It Wasn’t About The Water

I got frustrated with a customer last week. 

When out window cleaning, we often need to refill the our water. We have a piece of fancy equipment that “de-ionises” the water to make it purer. Pure water equals cleaner windows. We always ask to fill up the water out of courtesy if the customers are in. Some people don’t mind, others do. Some people are on a water meter, others are not, so the “cost” of refilling does vary. 

That afternoon, we’d finished one house and moved on to the next one, leaving the equipment and water filling because the customer was not in. When I went back, the car was back on the drive. As I went to collect the equipment, I found that the tap had been turned off. Behind me I heard the door opening and knew what was coming. This had happened before. 

“I don’t mind, but just ask next time. It’s a bit presumptuous filling up without permission.” 

Behind a sharp tone I could sense annoyance. This customer had caused a fuss before. When a colleague had propped the ladder against the door to clean the porch window, the person opened the door causing both window cleaner and ladder to go tumbling into the house, flattening the person. Trying to suppress laughter at the bizarre situation, my colleague, sincerely apologised but the door was slammed in their face. It is always a hassle to deal with miserable customers. 

After politely apologising for my presumption, I collected the equipment up and went in a huff back to the van. What caught my eye in the window was a condolences card and some flowers. The customer was a recent widow. Annoyed with myself, I should’ve been more understanding. They did have a reason for the way they acted. It wasn’t really about the water.

Often we need to step back and try to look for the bigger picture. It’s always there.