made my way through three agents, but 45 minutes later, nothing. The last associate said I’d need to give my order of new towels another week.
A week later no towels. Again, I went to the chat service to follow up. Again, I made my way through more associates, this time getting straight to the point. “Your tracking number goes nowhere and my towels are nowhere to be seen. I need towels. Now. I need them shipped immediately using a tracking number that actually connects to a real delivery service.” “Not a problem, ma’am. I’ll have the order expedited for delivery tomorrow. Here’s the UPS tracking number.”
Hmmmm, tomorrow. Really? Tomorrow? The next day I clicked on the UPS tracking number and saw “Label printed.” The “Shipped” and “Delivered” bubbles were blank, as in nothing had been shipped, nothing delivered.
The next day the same thing.
The next day the same thing.
The third day, I’m back on the department store’s chat. “I need you to check on the status of my towels—now.” The agent confirmed there’d been a delay and very kindly offered to credit me the cost of my towels. NO, I typed in all caps, I JUST WANT MY TOWELS. The agent promised to resend.
For another 2 ½ weeks I fussed over those towels. I let my frustration creep into other aspects of my day. I let the deep blue of my missing order of new towels color other to-do’s—that were totally unrelated. I took out my anger—because now it’s anger; I took out my anger on people who were just trying to figure out what happened to my order of new towels and make it happen for me.
Last week I took matters into my own hands and went to the store—an actual store—and purchased the three sets of towels they had available, assuming I’d never see my towels, planning to go back again and again until I had my six sets. I came home to a UPS delivery of towels at my front door.
A Delivery of Kindness
Two days later I came home to another box of towels, this delivery made by the Operations Manager for a neighboring city. The box had been dropped off at their food bank and he’d taken it upon himself to make sure it got to me, driving some 10 miles to do so.
An act of kindness with a personal handwritten apology for his delay in getting the package to me. Ben had apologized to me. I quickly emailed Ben with my thanks. And then looking at my 15 sets of deep blue towels, I said out loud, “Dear God, what is going on with me. Change my heart. It was just an order of new towels.”
I was stunned at how quickly my frustration with a department store’s supply chain issues became an ALL CAPS moment online. Thinking back to the situation, I am appalled at the things I typed, things I’d never say in a phone call, much less at a Customer Service counter.
Words (and deeds) of loving kindness are easy when it’s easy. Words of loving kindness are not so easy when life gets harder. I got so focused on me and what I wanted—what I wanted right now—that I couldn’t even find the words and a couple minutes for a little courtesy.
I was going to make that department store deliver. Yes, really. And into my world stepped a stranger with a delivery of kindness, a stranger I’ve still never met. Underserved kindness, I might add.
Stuff happens. That’s easy for me to forget. What I won’t forget is Ben’s kindness.
For all of us, there will be moments of frustration, even anger, but into those challenging times, we can step in with a delivery of kindness—as a stranger, as a friend, as a parent or spouse. And together we can change not only the discourse, not only the dialog; we can change the moment. We can change the situation.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.”
Patient and kind, not arrogant or rude. I’m learning that.