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The Day I Found Out I Was A Nice Guy

April 1, 2016

Have you ever watched one of those scenes where the poor guy gets a plate of food dumped on him? Or had a glass of beer dumped on him? Or had a waitress drop a full glass of Coke that then shattered and went all over him? Was the victim angry? Did they laugh? Did they start yelling? And did you think “Here’s how I would act in that situation”? 

It’s been a busy week for me. We had a big deadline at our new call center. Thursday was the day our client was on site to tell us if we passed the audit. We’ve been working for two weeks like crazy to get ready. Wednesday, the day before the audit, we had all hands on deck. The final step in bringing up a call center floor is actually putting the computers on the desks and then installing software on the computers. It’s always the last step and it’s always up against the clock. We were up all night on Wednesday. Well, the desktop engineers were up all night. At 4:00AM I headed back to my hotel to get a couple of hours sleep since I would need to meet with the client on Thursday. All in all, it was about a 20 hour, followed by three hours of sleep and then a high pressure client visit. 

We passed our audit with flying colors. The hard work in the past two weeks paid off, and the relief was palatable. After the client left, we thanked the teams involved and those of us on the project team headed out to dinner at a local casino called “Margaritaville.” 

I was exhausted. But, as I wrote earlier this week, the team dinners are an important part of any project team. The casino allows smoking inside. After living in a state with no smoking in buildings, it took some adjusting. I was tired, hungry and now my eyes were smarting from the smoke.

I don’t drink or smoke or gamble. But, I really enjoy the team I work with. As dinner continued, we made multiple trips to the buffett lines. The food was very good, crabs, ribs, salads, clams, Chinese and dozens of others I didn’t have a chance to try. 

And then it happened. From the corner of my eye I noticed a server approaching. I never saw what she tripped on. But, the glass of Coke she was carrying smashed into the table, showering me with broken glass, ice and Coke. I sat there in shock as the server simply stood dumbfounded, her face looking like “I can’t believe that happened,” or maybe, “I think I just lost my job.” 

So, what would you do? I was soaked. 

The server disappeared and quickly reappeared with towels and napkins and a flood of apologies. “I so sorry.” “Are you okay?” My team just stared at me and waited for my reaction.

I could be mad.

No one would have been surprised if I yelled.

I could have.

I didn’t. 

It’s fine. But, you know if I thought you did that on purpose, I would be SO upset!

 And then I smiled and started to laugh. The server cleared my ruined meal away. 

What did you have and I’ll get you another serving.

No, that’s okay. I can get some more. Accidents happen.

My team was a little surprised at my reaction. In fact, I was more than a little surprised at my reaction. I know the server was surprised, and probably a little suspicious. After I had retrieved another platefull of surprisingly good clams, I noticed the server approach out table again. 

Hey, could I get another Coke?. . .In a glass this time? 

She quickly reappeared with my refill. And I could tell that I had finally put her at ease with her response.

Here you go. . In a glass this time.

Am I a nice person? Are you a nice person? How would you know? We don’t often have the opportunity where those around us would consider us perfectly justified in losing our temper. Not just those around us, but the subject of our anger might even feel it’s justified. A lap full of broken glass, ice and drinks would fit that situation. 

We show our character by how we treat those who owe us nothing.

If you asked me last week how I would respond if someone dumped a glass of soda on me, I would have said that I think that I would respond well. But, we all think the best of ourselves in the “What would you do?” scenarios. We are always the hero, the good guy, the gentleman who takes the high road. We are each the star of our own movie.

Occasionally we are put to the test. At least for a single moment last night I am glad to say I measured up to my inner standard. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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