The Kind Lady at the Fishball Noodle Stall
It was pouring cats and dogs when my husband and I were about to walk back home from our grocery shopping. We decided to take a taxi back home instead and the Grab app showed that the car would arrive in 10 minutes. With a little idling time on hand, I decided to buy a packet of fishball noodles from the stall which was less than 10 metres away from the sheltered car pickup area.
The stall lady took my order and while I was digging for cash in my bag, I saw another side dish of beancurd to add on. However, I soon realised I was ten cents short. As the stall did not accept credit or debit cards, I told the lady I changed my mind about the beancurd as I did not have sufficient cash.
She responded without hesitation, in a most jovial tone, “It’s ok - just give me what you have and you can come by another time to top up the difference. At your convenience!” She added with a hearty chuckle, “I understand how it is to have food craving. It has happened to me too - I just wanted to eat it and not wait!”
Her words sound like melody to my ears, making me feel completely understood. This is empathy. Many times, team members misunderstand that empathy is about saying “I am sorry” or a simple “I understand” without the expression to match what was being said.
This stall lady was not pushing for me to take the extra order because she had already entered it in the POS. As she not the store owner, she would probably need to top up for any revenue difference. I was totally humbled by her kindness and empathy. This gesture truly made my day.
This incident reminded me of the wise words of a senior industry colleague, “Sometimes, it is more important to be kind than to be right.”
And you can be sure that I have since returned to patronise the stall countless times thereafter, and have certainly more than repaid the ten cents owed.
Service Bank: 💖💖💖
Reflective thoughts: When was the last time you had chosen to be kind rather than to be right?