When I answered the phone I could hear the almost explosive anger in her voice. She had called to ask how we had arrived at 96 square feet of tile on her order. To be clear, whenever someone calls or comes in to order tile for a project, we always advise the customer to order at least 10% more for cuts and waste. Even though your wall needs 85 square feet, there will always be cuts involved when the installer finally installs your tile.
Usually, if the tile contractor has sent them in, he or she has included that 10% in the number they give to their client. Today she had her contractor in the background telling her what she had was not enough.”I want to know how you arrived at this 96 sq ft number!” she barked. When a person calls on the phone, it’s important to listen to what they are asking and repeat it back to make sure you have understood what they are asking. When they are ANGRY, it is doubly important to stay calm and listen and assure them you will do your best to answer their question.
“Okay ma’am,” I said, as politely as possible. “Let me pull up your order on my computer and we’ll take a look.” In my company computer system, we find orders by the phone number under which it was ordered and, so I asked her, “May I have the phone number you used to order the tile please?” “OMG!” she screamed, “I already TOLD you my name!” I paused for just a moment to give a beat before I explained, but before I could even get a word out, she said, “Just look it up under my name!”Fortunately, our phone system gives the number she was calling from so, I took a chance and sure enough, she came up in the system.
I scrolled down to her name and pulled up the order. She had several different tiles on her order and I began scanning the screen for the one that had 96 sq ft. I named the tile and she said, “Yes already!” “HOW DID YOU CALCULATE THE SQ FOOTAGE…DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH YOU CONDESCENDING LITTLE MAN?”
A broad grin came across my face instantly and I was grateful for the anonymity of the phone so she could not see my amusement. I instantly knew this was a test and that God was watching. I’ve been here before. When you work with the public, it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine and unicorns…people are short with you, yell at you and become very defensive…ESPECIALLY when they suspect they have been cheated…or shorted.
I didn’t respond to her anger or insult…I just began saying.”Okay, the tile you are talking about is _________ and is 16 x 16 inches. there are 54 tiles total for this tile.” She interrupted me,”I KNOW that…I know what I have…” I tried to tell her that I was going to explain to her how we reached the number but she kept talking over me…she didn’t want to listen, she wanted to get to the part where we had cheated her or failed to ship her the correct amount of tile.
In my attempt to speak while she was speaking, she shouted over the phone, “Stop yelling at me!” This lady was laboring under a severe issue of conclusion jumping, had zero social skills over the phone, and wanted to attack me. She really didn’t want an explanation, but I proceeded anyway. “16 x 16 equals 256. Multiplied by 54 equals 13,824 INCHES” I emphasized the word “Inches”. she became quiet. I continued, “13,824 inches divided by 144″ (the total of 1 square foot) equals 96 feet.” I could tell her contractor was doing the math on his phone calculator in the background. I heard him say, “Oh, yeah, I guess that’s right…he’s right, he sent us the right amount of tile.”
However, she STILL wanted to recover from her error or; even worse in her opinion, not having understood the process. Pride goes before the fall. I listened to her quietly, careful to say NOTHING…just listened. “Well, a, the a, I can’t stand that you yelled at me!” I hadn’t at any time raised my voice to her, I hadn’t once been angry with her, but now she was embarrassed and wanted to blame me for…something!
I attempted to defuse her embarrassment. “I’m sorry it appeared that I raised my voice with you, ma’am. I think we were both talking at once and I may have spoken a bit louder so you could hear me…but I hope you feel we have answered your question.” There was a pause. An angry spirit doesn’t want to be defused…it wants to dump piles of poop on your good work shoes. It wants to ruin your day, it wants to make you as mad as the person yelling at you.
I refuse…and once again, moving in the opposite spirit piles the poop back on the sender…without even trying. If we realized the power we have with the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we would bust up entire networks of demons. Patience and humility throw cold water, a wet blanket…whatever, on that anger. (“a fool gives full vent to his anger”) A soft word breaks the bone…
She was silent still. I waited…at this point, the next one that talked was the loser. “I guess I was wrong…I guess…a ” I stopped her. Ma’am, please don’t think another thing about it, I’m so glad we could resolve the problem.” Still quiet on the other side of the phone, I heard her step outside the door, apparently outside of her house because I heard street noises.
I heard her whisper into the phone like something was choking her. “I am sorry…I…a …I don’t know why I got so mad…I have been cheated before. Men think women are stupid and take advantage.
There was a paradigm shift at that moment. Here was a woman, who had been taken advantage of by other salespeople, and closing my eyes and shaking my head, it was obviously a man or men who had done it. I could tell this was a completely different woman than the one who had been screaming at me minutes before. What I mean is it was the same woman, but a completely different personality was coming over the phone.
She was broken, and said, “I can’t believe I’ve let people do that to me…and here I am taking it out on a man who was sincerely trying to help me!” Something inside told me to be quiet still. I listened and she said, “I do not know you…I do not think you were the one who sold me the tile…were you?” I told her no, it had been another salesperson.
Without her telling me, what had happened I just blurted out, “God is the defender of the widow and the orphan.” She sat quietly on the other side of the phone listening. “From now on, when you go to do business and a man is overbearing, do not get angry, just walk away and ask God to be your defender…ask HIm to protect you from deception and lies…and He will.”Her voice came alive.
“How did you know I was raised a Christian?” I said, “I didn’t know, but what I DO know is that God is the defender of all who fear Him and call upon His name.” she explained her husband had been an abusive man, even to the point of trying to make her intimate with other men. She had refused and he had finally left her. No children from the marriage which I had told her was a blessing. When she was getting ready to end the call, she asked me how to return to God…after being very disobedient.
I prayed for her, told her it was EASY…just ask the Lord to forgive you and be sure to forgive the men who had abused and cheated her in the past. And then the best part of the whole conversation.”I’m going back….I’m going to stop being a victim and allow God to be my protector…and I’m going to run back.”
I left the store in the rain that day…but the sun was shining. “I saw raindrops on my window, joy is like the rain. Laughter runs across my pain, slips away, and comes again, joy is like the rain.”