And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Several members of my family work in customer service. My husband, one of my sons, one of my daughters, and my daughter-in-law all deal directly with people and have been trained to smile cheerfully and respond politely to whatever is thrown their way. The stories of what is thrown their way often leaves me with a dropped jaw and a sense of horror.

I was equally amazed during the early times of Covid, when everyone who could hunkered down at home. Most who worked customer service jobs could not work from home – they had to be where the items were that people continued to need, pandemic or not.

And pandemic or not, I think customer service people are heroes.

I had an experience this week with a customer service worker that left me comforted, laughing, and happy.

Over the weekend, I had to return a package to Amazon. At least here, Kohls department stores serve as a place to hand over returns to Amazon. So I went, but of course, I couldn’t just leave the store without poking around. That’s just not physically possible, especially since they put the booth for Amazon returns at the far back corner and you have to walk through the entire store to get to it. Smart. I found a style of leggings that I just loved, and on sale, which is my call to action. All of the colors weren’t available at the store, so when I went home, I hopped online to kohls.com. There were the leggings and there were the colors the brick and mortar store didn’t have…and for a dollar less! Ohmygod, I heard the trumpet call! I made my purchase and signed off.

The next day, I received an email that said my items shipped. Fast! But as I scrolled through the email, I found that my leggings were shipped to an Audrey Thomas in Michigan. What? As fast as that trumpet call sounded the day before, it now turned into a wailing siren. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! Was I hacked? Was this Audrey even now charging up my Kohls account to its max? I ran, if you can run to a website, to kohls.com and swiftly changed my password. Then I started scouring the account to see how I could stop the shipment…and there didn’t seem any way to do that.

Bear in mind this is around midnight on Monday. And it was a Monday that had been very, very, very long.

I was surprised to see the little icon for being able to talk to someone at Kohls via text. Expecting it to say that the system was closed for the night, I clicked it. And I was connected to someone named Anna. She greeted me as cheerfully as text can greet. I explained my problem and she set about seeing if there was any way to stop the delivery in Michigan. As she left me on pause to do that, my husband Michael wandered by. I explained what was happening.

“Wait,” he said. “Don’t you have a grand-niece named Audrey Thomas who lives in Michigan?”

Oh. My. God. I do. She is soon to be ten years old. She’s a very sweet munchkin.

When Anna came back, she explained that the last time I used kohls.com for an order, I sent a package to Audrey Thomas in Michigan. This was when Audrey was two years old, and was experiencing the joy of receiving not one brother, but two. Little baby twins. I sent the boys a package from another store, and then bought Audrey something special too, from Kohls, so she would also have something to open, just for her.

Eight years ago. I hadn’t ordered anything else from Kohls in eight years.

“Ohmygod,” I typed to Anna. “Can you stop stopping the delivery? I just realized that Audrey is my grand-niece. She lives in Michigan. Can the delivery still happen and I’ll just ask my nephew and niece-in-law to send it on to me?”

She answered, “LOL! And sure!”

“I’m so, so sorry,” I said. “I am so embarrassed!” And truly, though she couldn’t see it, my face was as red as could be, and tears were welling in my eyes.

“It’s okay!” she typed. “With all that’s happening in the world today, it’s easy to get lost in all the details. You’re fine! It’s all taken care of. And,” she added, “you gave us both a good laugh.”

I did. And I’m sure I gave my nephew and niece-in-law a good laugh too. Good grief.

“I’ll take care of it,” Anna said. Those are the sweetest five words ever spoken.

“Thank you,” I said. I wished we were in person, so she could see that gratitude on my face and hear it in my voice. But black and white texting would have to do.

“You’re more than welcome,” she said. “We had fun tonight! Thank you right back!”

And we signed off.

That extra warmth from a faceless, voiceless woman named Anna from who knows where allowed me to go to bed that night with a sigh of contentment. All the sirens were quieted. Everything was well. She could have handled it with just flat text, with no personality whatsoever. But she didn’t. She reached out with her words and provided comfort.

Thank you, Anna, wherever you are.

And Audrey, your great aunt Kathie did not forget you. I thought it was an incredibly odd coincidence that whoever this person was had my grand-niece’s name. I just never connected you with ordering grown-up leggings from Kohls, especially at a time of night when you were likely sound asleep.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

I didn’t want to include a photo of my grand-niece without permission, so here is a photo of me looking shocked, as I likely looked when I saw the email saying my order was being sent elsewhere.



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