TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
I cheated the other day.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, I am always the guy scrambling at the last minute.
Oh, I went a couple years where I shopped throughout the year — but still ended up physically removing hair trying to get those last minute goodies for my family and friends.
And then, typically, my Christmas Eve is spent in a flourish of wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and tape trying to get everything wrapped up.
Well, as I was doing a bit of shopping this past Monday on a rare day off, I was pleased with myself for having gotten a bit ahead of the game this year.
I mean, I had eight days still to go.
So as I was leaving the mall I noticed a little kiosk set up — and the people behind the kiosk were surrounded by ribbons, bows, tape and wrapping paper.
It looked like a gift-wrapping club — and I approached the people there and asked.
Sure enough, it was a gift-wrapping group — they were volunteering in order to raise money for a local charity.
People requesting their wrapping services just had to provide a donation, of any kind.
Well, that sounded like a good plan to me — so I piled about six bags or so on the counter with a smattering of items to be wrapped.
The majority of the volunteers were high school students, and from what I could gather, this was a community service project for them.
I thought that was really nice, and everyone who was working there was very kind and seasonally happy.
The group of eight or so volunteers were carrying on, and we were all chatting away, and in the meantime I was saving a bunch of time getting gifts wrapped for me. Now you know how I cheated.
Anyway, as I was standing there, an older man approached the kiosk — and his face was plastered with a Grinch-like look.
One of the young ladies turned to ask for help — and his response sort of killed the immediate mood.
He stood there, demanding they have regular hours posted. He explained he didn’t think it was right to have to drive all the way across town when all they had to do was wrap one gift. He also didn’t understand why they didn’t have a phone number that he could call.
He was acting like a complete jerk, and these poor kids really didn’t know what to tell him. They explained it was a volunteer project in which they were involved.
Well, there should have been better organization, he said, then asked who was running this mess.
It took everything I had not to turn on him. I couldn’t believe how rude this man was getting, and it didn’t look like it was getting better.
But instead, I decided to take a higher road — slightly higher.
I leaned over the counter, and in a loud voice I said I hope you all eventually have a very Merry Christmas. Good luck with your customer service endeavors.
He gave me a look, and I returned one to him.
It may not have made him any happier — but thankfully for those volunteers, it shut him up.
And then, of course, I had a wonderful run-in with customer service, right here in the city of Corbin. I had a stack of more than 30 Christmas cards written out — and not one stamp on them.
I carried them over to the post office in Corbin, and stood in a short line.
I got to the woman behind the counter (and I do wish I had her name) and requested the stamps I needed.
She did her postal duties and took my money — and then she went above and beyond.
“I’ll put those on there for you,” she said.
“Oh, no,” I said. “You really don’t have to do that.”
“Oh it’s ok,” she replied. “I can do this on my down time.”
Impressed wasn’t even close to my reaction — I thanked her profusely and will do so again the next time I get the opportunity to see her.
If you’re one of those Last-Minute Lucys or Last-Minute Larrys getting ready to shop for Christmas, good luck. And if you come across a customer service person who’s willing to go above and beyond the call of duty — thank them.
Because if anyone in retail customer service has kept the Christmas spirit this late in the game, they deserve a medal.
To you and yours, have a very Merry Christmas.
John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.