I am the grouchiest soul on earth. I swear I am. I copyrighted the art of Creative Bitching. I gripe, caustically, about damn near everything. I utter a low growling noise in my throat when I see most of my neighbors and make the evil eye at dogs and children.
So I do not get this at all.
I had to ask Tommaso the bank teller a question about my linked accounts, and he was a little uncertain about the answer, and said he really would feel better about it if I asked his manager, who wasn’t busy. One thing led to another and we ended up submitting an application to renew the line of credit I carry on my house, which has been a lifesaver a couple of times and could be again if my 22-year-old car turns up its tires unexpectedly (you can’t live without a car in greater Washington, D.C. the way you can in London or New York; my European visitors wouldn’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw up if I elaborated on the details).
The manager is a cheerful Peruvian lady named Isabel, who actually seemed to be having fun with the whole process, and as we wrapped it up I thanked her for the way that everyone at that bank branch always takes good care of me. It’s the simple truth; I am in there twice a week, year round, and they know me and help me. The flip side of being grouchy is showing some appreciation when people get it right. Nothing fancier than that.
“It is a pleasure because you bring such good energy in here,” she said. I do? WTF? I’m just civil, and patient, and treat the tellers like people. I’ve been behind too many counters and registers; it’s one of the reasons I’m such a pessimist about the human race.
She squeezed my hand instead of just shaking it, repeating something about good energy, and I swear, I choked up. I mean, most years during Christmas week, my forays into public places involve dodging ruthless, hurried people prepared to steamroller me in the name of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. Isabel slid the papers into an envelope, came around the desk and gave me a hug.
I really think that is a first in my experience of bank lobbies.
The expressions in the teller line were indescribable.