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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: Island of Goodwill
By Lisa Graham


Customer service is often replaced by lip service, with about the same value as a tube of lipstick accidentally left in a hot car. But I was recently surprised to witness a very special encounter, which warmed my heart and perhaps it will inspire others on both sides of a sale.

The elderly lady standing at the cosmetics counter was decked out in a bright woolen hat cocked at a jaunty angle on steel-grey hair above a sparkling set of brilliant blue eyes.

Chattering like a magpie, she told a tale of a recent internet purchase, an experience that was fraught with ill-prepared salespeople, a defective product, unsuccessful phone calls and numerous attempts at returning the item to ensure proper credit. She wasn’t complaining - she was simply recounting this story to show her appreciation to the ladies at the cosmetics counter for taking the time to listen to her with patience and kindness.

As she recounted her tale, she was interrupted and forced to wait patiently as customers drifted by, but the two sales ladies encouraged her to stay and “hold the thought” while they took care of others. After sales transactions were completed, they returned to the older lady and asked her to continue her story. They were not just being “good sports” or paying her lip service. They actually gave her their undivided attention, a gift that obviously meant the world to a sweet lady. She shone with radiance, basking in the light of people who were genuinely interested, listening to what she had to say. “What a beautiful lady,” a passerby commented. Several of us agreed. Her sweet smile was a shining beacon encouraging us all to smile and speak to each other.

The light in the older lady’s eyes was lit by two salesladies who deeply cared, and their sweet spirit served as a wonderful example to other customers. I overheard strangers complimenting each other. Busy shoppers lingered longer, sampling products and offering suggestions to help the older lady resolve her problem. All the while, the two salesladies were never far from her side, acknowledging her as they assisted others. Not once, did she feel left out.

A simple cosmetics counter became an island of goodwill in a crowded mall filled with harried people.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart09/16/07
This account is priceless. There have been times when I stood at a counter and felt like an intruder. Love the attention this lady received. Your descriptions made me feel I was part of the encounter. Excellent writing.
Jan Ackerson 09/16/07
Love the lipstick metaphor in the first sentence, and the whole piece was utterly charming.
Dee Yoder 09/17/07
We all wish we could be treated in such a special way by sales staff! Very nice entry. It's well written and it's a charming story, too!
Joy Faire Stewart09/20/07
Congratulations on your placement. This is a very unique take on the topic...love the title!
Janice Cartwright09/20/07
I'm so glad you wrote this great little slice of life. I too have noted how cheer, kindness, appreciation, and good can take on a life of itself and spread outward. The fact that you presented a complete story with so few words attests to your skill as a writer. Congratulations.