“That will be an additional charge of one dollar each!” demanded the shop assistant, Jenny.

Good afternoon (Singapore time). The memories came rushing back to me about last holiday during Christmas season when I decided to return some VCDs that I’ve rented from a Video rental shop. One of them were faulty and was not able to play on my VCD player.

I said “Nope, Jenny, I missed the deadline by just an hour, couldn’t you waived the additional dollar charge? Besides, the VCD didn’t play properly.”

She said (a bit louder) “Faulty VCD or not, we will have to charge according to the rules.”

I was patient and I said “Come on Jenny, I am a long time customer. Give me a break will you and waived that dollar charge”

This exchange went on for the next few minutes and suddenly she lost her cool. She started shouting. “It’s only a dollar for goodness sake. It’s for the surcharge. You pay up!”

My voice gets louder too as I replied “Don’t be ridiculous! I am not going to pay!” Heated words were exchanged and both of us were really mad over a dollar.

Right smack in the middle of our argument, I suddenly realized that we were alone in the shop. No one else were around. As she continued her shouting, the song of christmas floats into the shop from outside. I momentarily frozed, as the song reminded me that it was christmas times and the need to be forgiving. I decided to watch her and not to engage in further argument. Slowly, I understand the need to calm her down. I decided to stay quiet, listen and put on a smile.

Immediately, she took the cue and calms down. We stayed quiet for that few seconds that seems like ages and she understood the situation.

I said “All right Jenny. I’m sorry about it. I will pay the dollar!”

She stays calm, received the dollar and I thought she acted being embarassed, probably about the situation, about the shouting and about her attitude towards her customer. I walked out of the shop and thought what a tiny issue it was and how it became an embarassing moment for her and me.

Two days later, when I brought my young daughter with me to the shop for further video renting, she produce a small package worth maybe two dollars for my daughter as a present. I said thank you to her and she smiled. We didn’t apologize about the argument but we knew that both could have manage the situation better.

When I reflected on this incident, it taught me to be aware of our difficult situation and manage it from the perspective of being forgiving. Holidays and festive season, particularly christmas time will bring back the fond memories of this incident to give and forgive if we are in the middle of an argument. 

Merry Christmas from tropical Singapore!