“This is unacceptable!”
I pinched the bridge of my nose. I knew this was going to be a bad day when I slipped over a sock on the floor and hit my head on the door frame, but I didn’t expect to deal with such an obnoxious customer. She had been nagging me for ten minutes straight already.
I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry, Mam. I can certainly understand your anger.”
No, I couldn’t.
“I paid a lot of money for my vacation here. The least I can expect is a clean house!”
I nodded along and tried to ignore the ringing in my ears from her screeching voice. “I understand that Mam, and I’m really sorry about this mishap. Of course, we will fix it as fast as possible. I will send someone to take care of the issue right now!”
I heard her huffing and braced myself for another round of screeching. “That’s it? Do you call that customer service? You are the ones at fault here!”
A sigh almost left my mouth, but I sucked it in. I still remembered that one time I accidentally sighed a bit too loudly, making hell break loose.
“Mam, we would only want to give you the best experience when spending time here and we want to keep you as a precious customer.” I almost gagged letting those words leave my mouth, but I knew they had to be said. “I can see you are visiting with children. We could offer you free activity coupons for all of them. Would that make up for the negative impression you sadly had received?”
“Only for the kids?”
I took a staggering deep breath and flexed my fingers. Turns out she is one of the cocky ones. This issue wasn’t such a big deal that we had to go this far, but I didn’t want to argue any longer. And I can already feel the ‘I want to speak to your manager’ in the air.
“I could offer you a spa treatment for you and your husband.”
It was one of the more expensive compensations I can hand out, and I only have a limited amount of them. Usually, I keep them for actual mishaps that happened from our side, but it was time to end this phone call before my nerves were growing too thin.
I could hear her murmur in the background before she returned to the phone call. “That’s fine with us.”
Relief washed over me. “I’m happy we could sort this out. I’ll book your coupons into your account and you can pick them up at the reception whenever you find the time.”
“We have to pick them up!?”
Before anything could escalate further, I offered to bring them over to her personally.
I dropped the headset on the table and shook my head. I loved my job- for the most part. Complaint management wasn’t my favorite part of it, though. I grabbed my phone and keys. “I’m heading out for a bit. Have to take care of this one customer.”
Stephany looked up and smiled. “Sure, Mia. See you later.”
I waved and exited the office with quick steps. I couldn’t wrap my head around Stephany’s constant good mood while working in complaint management full-time. If I was in her stead, I probably would have committed a felony already.
On my way to the bungalow, I called the cleaning team. I then hurried to the reception to pick up the coupons. When I reached the area of the bungalow, I could already see Jesse walking up and down the street, a bucket dangling on her wrist.
I hurried over to her. “Sorry, I’m a bit late.”
She smiled, but it appeared forced. “It’s okay.”
“Let’s go then,” I said and walked up the path towards the bungalow, Jesse following me.
Before we even reached the door and had a chance to knock, the door swung open and a tall woman stepped outside. She had short, brown hair with a red strand in the front. Her mean stare made my skin crawl as she hovered over us.
She crossed her arms. “Took you long enough.”
I swallowed down a rude response and instead plastered a smile on my face. “I apologize for the delay.”
The woman looked us up and down, a brow raised. “Well, what are you waiting for then?”
Jesse stepped past the woman, who barely made space for her, and disappeared into the bungalow. I wonder if she could be a little less appalling.
I took the coupons out of my pocket and handed them to her. “Here are your coupons.”
She ripped them out of my hands and examined them. “At least some things seem to work here.”
The urge to start an argument about her behavior bubbled up in me. Luckily, I saw Jesse hurrying back outside, a garbage bag in hand, stopping me to run my mouth. It would have ruined all the efforts I put in for this woman.
“All done?” I asked her, and she nodded. A smile spread over my face. “We wish you a wonderful stay!”
I couldn’t wait to leave her far behind me.
To my surprise, she said nothing more and silently went back inside. Jesse and I hurried down the path and headed back.
“I can’t believe she made such a big fuss,” Jesse muttered. “The sink wasn’t even dirty.”
I shrugged. We both knew she only wanted to get free goodies, any way possible. There are people like her all the time, but it still left me in a foul mood.
We parted ways a bit further down the road and I returned to the office, hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone like this for the rest of the day. Towards the end of the day, my mood gradually got better.
“You seem happier now,” Stephany said.
I leaned back in my chair and smiled at her. “The shift is almost over and I finished all the emails.”
And just as I said it, another email popped up.
She chuckled. “You can finally go for your daily run, too.”
I wrote a response and nodded. “Today is a wonderful day to run. Not too warm, not too cold. No rain, just wonderful.”
When I didn’t get a response, I looked over at Stephany again. She stared out of the window, her usual bright smile turned upside down. She rubbed her legs absentmindedly.
“Are you alright?”
“I miss riding. Days like these make me want to ride as much as you want to run.”
My heart clenched as I glanced at her legs. I knew she used to be a rider and owned several horses. But after a riding accident, she got paralyzed from her waist down.
“Why don’t you try riding again?” I asked. “I have heard of paralyzed people riding with a special saddle.”
She turned to me, tears in her eyes. “It wouldn’t be the same.”
I nodded. I could understand what she meant. Years ago, I also lost something very precious to me, and nothing could replace it- not even close.
“Today, it has been two years since the accident,” she said, her voice trembling.
Stephany and I have only known each other for two months now, and her openness about the topic surprised me. She always seemed so happy and her cheerful laugh lifts the mood in the office. Seeing her like this pained me, and yet I felt so helpless. I didn’t know how to help her. “Do you think it will get better at some point?”
She forced a smile. “I doubt it. This is the way I have to live now.”
My ears perked up when I heard a car stop in front of our office. “I think your husband is here.”
Her face lit up as if nothing happened. She navigated her wheelchair around the desks and closer to the door.
As expected, her husband entered with a broad smile on his face. “Good afternoon!”
Stephany stretched her arms towards him and wiggled her fingers. “Hubby!”
With a couple of big steps, he reached her and pulled her up in his arms, lifting her out of her wheelchair. She squealed and chuckled before he carefully placed her back down in her seat.
I felt warmth in my chest watching them. They still acted as if they were in the early stages of the pink love, but they had been married for six years now.
“Hello, Alex,” I greeted him.
He turned to me and smiled. “Hey, Amalia. It’s a surprise to still see you here so late. Do you have a long day today?”
I nodded. “We were short on staff today, so I had to jump in for the entire day.”
Alex grimaced. “Sounds kinda icky to have to work here the whole day. No offense, honey.”
She rolled her eyes playfully and smacked his arm. “Not everyone can understand the joy of complaint management.”
“At this point, I’m convinced you are the only person enjoying it,” I muttered.
She glared at me before laughter escaped her. “You wouldn’t understand. But are you fine to stay here alone? I could wait until the late shift arrives.”
I shook my head. “It’s fine. You two should go. I’m sure the others will be here shortly.”
She bit her lips, visibly uncertain what to do.
“I picked up your favorite junk food on the way here. As much as you love to work here, the food won’t stay warm forever,” Alex said and winked at me.
Stephany’s eyes widened. “In that case, I will see you on the next shift. Whenever that will be.”
“Have a nice evening, you two,” I said.
The two of them waved at me and quickly left the office. My stomach grumbled. I could also eat something, but I will do that after my run. I was never the person to run with a full stomach.
I heard Stephany laughing outside and I couldn’t help but smile. They were such a lovely couple, and I’m so happy for both of them. I’m glad she had Alex by her side when she went through such tough times. I wish I had support like that after what had happened to me, but no one made it out alive.
When the late shift finally arrived to take over, I was almost jumping up and down in my chair. Nervous energy made me all excited to finally feel the afternoon sun on my skin and to free my mind from everything.
Luckily, I live in a small bungalow inside the compound. It makes my way to work short and convenient. After I rushed to change into my running clothes, I grabbed my phone and secured it on the strap on my upper arm. I turned up the music and started my run.
I was halfway through my route when I saw a motorcycle in the middle of the road. It was a wonderful black Honda Fireblade. I almost caught myself fangirling over it when I remembered vehicles are prohibited inside the compound after a certain time. Except for those with special permission, and I very much doubt this motorcycle had one.
I quickened my run and looked around, trying to find the owner. I pulled my phone out of the strap on my arm and was about to call security when someone exited the bungalow on the left and walked towards me. I lowered my phone and crossed my arms.
A buffed, tall man, with raven black hair and a tattoo peeking under the sleeve of his T-shirt, approached me with quick steps. A cold shower raced through my body. He gave off this specific vibe I haven’t felt in a long time. I gulped when his eyes met mine. Sweat broke out all over my skin, and I took a deep breath. I knew what kind of person he was and I tried to hide that I recognized it. I had nothing to do with those people anymore, and I wanted it to remain that way. Hopefully, he wouldn’t pick up on anything.
But why would he? I was only a human now, right? Right?