Working from a Human Story

I was having one of those annoying customer problems – you know, where I’m the annoying customer? The one who doesn’t know anything, in this case. You see, I’d had an accident and somehow shredded my Macbook Air cable, though I had no idea how this had happened. And so I bought a new one, only…um, it didn’t fit. 2013-08-08 08.47.52

I brought it home, plugged it in, but the part that connected to the Macbook Air didn’t fit. Hmmmm. So, I returned it. I ordered one off Amazon, after looking it over and being sure this was very much the same cable I’d had in the past. Only, um, that didn’t fit either. I returned that, and got a third cable. You’d think I’d master this at some point, having owned Mac products since 1984. But no, somehow, I bought a third wrong cable.

And then I met Alvin.

Sometimes, The Story Is the Right Tool

Alvin had an air about him from the moment I met him in the Apple store. He had a fast smile, a slow walk, and a really soft but certain voice. When I explained my exasperated tale of woe, he listened, as if anything I was saying was useful to him. He then dragged me over to the area where all the cables are stored, and pulled the box off the shelf that I needed and handed it to me. I felt my heart sink. He’d given me the wrong box. And I told him so.

“Well, let me explain,” started Alvin. “You see, the old cables were the one you’re describing, but there was some kind of problem. They kept breaking in a weird way. So these are the new cables. And they’re shaped differently. So you’re right. The old cable looked like the one you’re pointing out, but that cable won’t fit your Air. This one will.”

I was dubious. “I’m going to open this box right in front of you and plug it in, and I really really hope you’re right. (Because why would I trust Alvin? He only works for Apple, day in and day out.)

The cord… fit.

Alvin: “You know, it’s really confusing. I get it. You knew exactly what the old cable looked like, and no one was listening to you. But I knew that there was a new cable, and that you weren’t really hearing that, either. I’m glad we got it sorted out.”

To all the people (including – especially! – me) who get stuck in telling our stories like robots repeating lines of scripted code, remember to break out now and again, and listen beyond what you already know to be true. Because somewhere out there in between what I (the stupid customer) and you (the experienced professional) know, is what really has to go down to solve the problem.


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