The Extra Mile

Story 1

It started out when my co-workers and I went out for lunch. It was an unusual French lunch as we made a quick run to McDonald’s (Macdo), which happens to be attached to a gas-station. Anyway, when we got inside and in line we were surprised when a lady with her two young boys came barging in and cut us. Like any normal person would be, we were a little ticked. Her kids sat at the nearest table and we just looked at each other and rolled our eyes.

Then this lady has the balls to turn around and say “oh were you guys here first?” With a tone of voice that rang out “even if you were I don’t care, I just want you to know I acknowledge the fact I cut you.” Now we were really mad, not only because she being rude but she knew it. She ordered, as did we after her. But of course her kids took the last table in the restaurant. We stood patiently in the corner of the room, waiting for a table to clear up.

The first table to clear up? You guessed it. The one right next to this horribly rude women. We start to walk over with a sigh. What does she do? Takes the chairs from that table moves them to her table and sets her purse and jacket on them.

Ok lady you win!  We didn’t want to sit next to your arrogance anyway, it would have ruined my appetite. We waited 5 more minutes for another table and all was well.

Story 2

As you may know I am in Paris right now but I am leaving for London tonight. I bought a train ticket to London the first week I was here. Paid and taken care of. I ended up losing my credit card a week later to a few bottles of wine and a blurry cab ride.

Tuesday I went to the SNCF boutique to pick up my train ticket. When I got there no one spoke English (which is good I need to practice my French) making a technical situation tougher. Of course I needed the original card for them to print out the ticket and in my broken French I explained to them I don’t have that card anymore it doesn’t exist. They said too bad they couldn’t help me.

Wednesday comes and I call on the help of my best friend here Phil (fluent in french) to help me. He is pleased to help and we go to a different boutique. This time the lady behind the counter says I don’t need the old card, just the card number and expiration date, she can type it in manually and print the ticket. I call my dad (who usually takes a beating when I am in stressful situations, sorry dad, I love you). He explains to me it is the same 12 numbers as the new card with a different last four and he provides the last four of the old on.

I give the teller the number but it doesn’t work. She instructs me to go to the head office at the train station and see if I can get a refund then repurchase the ticket on the new card. Ugh. I make the half hour metro ride to the international train station (Gare du Nord) along, Phil has done his good deed for the day. Navigate my way through crowds of people, wait in line to talk to a new teller and of course I get stuck with one who is already in a terrible mood. I saw her yelling at the person in front of me and I prayed I would not get her as my teller, but i did.

Before I got to the train station I called my chase bank back home in Chicago and asked for the card number and expiration date, my dad was one number off. Bigger Sigh.

I get to the Window and the woman asks “Yes?” I explain to her my situation and she immediately throws her pen and stomps off… OK? This is not going too well. She gets her manager and they explain to me that everything I am requesting is impossible. I try to tell them, well the boutique said you guys could help me. There response? ” Go back to the fucking boutique then.” I choked back tears but walked away with my head held high. I promised myself if I ever worked in public service I would do my very best to be positive everyday.

Overwhelmed, I thought I am never going to get this ticket. I won’t get to go to London. I am going to lose at least 300 euro. But I knew that being an 18 year old in a foreign country alone and not speaking much of the language comes with these territories. No one wants to help me. No one has the patience.

Now that I had the right card number I marched back to the boutique and hoped they wouldn’t be annoyed that I was trying again. They weren’t. They were more then happy to retry with the new number I brought them. It worked!!!! Finally a sigh of relief instead of frustration. I was so thankful and they really appreciated my pure joy. They knew they made my day and even my week. The ticket printed and I almost cried.

Crisis averted.

All of this drama in one day. I was exhausted. I  was thankful but I really wanted to show those people at the boutique how much they helped me. How truly thankful I was for their simple act of kindness. Instead of being like the lady at McDonald’s or the lady at the train station, they did not think about themselves before me. They knew the fix was a little annoying for them, they had to go out of their way but fixing it for me meant a week in London, an experience I would never forget.

 

When I am in London I will make sure to get them something little from the Olympics and bring it to their office with a nice note. Show them my appreciation.
After having a rough day I get to come back to this blog and vent about it, let go of all my frustrations and reread what happened. From there I get to reflect on the situation. How would I have changed things? How would I have acted in their shoes? What can I do next time to avoid the mess?

This blog, as well as most blogs, serves as a mirror. We get the opportunity, if we wish, to relive the good and the bad and take away the lessons we were meant to take away.

Yesterdays lesson: Go the extra mile. Whether that be for strangers I can help, in my relationships, in my work and school. Always go the extra mile.