Today I had the pleasure of meeting a customer face to face that I’ve been doing business with for a few years via phone conversations and e-mails. Most of you know I work with a lot of men. The type of industry I’m in is mostly male dominated. When truck drivers, industrial technicians, road mechanics, etc. call in they’re a bit shocked that a female is selling parts. I think sometimes it’s a southern thing possibly? Who knows.
Believe it or not some ask to speak to a man in parts and do not want to speak to me thinking because I’m a “Girl”, “Chic”, “Woman”, etc. that I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to parts. Little do they know that I know a lot, I mean A LOT about industrial equipment. I’ve been doing it for over fifteen years now. I dream about alternators, bearings, starters, chains, torque spec’s. It’s my career, this is what I’m paid to know dudes. Give me a break. Anyway…..
This customer today that I met FINALLY was one of “those guys” that gave me a hard time at first. He’s always been gruff and rough with me and very straight to the point. We’ve never talked personal about our lives or even had a weather conversation. I know nothing about him and he knows nothing about me. Strictly business.
When we met eyes the first thing I noticed as I shook his hand was how kind his eyes were. He had a gray beard equivalent to one of those bearded Duck Dynasty guys. He also had three long strands of that beard that were about 2 ” longer than the actual beard. They were braided and a lighter color than the rest of the beard. He had glasses and a baseball cap on with jeans and was a stout fellow around the age of 45 – 50 possibly. I told him how excited I was to finally meet him and put the face with the voice and all.
He said to me “I used to not look this way. I used to be clean cut and cared about what I looked like. You see a few years ago I lost my thirteen year old son. I found him dead in his bed from playing the choking game.” At this moment he began to tear up. I began to tear up as he was telling me this tragic story. He told me that the reason why he’s grown out his beard and has the braids is for his son. He didn’t want to look the same after his son passed away. He wanted to change his looks and the braids represent his son. He said every time he’s sitting in traffic or sitting anywhere he can run his hands along the braids to think of his son. The grief I saw in this man’s eyes shook my core. I hugged him and told him how deeply sorry I was that he lost his son and how I thought growing his beard out and the braids I’m sure would make his son smile. He gave me the biggest hug after I said that, a bear hug.
I had always had the impression that he was just a grouchy, egotistical, mean, crusty old guy that didn’t like women. When all along he had so much heartbreak and sadness in his life that had changed him. It had nothing to do with me and he’s not a mean crusty guy at all.
His heart has been broken and it changed him. We never know what someone else has been through. It’s sad that I immediately judged him and put him in my mental folder as one of “those guys” that didn’t like women in this business. What a gorgeous sweet soul he is. My heart goes out to him for what he’s been through.
I feel like we have a connection now. I don’t know really why he felt comfortable enough to share his sons story with me. I just know that I hugged him as hard as I could.
It just goes to show that we never know what someone else has been through or is going through. He touched my heart.
Makes me appreciate my family and friends and all of you so much. Hug your loved ones and let them know how much you love them.