I entered the jam-packed big glass box, watching herds of people flowing in and out, and sighed:”why can’t they just ship it to my home?!” I was on a mission to pick up an unlocked iphone 5 for my friend’s friend in China; and as a seasoned online shopper, I was so used to transactions “with a click of the mouse” that I found in-store human interactions somewhat awkward.
Then I felt a pat on the shoulder. I turned around. A women in her 40′s gave me a big smile. She gestured me to come over to a table, opened her notebook, and typed, “Hi! My name is Caroline. I’m glad to be of your assistance at the Apple Store. What can I do for you?”
It suddenly struck me that she couldn’t speak. I typed back, with my fingers trembling a little bit. “Thank you! My name is Yang. I’d like to pick up the iphone 5 I ordered online.” She nodded, beaming, as she scrolled down an application page and pointed to an blank box. “Could you please show me your order confirmation number?” She turned her head to me, and moved her mouth in accordance to the shapes of the words she was typing. “Of course!” I smiled back. I had never felt so engaged in a “conversation” with a store specialist that I knew I had her 100% attention.
In a short while, a freshly-minted iphone 5 was placed in my hands. “Do you need a paper bag? I’m sorry we are running out of smaller ones.” Caroline grinned and shrugged her shoulders. “That’s a good sign. No need for bags. Let’s go green.” We shaked hands, hugged, and she said to me, “It is a great pleasure meeting you. I hope you have a wonderful evening.” No words on screen. No mouth movements. I heard her through eyes.
I rushed all my way out of the Apple Store with a warm stream dripping dowm my cheeks. It was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I see businesses hiring people with disabilities for backend jobs, but the first time for client-facing roles. Caroline just offered me an extraordinary customer service experience that I would remember for the rest of my life. She also gave me a chance to listen to her, get to know her, and show her my respect and appreciation. I am sure Caroline has uncovered the most innocent and puriest sides of many people just like she did to me. I was simply a happier person.
True geniuses come in all shapes and forms. Those who attract and retain talents must have heard the unsaid and seen the unseen. A big thumbs-up to Apple.