Strolling into Bright Bank, her hair only slightly less wet than when she left the apartment, Jess passed a line of customers waiting in the open lobby and headed towards the teller stations at the back of the room.
“Well look at you, five minutes early and fifteen minutes before you usually arrive,” Sam, a gangly senior teller, said in a deadpan voice. He was counting out bills into a neat pile on his counter and looked past the customer in front of him to follow Jess with his eyes.
“Whatever, you’re not my boss,” Jess retorted, looking around the room to see if Tony, her actual boss, heard the snarky comment.
Tony was in fact within earshot, sitting behind his desk across the room, but he was distracted by something else.
Busy jamming his sausage index finger onto his phone’s dial pad, Tony fumbled with the buttons, clearly becoming more and more frustrated, vexed, and annoyed. This was Tony’s first week on the job as the bank’s new manager and he seemed to be having a rough go of it. Only a couple of years older than Jess and a recent college grad with no actual managerial experience to speak of, Tony appeared to be overwhelmed by, well, everything- talking to the staff, talking to customers, and now, apparently, trying to figure out how to work his voicemail.
The pressure Tony was under was clearly evident by the sweat that bled through the pin-striped suits he stuffed himself into. And by his debilitating stutter. Sam swore that Tony only had a minor speech impediment during his job interview – which Sam was allowed to sit in on as the most senior staff member – and speculated that it was a condition amplified by stress.
Jess, though, didn’t think of Tony’s stutter as a “condition”. She thought of it more as a superpower that could be wielded against the enemy: irate customers with unreasonable expectations. Thus far, Tony was an undefeated champion in the complaint department. Despite only being on the job for a week, Jess already watched Tony deal with two angry customers. During both confrontations, the tension caused Tony’s stutter to reach an unbearable peak, but he refused to let that stop him from fully addressing the customers’ concerns. During his painfully slow and clunky responses, the customers’ eyes glazed over and confusion set in over how to appropriately handle the interaction. Ultimately, in both scenarios, the customer gave up in defeat- anything to stop Tony from talking again.
Jess lamented that she could not handle customers in the same way. Tony’s stutter was a remarkable strategic advantage in the customer service field.
“Hey, did you hear that they want us to sweep the parking lot now when we leave? That’s absurd, I’m not doing that,” Jess said in a hushed voice, leaning towards Sam.
“Why not?” Sam inquired, still looking at Jess but maintaining his mental count. Pushing back his thick, black-framed glasses to the top of his nose, Sam turned back to his customer and continued piling more twenty-dollar bills onto the stack in front of him.
“Because it’s not in my job description. It’s not what I was hired to do. I’m sure our overlords at Bright Bank can manage to pay cleaners to do that sort of thing.”
Jess turned on her computer screen and began to count the money in her cash drawer, inputting each bill amount into the primitive DOS operating system.
“I’m not above sweeping,” Sam responded simply.
The response caught Jess off guard and made her pause her counting. She knew there was a life lesson in his response, but she couldn’t quite work out the meaning, so she let the idea float away.