A couple weeks ago, I was in a flower shop, buying flowers for myself so that others would think someone loved me. I was browsing, trying to remember what my favorite color was, when a lady entered in a perfect fury. She was seething, livid, beside herself with rage because the arrangement she had received six days prior had begun to wilt. She wanted a new arrangement to replace it, and she expected that it would be free of charge.
It’s moments like these that make me wish I could step behind the counter.
ME: So let me understand correctly. You’re mad because your flowers are wilting?
ANGRY LADY: Yes! I don’t know what kind of business you run, but –
ME: You do know the flowers were dead when you got them, right?
ANGRY LADY: Excuse me?
ME: The flowers. They were dead when you got them. We killed them to send them to you. You know that, right?
ANGRY LADY: Well of course I know that.
ME: They were pretty happy living their lives, you know? Weren’t bothering anybody, just quietly producing oxygen so that you and me could stay alive. And then we killed them because somebody somehow likes you and wanted you to be happy. Which worked like gangbusters, I can see.
ANGRY LADY: How dare you –
ME: All due respect, ma’am, but you’re mad because your dead flowers had the nerve to eventually start looking like they’re dead. That’s tends to be what dead things do.
ANGRY LADY: So you’re not going to give me a new arrangement?
ME: Well, we have some more dead flowers in the back. Some of them look especially dead. You can have as many of those as you want. They’re in a trash can.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be mean to everybody. I don’t want to be mean at all, in fact. But there are plenty of people who could use a little honesty in their lives. At the very least, it would prevent them from thinking they can get anything they want just by yelling.
However, that’s not what happened. The store manager apologized and gave her a discount on a new arrangement. Which got me thinking – maybe her approach would work in other businesses.
So I tried. I took an apple core back to the grocery store and demanded a new one to replace it because mine had been eaten by somebody (me, but I didn’t say so). I also took my car back to the dealership and demanded a new one because somebody had put 143,000 miles on mine. Imagine my surprise when I walked away without a new apple or a new car!
Maybe I’m doing it wrong…