My Humor Gets Things Done

Posted on August 29, 2009


For a fun Saturday post, I’m going to tell you two stories about how I recently used my sense of humor and positive attitude to get things done. Consider it a taste of what’s in store for you if I was your co-worker, boss, or direct report.

The Library

Thursday night I was using the King County Library System webpage to reserve some books. I checked the general status of my account – when books were due, what books were on reserve, and what fines I owed. It turns out that I did owe money. It wasn’t very much, not worth using my debit card online to pay it, and I was going to the library to return a book anyway. Friday morning I collected what I needed to pay my fine in cash and drove to the Kent, WA branch. The woman at the check-out counter was busy. I was last in line. The woman right before me had a very sweet, but very active, son and was distracted. It was obviously stressing out the librarian. Finally it was my turn. I walked up, gave her my polite smile (my lips curve, but I don’t show any teeth and it doesn’t reach my eyes), and said, “I owe you money.”

Apparently lots of angry people like to argue about the amounts, or legitimacy of their late fees. The librarian clearly steeled herself for an argument while she scanned my library card and checked my account. When she got to the fines page, her jaw went slack. She turned to look at me.

“I brought exact change,” I said, and held up a shiny dime, this time giving her a full-power grin.

She chuckled, because she was far too professional a librarian to guffaw, and she was obviously tickled that it was easy and that I made it funny. Then she said, “Would you like to pick up your book while you’re here?”

Not only was one of the books I reserved the night before already ready, but she went in the back and got it for me. Would I have gotten rock star treatment if I’d been a jerk? Of course not. I not only handled my fine responsibly, but I made an effort to make it fun for both of us.


Champions Online officially releases on Monday, August 31st. If you pre-ordered the game, you were supposed to get a code that let you start playing on Friday, August 28th. When I pre-ordered at GameStop, they were already out of codes. The manager was unable to help me. I understood. She didn’t decide how many codes she got, she just got them. Apparently, I was not alone in this predicament. Social media is full of people bitching about not being able to play in the head-start, and they are naming names.

My local GameStop is in the mall that’s a block from the library. After I finished making the librarian laugh, I walked over to GameStop. The young man behind the counter greeted me as soon as I walked in, which I love. That’s good retail service.

He said, “Can I help you with anything?”

I said, “Maybe,” and explained that, when I pre-ordered CO, the store was out of head-start codes.

Before I finished speaking, he had a postcard in his hand. He knew exactly what to do. He started to ask for my receipt when he saw that I already had it out. He handed me the postcard, which had the code written on it, and said, “Have a nice day.”

I said, “I will now!” He was gamer enough to give me a big grin and a wave on my way out.

I could have gone in complaining and yelling, and gotten the same thing. But I would have made him miserable, and ruined not only my future interactions with the store, but my interactions with anyone who witnessed such an outburst. Instead, I got what I wanted, and made someone else smile.

That was a pretty good Friday, by my count.