Kindness. Such a simple concept, yet inexplicably easy to forget in our day to day interactions.
I had a difference of opinion with a loyal customer about a week ago. I was nice, but firm.
Last night I crawled into bed at 1:30 AM, I was beyond weary. My work day had begun at 4:00 AM, website maintenance and bug fixes, followed by two car loads of packages, after that I sanded and stained propagation trays until 11:00 PM and after that I answered emails until I woke myself up with a mini keyboard concussion.
I followed that up by getting up before the sun and started another long day at the Farmhouse. Don't get me wrong, I love every minute of what I do, but some days I am weary before I get started. We all have those days and I am beyond blessed that I get the opportunity to make myself tired doing a job I adore.
This morning I thought for a moment I might check in with the customer I mentioned and let her know that even though we had our differences that I still wanted to be her friend and wanted to see how her succulents were doing. I logged onto IG and went to find her last message. It was missing. I had been blocked.
I don't know what it was about this particular act that I found so crushing. It wasn't lost potential revenue, I don't see our customers that way. But, something about it grated me. It felt mean-spirited and just really unkind. I had bent over backwards for this customer for months on end. Countless hours of answering questions. She comported herself as someone who genuinely wanted to be friends. And even though my schedule is crazy hectic I always tried to make time for her.
The issue was pretty simple. She would buy a succulent, say she didn't like this or that and hint around asking for a refund. I would usually oblige. I always assume the best intentions. This became such a frequent occurrence with this individual that I started requesting that she send the refunded plants back via a pre-paid return label. I would issue the labels and nothing was ever returned because she was trying to source her garden for free.
I had been warned about this customer from other sellers when I first got started… that's right, the rare succulent world is pretty niche and the retailers talk amongst themselves and do have each other's backs. It's a difficult business and most of the shop owners out there are phenomenal people who work very, very hard. I ignored their warnings and gave this person a benefit of the doubt, for six months.
The last shipment this customer got was beautiful, but I of course got an email saying that the farina chalk at the center of the rosette looked like mealy dust. I work too hard to potentially have my reputation put in question by an accusation of that magnitude. I issued her a refund and very politely asked that she find a new shop. In my mind an amicable break-up, I gave it the ol' "it's not you, it's me… can we still be friends?"
The point of sharing this story with you is you can try so hard and still not please everyone, but if I had it all over to do again I wouldn't change a thing. You learn from these experiences and kindness is always the right move. We're all human, we all have struggles and despite what our beautiful Instagram feeds would lead you to believe most days suck. That's life. But, if we can learn to be kind to one another we can become assets to each other and make those sucky days a little less sucky.
So I ask you today to try kindness on for size. Let that car in front of you in at the light, tip your barista for your morning cup of joe and open the door for someone. Not only does it feel genuinely good to be kind to someone else, but you never know what kind of day the other person might be having. Give each other the benefit of a doubt and always assume best intentions. Even though I had this one bad apple, the rest of the bushel is overwhelmingly sweet.