Life Lesson #1: It Costs $0 to be Nice
Last night, I drove home from work crying. At the time, I was rather confused as to why. I had a normal shift until the last five minutes, during which one of my managers asked me if I remembered a customer from the previous night. She showed me an email written to Ulta customer service in which the customer said that I was rude, condescending, and glared at her because she wanted to split a transaction because she wanted to give the products she was buying as gifts. In the conclusion of her short statement, she recommended that Ulta “reconsider my employment” because she deemed my behavior unacceptable there, or in any retail job. Her statements were false.
Though I do not remember exactly the interaction with this customer, I know that I was not rude or condescending to any customers. I did not glare at any customers that night, or ever. What I do remember, is that there was a customer with her name that came in. There was a customer that wanted to split a transaction to use two coupons, something I was told we are not allowed to do. I apologized and said that I could not do it. She seemed a bit annoyed but left without making a big fuss. This was not the first time that this situation occurred since I started working at Ulta in July, but this was the first time I heard something back about it.
After reading the statement and telling my manager that I was sure it was about the coupons, she told me that she didn’t think it sounded like me, and that she was, in no way, reconsidering my employment. She also added that I was not in any sort of trouble. I followed up by asking her about the coupon situation, actively trying to figure out what I had done wrong and how to fix it in the future.
We closed up the store, I got in my car, and started on my short drive home but started crying at some point. It took until Luke came home from work for me to finally understand what I was feeling. This woman, someone who has next to no impact on my life, attacked my character, not knowing me at all. Have I been rude and condescending to people in my life? Yes, who hasn’t? I will be the first one to admit that I’m not always a nice person. But over the years, I’ve tried to fix this. Other than “positive outcomes only,” the other motto I live by is simply “don’t be a dick.” Much in the same way I am fighting the internalized misogyny I have been ingrained with, I am fighting being a horrible person.
Many people will tell you being mean is easier than being nice. Obviously, if the current state of the government is anything to go by, this is true. I’ve stated this for many years in conversations with friends, family, and anyone that would listen. It is something that I preached about on my radio show at The University of Tampa. I wish I could be a bitch. You can get what you want much easier because you can step on, and over, people without giving it a second thought. You can use them, you can degrade them, it doesn’t matter. I’ve never been this kind of person.
However, I am not 100% nice. I’ve talked about friends behind their backs. I’ve not supported friends when it benefitted me. I’ve not supported friends when it hasn’t benefitted me. I have, for no reason other than I am petty and like drama, criticized people, their looks, their life choices. I am not 100% nice and I do not claim to be. Again, this is something I am working on.
This customer however, did not write that she didn’t like my hair. She did not write that I was too ugly to work at a make-up store. She did not write that I didn’t let her use coupons so she was mad she couldn’t get another $5 off of her purchase. She lied and called for corporate, and my managers, to terminate my employment at a job that I actually really enjoy. She told them that, in a heavily customer service role, I showed poor customer service.
I’ve had customers unhappy with me in this role. It happens, you can’t make everyone happy. Every other time, I’ve brushed it off. This time it stuck. It was because, as Luke explained to me, she lied and attacked my character. According to her statement, she was not unhappy with the policy, as other customers have been. She was unhappy with me. Even though I have had many customers very happy with me- a teenager hugged me, another woman brought us samples of her product (I’m not allowed to say what) because she had a fight with her partner and we helped her feel better before she went back home- but this occasion had me in tears.
This got me thinking about my future and what I am trying to do with it. Since I was young I have wanted to be famous. The reasons for this have changed over the years. When I was younger, I wanted to be famous because it seemed glamorous. As I’ve gotten older, the reason has changed to the fact that I simply want to have a voice. While this is still a dream for me (part of why I’m going to start making videos again) I had another dream: working for the Events Team at Rooster Teeth.
Not only is Rooster Teeth in the gaming community, one known to be less than cordial towards women, they are also an internet-based company, another community known not to be nice to women. This has always been a reservation in my mind, but it was one I was sure I could get past. I always thought that because a) I’d have a strong community of women behind me and b) I’ve generally had thick skin in the past, I would have less of a problem with the online abuse than some others. Now I don’t know that that is true. This incident has caused me to, once again, reconsider my life and what I’m going to do with it.
In a few days, weeks, months, I will get over this incident. I will laugh about the extreme that this woman went to to call for my termination over a coupon. I will have more amazing encounters with customers that love me and the service that I give them. I will make even better relationships with my managers, proving to them further that I am not the person this woman alleged that I am. It will not keep me down. But it will still be a fact of my life, and an event in it. It will still be something I have to think about, something that could very well shape my future. This customer was mad that she couldn’t save an extra $5 on her purchase, so she felt it worthy of her time to lie and call for me to be fired. She could have spent $0 to just be nice.