Best day I ever had in all the years I worked retail. It was mid-December of the year I worked at Wal-Mart. This lady was pacing around the toy department, looking distraught. I realized the other person working the department that day was avoiding her, so I went up and asked if I could help her. "I don't know... I don't know what to get for my daughter. She's in first grade. She wrote Santa asking for a 'for real friend.' I don't know what to do..."
"Umm... She wants a toy cat."
"Its called a 'FUR-Real Friend.' It's a robot cat. They're this year's 'Tickle-Me-Elmo,' the hot item."
The look on this lady's face went from distress to pure joy and relief. She seriously thought her daughter was having social problems at school based on her Santa letter, and was elated to learn that all her daughter was asking for was a toy.
While we didn't have any of the cats in stock, some of us in the department had been sharing info with friends at other stores about when we got the hot items in. I knew Toys-R-Us had gotten a shipment in and would put them out that night, so I quietly relayed this to the customer. (My co-worker's friend at T-R-U would do the same when we got our shipments in.) I don't know if she managed to get one before the holiday, I hope she did.
I do know I will never forget the way she lit up. Two minutes of my time focusing on customer service changed her whole day for the better. That I will never forget.
Remember, as you hit the "Black Friday" sales today and do any of your offline holiday shopping this year, if you encounter a sales person who helps you, even in a little way, to thank them. Retail sales are hell this time of year, especially with the economy like it is and bosses breathing down employees' necks. Sometimes, a simple "thank you" is all it takes to brighten that sales-floor worker's day.