Impatience does not live at the UPS office on Hegan Lane in Chico. This is because Diane Kaye, customer service extraordinaire, has worked here for the past eight years. For some reason, there is an unmistakable link between cranky customers and the shipping industry, but Kaye, a ray of sunshine in a sky of bad moods and drab brown walls, refuses to allow herself or her customers to get away with euphoria-sabotaging negativity.
How often do people come in with bad attitudes?
Oh gosh! Like, always. [Sometimes] they’re frustrated because they don’t understand the system. And some people are just upset about other things. A lady came in one day, and she was just nasty, she was just mean and hateful, and I thought, you know, maybe something bad is happening in her life. Well, the lady behind her was her mother, and I knew her. And that lady, the mean lady, her little son was dying of cancer, and they were here for treatment, and there was nothing they could do. So I try to think, with the all the people with bad attitudes, that something bad is happening in their lives.
So you sympathize with people before you size them up?
I try to, I do, but every once in a while I want to crawl across the counter and choke someone. I have my days.
Do you ever want to give people hugs?
Oh yeah, in fact I have. I’m not a real touchy person, but some people. … A man came in the other day [who] was picking up his wife in the hospital, and she’d had cancer surgery after cancer surgery after cancer surgery. They had found that there was not a lot that they could do for her. And he was picking up a package—it was a picture of a bunch of dogs that her sister-in-law sent—and he sat there and kept talking and talking, and he had tears in his eyes. That was depressing. For a couple of days I was sad.
How do you keep positive among all these bad moods?
I think that the people who are negative, it doesn’t do them any good. Negativity breeds negativity. If smiling and being happy can make one person happy, it’s worth it. I love my job, so it makes it pretty easy.
Is it even possible that you’ve ever been in a bad mood?
Everybody has. I always try to cheer myself up. I have a son who’s 17, and sometimes he’ll get a bad attitude, and I’ll say, "You’ve got about two seconds to lose that attitude and find a new one." And so if I get a bad attitude, I’ll go, "OK, lose that attitude, find a new one." And if I can, anybody can.