Patience is a Gift

When electric bikes went on sale at a local department store, my husband, Michael, and I bought two. They’d make riding on hilly trails easier. Leery about the cost, we compared our receipt to the store ad. Realizing we missed the better sale two days earlier and paid $250 more, we returned them. We already had bikes and legs to pedal the bikes and voices to go “Vroom! Vroom!” But we no longer had $1,707.98.

“You can’t be reimbursed until your check clears,” the cashier stressed. When nothing had been redeposited in our checking account after two weeks, I went back to the store with both the receipt and the return receipt.

I chose not to rage like hotheads who growl and spit and gnash their teeth about complaints while cashiers smile and bite their tongues until the smell of blood fills the air. In fact, I started a long term relationship with the customer service staff and became the store manager’s all time favorite nightmare.

After I gave the manager my receipts to inspect, she conferred with the district manager and said, “We spoke with corporate and requested they give your reimbursement priority, so you should receive a check within two weeks.” I thanked her and left.

A month went by and no check arrived, so I returned to the store. The manager told me, “I’m sorry but you’ll have to deal with corporate now. Here’s their phone number.” She jotted it on my receipt. Again, I thanked her and left.

When I dialed the number, it connected me to a call center in a galaxy far, far away. A representative answered and explained, “You haf to go back to duh store you buy dem from an’ you ask dem for duh money. They give it to you.” I thanked him and hung up.

I went back to customer service, where they now knew me as the bike lady, and they summoned the manager. “No,” she said. “Corporate has to release the check. We asked them to approve it and expedite it to you. Call corporate.” So I did.

When I told the representative that corporate agreed to refund my money within two weeks, he reverted to his Star Wars script and spoke in a droid-like tone. “What is your name? Yes, I see duh name. It is here. What is duh transaction number? Is dis your address? Hold on…. You haf to wait three months. Dat’s policy.”

“The Lord will fight for you; you have only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)

I remained still for two months and called back. The same representative asked for my information again and parroted, “Hold on…. Oh, yes, I see duh name. Hold on….You have to wait three months. Hold on… It’s not been three months.” My neuron cells spiraled into the call center’s suck-your-brains-out black hole.

After three months, I contacted my deep space phone pal again and reiterated, “The store manager assured me corporate would mail a refund in two weeks, not three months.” He insisted their reimbursement policy is three months and it won’t be three months for another several nanoseconds.

When I reconnected with him after four months, he took me on a trip down Memory Lane. “What is your name? Hold on…. I see your name on duh queue, yes. And dis your address? What is your transaction number? Hold on… Yes, I see duh amount of duh money. It is $1,707.98.”

“So, when will I be reimbursed? It’s been four months.” Then-click-my phone pal disconnected.

I called back and spoke with another polite space traveler. She asked the same questions, looked up the same information, and said in a friendly voice, “It’ll be three months before your reimbursement will be mailed.”

“Ma’am,” I said taking a deep breath, “I’ve already waited four months. Waiting another three months is not acceptable. You’re very nice, but being nice isn’t getting my money back. Please connect me with your supervisor.”

“That’s not possible,” she replied. I wanted to plunge bamboo shards into my ears.

“You and your coworkers are very kind,” I said. “Everyone at the department store is very kind. I don’t want to call the Better Business Bureau on a store that employs kind people, but you’re leaving me no choice.”

“The patient are better than warriors, and those who rule their temper, better than the conqueror of a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)

I didn’t call the Better Business Bureau on my call center buddies who weren’t responsible for making decisions to hand out lots of money. Instead, I returned to the store. I informed the manager that I hadn’t been reimbursed after four months of groveling and that corporate’s phone-a-friend insisted I had to wait another three months.

“Oh, no! This is not right! This is not right!” Her eyes bulged out so far I could have ring-tossed my car keys onto one of them. “You should not have to wait this long! I’ll call corporate immediately.”

Corporate told her the person(s) designated to approve the reimbursement request didn’t do it. Maybe their desk fell into a sink hole, or their pet alligator ate their hands, or their pen ran out of ink. Mistakes happen. Scripture says not to judge or condemn, but to forgive (Luke 6:37), so I forgave them for going to Maui with my money.

“The check will go out today,” the manager said. “So, look for it next week. I apologize for any inconvenience. I am so sorry!” I told her how much I appreciated her efforts.

Next week came and went and still no check arrived, so the manager made another call to corporate. They verified that they had just mailed the check and it should be delivered within a week.

“That’s it!” the store manager huffed. “I’m giving you a gift card! Stay right here!” She returned with a $100.00 store gift card. As she handed it to me, she said, “You are a saint! Anyone else would have ripped off my face! I would not have been as patient as you. No way.”

Galatians 6:9 tells us, “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.”

Our check for $1,707.98 arrived the following week. The next day I returned to the store to enjoy a shopping spree with the gift card. Of course, I asked my customer service BFFs to get the manager so I could tell her I received the check. They paged her and added, “Come to the customer service desk for some good news!”

Patience is a precious gift from God. Sharing it with the frazzled store manager showed her I understood and empathized with her situation and the limitations of the call center representatives. Hopefully, the next time I’m someone’s nightmare, they’ll wake up sooner.

By patience is a ruler persuaded, and a soft tongue can break a bone.”

Proverbs 25:15 NAB

“Long-suffering results in great wisdom; a short temper raises folly high.”

Proverbs 12:29, NAB

“Do not let anger upset your spirit, for anger lodges in the bosom of a fool.

Ecclesiastes 7:9, NAB

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