Yesterday I needed some coins to do my laundry. I went downstairs to the convenience store, where the change machine is located. A young, handsome and friendly fellow greeted me in a mild arab accent. He said the machine needed a couple of firm bangs on the side to work, and demonstrated. I got my coins and went to do my laundry.
I discovered my laundry was not going to fit in a single washing machine, so I had to go back to the store. This time there was an older guy sitting behind the front desk, but the young man was still hanging around. I banged the machine a couple of times without success before calling the young man. "It's not going to work" the older man said.
The young man came to help me and banged the machine. It lit up. I tried inserting a $10 bill, but the machine spit it out. "It's not going to work" the older man said again, but I kept on trying.
"I tell you it's not going to work and I won't help you because you don't trust me", the man said to me angrily "You are not welcome in my store anymore". I was puzzled because I didn't understand the situation, just moments ago I had gotten change and now there's an old man telling me I don't trust him?
"I would just like to understand why you are mad at me because I don't get it. I never said I don't trust you".
"You don't trust me when I say the machine won't give you change".
My face lit up with understanding: he knew something I didn't know, my actions were futile and I was wasting my time and his peace of mind because I was not listening. I said out loud "Ah, the machine won't give me change so I will have to find it somewhere else!" and the man said "exactly" with a smile. Ah, I get it now, thank you good bye. "You are welcome to come back anytime now" the man bid me farewell with a smile.
I came back hours later and the man greeted me enthusiastically. He asked me if I could get change. "Yes", I said, "I went to a money exchange place and asked them if they could change it. I said I would be happy to pay a comission but they did it for free". The man chuckled at my audacity and then walked with me through the store, picking out the supplies I needed.
At the counter he called me friend, and then backtracked and asked if it was OK to call me friend, because we had come to an understanding. I replied "of course we are friends" and shook hands. He reached for a Kit Kat chocolate and gave it to me. "For you, my friend".
I then asked "will the machine ever work again?".
"Don't worry about that, I will do it for you anytime you need change".
It's amazing what a little bit of understanding can do.