I have this regular caller to the complaint line I answer on a daily basis. He’s what I like to call a “frequent flyer” or in this case, a frequent complainer. He’s one of those people that believes it’s him against the world and everything is a battle. Well, that’s my very limited view of him. For today’s purpose, I’ll call him “Sal.”
Sal is an older white man filled with anger, bitterness and extreme racist views.
My first call with Sal was one with him yelling and whining about a change the company had made and it didn’t meet with his satisfaction. The change was a small one but that didn’t matter. He demanded the change not occur that we continue with the old way. I apologized to him but the change was going to take place – it was written in stone, so to speak – and no amount of complaining on his part would change it. Oh, he did not like that! He does what all stubborn people do when they’re told something they don’t like – demanded to speak to a supervisor. When I refused to transfer him because, I told him, the answer would be the same as what I gave him, he launched into a racist-tinged tirade and I had to tell him if he didn’t stop I would disconnect the call. Usually when I tell someone that, I get one of two reactions – the person stops how they’re speaking and become a regular human again or, as it was with Sal, they continue on in their expletive- or racist-filled speeches. When I warned him again, he hung up on me.
The next day, dear Sal called again. After I said my greeting – the first words out of his mouth were, “Oh, it’s you. You’re not worth anything.” I was somewhat taken aback – a customer hasn’t told me something that potentially hurtful in a long time (or, maybe they have and I’ve just gotten used to it). I said the first thing that came to my mind – and with a definite sarcastic tone in my voice, I said, “Well, thank you for the compliment.”
He said it wasn’t a compliment and launched headlong into his next complaint. When he came up for air, I asked him in a very snarky tone, “Well, since you think I’m worthless, do even want me to bother taking this complaint?” Sal said he did and he continued on with his b*tch-fest. When he was finally done and hung up, I was quite upset at what he said to me. I called my supervisor to vent – and that’s when she told me how badly he treats all the representatives he talks to.
Afterward, I asked God to bless Sal. That’s all I could manage as wounded as I was.
The next time Sal called he was his usual mean and angry self but by then I had spent several days praying about the situation and about him so I felt better equipped to handled his hatred. After he finished berating me he started in on other employees – nothing directly racial this time but plenty of innuendos. As I listened to him I thought about how hurt Sal is. The wound he inflicted on me is nothing compared to the wounds he must be carrying around. He is angry, bitter, vengeful, full of hatred and in extreme pain; but above all, he is afraid. Fear rules his life and he strikes out at anything and everything in his path.
Now that I have that greater understanding of Sal, I am better able to pray for him. His is afraid and hurting and knows no other way to be.
It is then incumbent upon me to treat him with kindness instead of snarkiness; to be patient with him without letting him abuse me; and to pray for him, blessing him and not cursing him.
Its’ hard to bless someone when they’ve told you your worthless. But bless Sal I must – for the good of his soul and mine. There but for the grace and love of God go I.
Let Love be without lies. Avoid what is evil. Cling to what is good.
Be kind to one another, and giving preference to one another, continuing this through your work, and be excited by serving the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, patient during troubled times, praying always.
Take care of the needs of others.
And bless those who are cruel to you; bless them, pray for them, but do not curse them.
Romans 12:9-14, as interpreted by Sabina after the NKJV