Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

You don't necessarily see them coming.

You might think you're having an ordinary day. Suddenly, an explosion occurs, the curses fly and you wonder to yourself: "Now where did that come from?"

And then you have to keep it together. Or not.

The customer isn't always right. Sometimes, the customer is a nasty, deranged, unreasonable, self-regarding molecule of malice.

But you're there to provide customer service, aren't you? What do you do?

Look at this now-famous scene from arts and craft store Michaels in Chicago. More than 1.3 million people already have.

Jessie Grady, who shot the video, is a customer of the store. She's white.

She was appalled at what she calls "a 30 minute racist rant (complete with yelling and cursing and repeated references to the fact that employees were African American) against the employees at a Chicago Michaels store -- because she did not like that they offered her the option to purchase a re-usable shopping bag for her larger items."

The customer cursed out the staff members, who are black. She crowed about having voted for Donald Trump. She insisted that she's going to call head office and the police.

Some might be astonished she didn't have a hotline to the Pope.

All through it -- and sadly off-camera -- the manager of the store stays calm.

She doesn't rant back. She also doesn't appease or excuse.

She makes her case clear, while Grady -- another customer -- films the whole thing and attempts to explain to the ranting woman that perhaps she might not be in the right.

There are certain basics in life. Yes, they're currently being assailed in an atmosphere of unbridled unpleasantness and outright mendacity.

But even if you work in customer service, you know there are limits. You know that you could pander to the customer. But should you? At the expense of your personal dignity?

Grady has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the store manager who was abused. She hoped to raise $400. She's already raised more than $14,000.

Grady described what moved her about the manager's behavior.

"She inspired me," she said, "because despite the hateful words that were being hurled in her direction, she stood in that entranceway calm and unmoving to protect her staff and customers. Her calmness calmed me and I saw a true leader, which in today's world, is something to be rewarded."

What was almost as remarkable is that the rest of the customers didn't walk away. Instead, Grady says at least 10 stood with the manager as she spoke to the ranter.

During her diatribe, the nasty customer declared: "Your job is to ring people up and tell them to have a nice day. You're not going to give me a psychology lesson."

Well, that's exactly what she got. So did anyone else who works in customer service.

Stay calm and always be yourself. Anything else just isn't worth it.

Published on: Nov 29, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.