I am in the process of changing phone carriers. I figure, I could make a small profit — or at least supplement the cost of the new phone — by selling my old one on craigslist. I put it up for a modest price, same amount you would pay in deductible cost for a “lost or stolen” phone, which is still twice as much as you would get from a buy-back program. I got several hits, and committed to the first guy who agreed upon my asking price. Later that day I got an email from another guy who was in dire need of a phone and was willing to pay me enough above my asking price if I were to hold it for him. I agreed. But when we met to make the sale, he didn’t have the full amount agreed upon.
A number of thoughts went through my head:
– I got greedy; I got duped.
– I have a waiting list of people who I can get more money from.
– This isn’t my problem; no sale [walk away].
It was at that moment I had to check myself, and take a step back. I wasn’t present in the situation, nor with the person in front of me. My industry can leave people very jaded, and its a conscious effort to be able to recognize when its happening; to maintain compassion.
So lets paint the picture. Initially we met at Starbucks, but ended up going to the near by sprint store so someone could help us with the change. I pull up looking for a green car, and right away I spot him in the back row by himself chillin in his car. He was pretty grimy. He had no shoes, and his feet were pretty dirty from walking around barefoot for what seemed to be quite some time. A dirty white shirt with holes and khaki shorts that looked like they haven’t been washed in some time. I can only assume he works in the construction industry or possibly in the window installment business because of the company name and logo on his shirt. A job in which not having a phone meant he wasn’t getting calls for work.
After not being able to make the switch over the phone with account services, we decided to go to the sprint store. I can’t even explain the loud screech that came from his engine as he turned on his car. As we drove, it appeared that he wasn’t able to go over 35mph — thank God that the Sprint store was only a few blocks away. He had one tire that was a spare, and the rest had mix matched tires and rims. It looked like he could have been living out of his ’92 corolla, but he had shared with me that he had just gotten that car that morning.
While we were at the sprint store, he was sharing with me the story of what he had been through the past couple weeks. If anyone needed a break, it was this guy. So after all the hoops we had to jump through to get the phone activated, I asked him if he had the money. He looked at me and said, “I did this morning…but I needed gas to get here, and I was hungry…and this is what I have left.” I don’t know what face I made but he looked a little worried to ask, “Can you work with that?”
Initially I was gonna snap and say, “No.” Have the rep switch everything back and be on my way because like I said before — I had other people who were willing to pay me more. But when I took that step back I was able to see, whats a couple dollars if its really going to help this guy out? I almost missed an opportunity to help someone who really needed a W in the win column.
I think this moment came so timely and weighed so heavy on my heart because of the book I’m currently reading, “Produced By Faith” by DeVon Franklin. He speaks on a very heavy theme through out the book this far; not compromising who you are for your career. I can’t say that I’ve stayed the same person; its impossible. But what I can do is be conscious traits that I do not want to to be part of my character.
When I started down this career path years back, Cliff and I made a promise to each other not to lose sight of who we wanted to be, and how we wanted to get there — and keep each other accountable. We’ve spoke about this recently, and he said I needed to get back to blogging…hence the story. This was one of those moments. Always remember who you wanted to be.
[hindsight: I could have had him make a deposit via paypal to hold it for him, and collected the rest in person…but that’s not the point of this story]