On Memory

A man came in the store today.

I was a bit on the harried side–one of my employees called out distraught, the other wasn’t due in for a few hours–and I had customers on all sides. He asked me a question, I told him I would be right with him, and he began to browse.

I finished up with the two customers at the register, then looked back to the man that had asked the question. He’d found the game he wanted while waiting in the interim, and I apologized for not being able to get to him sooner because of the customers at the counter.

He then told me he owed me an apology.

I thought he meant the apology for asking me a question while I was working with a customer at the counter, and I told him not to worry about it.

No, he said. He told me his tale. About a year ago he had a customer service issue. He’d bought something, ran afoul of the return policy, and though I explained the issue with the return policy to him he yelled at me and acted like, in his words, “an asshole.”

I remembered none of this. I told him so. I see so many customers in a day. Remembering one customer a year on, even my memory’s not that good.

So I asked him–Did we get your problem resolved?

And we had. Ultimately I’d taken care of his issue.

There’s a lesson in this. What others remember, what they choose to remember, will astound you. For this guy his problem was perhaps one of the most important things in his world. It wasn’t an important thing in mine–I deal with issues like the one he described on a several-times-weekly basis.

But he came away satisfied, and that’s what matters in the end.

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