I apologize for my behavior. I bet you never thought you’d hear that, hmm?
Well, I mean it. I really am sorry that I sat in your drive-thru line for 12 minutes at 8:00 PM. It wasn’t even busy. I’m sorry that when you finally gave me my food, you just thrust the bag at me and said, “here”.
I’m guessing it isn’t your fault that you have shitty customer service skills. You’re, what? 16? 17? You’re a child. You still have a lot to learn and, while the training program may be fantastic, that doesn’t mean that you’ve learned the best way to handle customers.
I’ve worked in customer service my entire life. I’ve chosen to make it my life’s work. And, Drive-thru boy, I’m really good at it. I pride myself on being good with customers, on knowing exactly what to say in any given situation. I’ve achieved the ability to diffuse a nasty situation with a thoughtful remark, a well-placed quip, or a sincere apology. But, it has taken time. I didn’t gain these skills overnight–and, Lord knows, I didn’t have them, in full, when I was sixteen.
So, it isn’t like I expected much of you. Still, I enjoy being surprised. I like it when children like you act with maturity and do the right thing in a given situation, letting me know there is hope for the future.
Then, we have you.
It was a minor annoyance. It was long past peak time for dinner and well before the drunken munchies would come roaring through. I should have been in and out. Instead, it took me 12 minutes. That’s not a significant amount of time in the whole of the universe, but slightly draggy for McDonalds. When I finally inched up to the 2nd window, there you were. You made me wait. You didn’t say you’d be right with me. You never made eye contact. Then, after what seemed an interminable amount of time, you creaked open that window and thrust a crumpled bag in my direction.
Nothing else. Not even eye contact or embarrassed chagrin.
I ripped open the bag to check the contents and the fries weren’t even fresh. I lost my cool.
I yelled at you. Do you remember me now? Or is it run of the mill to have people yell at you in the drive-thru lane?
I said, “Really? Not even a ‘thank you’ or a ‘sorry for the wait’?” And I glared, right into your unshaven, peach-fuzzy, face. I stared you down. Or, I would have, if you’d had the gumption to look at me. I watched your eyes nervously dart in every direction that was not my angry face. When enough tense, terse, silence had overtaken us, I gave my temper full rein and snarled in your direction.
And then I squealed my tires as I drove away. Do you remember me now? Did you think, “what a bitch”, as I drove away? It’s okay if you did. I was a bitch. I can’t recall being that deliberately rude in my entire life. As I drove away, I was ashamed of my behavior.
I get that you don’t know me. And you probably don’t care. You might have just shrugged it off. But that is not me. I am not that person who verbally abuses teenagers (or anyone, really) because I’m having a bad day. There is no excuse for my deplorable actions. I was just wrong. And I am very sorry.
I keep thinking how I would have felt. I was once a teenage girl, working in customer service. Bagging groceries, telemarketing, cashiering, it doesn’t matter the job. I was once that girl. If me-from-back-then had to wait on me-from-this-story, she would have been upset. Visibly, as she had to wait on the next customer. She would know that the job doesn’t stop because someone upset you or was rude to you, but that doesn’t mean she would have liked it. She would have finished her shift and gone home. She would have told her parents what happened and let them comfort her that sometimes people just say the wrong thing and it is no one’s fault.
I know she would have reacted that way, because me-from-this-story hasn’t changed that much. I called my mom. I told her what I had done and I let her tell me it’s going to be okay. That everyone has a breaking point. But, I couldn’t feel better. Wanna know why?
Because I could picture you, Drive-thru boy, going home at the end of the night and telling your mom how some mean lady in a Cadillac was rude to you, very rude, for no reason at all. You didn’t even do anything wrong.
It’s true, you know, that everyone does have a breaking point. I might have reached mine that Saturday night, at 8:00 pm. But that doesn’t mean I was justified. I was being self-centered and letting the world around me shake what I know to be right. I know better, but I did it anyway. I let loose my life’s frustrations on you. And it didn’t make me feel better. In fact, it made me feel so much worse. When I think of that moment, I get a pit in the center of my stomach. That’s not new, I’ve been feeling it for weeks, but when I think of you, and my bad behavior, the pit grows. It comes to life and it growls and writhes and makes me well aware that I did something wrong.
That’s not to make me feel better. That’s the truth. I’m sorry for what I did. I won’t do it again. It wasn’t your fault and it didn’t help. Lesson learned. If you’re lucky, you’ll never understand. That’s what I hope for you.
If I see you again, Drive-thru boy, I will apologize in person. I’d rather you think of me as “that weird lady” rather than “that rude bitch” but that is beside the point. You deserve to hear it, and, I think, I need to say it.
Thanks for listening.
And the fries were really awful. (but, that’s Karma for you…)