Friday, January 7, 2011

The power of the tongue and Customer Service

I work at a local grocery store deli. It is my job to help people retrieve their desired products from our display case, among other things. It comes with the territory to help all kinds of people: young, old, fat, skinny, business executives, slept-all-day-bed-head-pajama-wearing-slip-a-jacket-with-some-house-shoes-on-to-go-to-the-store people, hard working stay at home moms with their children and the hard working blue collar individuals. Everyone has to eat, so I have the entertaining task of watching them all shop. I hear their stories if they come to see me. This is the most amusing thing to me... at times.

I think it may just be me, but I find cell phones to be an excruciating portion of my job. The best interactions I have include:

  • A customer coming up to my counter 
  • A bit of small talk while a decision (or decisions) is (are) being made 
  • A definitive decision at a volume I can hear
  • Me serving the desired product in a timely manner
  • A bit of a cheerful thank you and your welcomes or have a nice day
I am totally turned off by the people who walk up to me on their cell phones deep in conversation. I've been guilty of this too. I realize my guilt. Anyway I find it more and more irritating when they act like I'm interrupting their conversations. COME ON PEOPLE YOU WALKED UP TO ME. THAT IN ITSELF IS YOU ESTABLISHING COMMUNICATION! I get paid to help you out and to give good customer service. I can get in trouble for not doing so in a timely manner, however I don't want to be put on hold when I'm not on their other line. I'm standing in front of you waiting for directions. I have wanted to tell a few people in the past that I would wait on them when they were finished putting me on hold. I didn't, even though I REALLY wanted to! I have said hello and then waited until they were finished. The past couple weeks with the holidays have been riddled with this type of behavior. It has been making me want to pull my hair out. I don't think I could be much more uncomfortable at work then with two particular transactions I had.

The first was with a man in his mid- to late-thirties. He has a nice smile, was well groomed, and wearing a nicely tailored suit. My initial reaction was to think, "Oh what a nice looking put together man." He was on his cell phone when he walked up, but he was just listening. He let me know what he wanted. As I was serving him, he responded to the person on the phone. The gist of the dialogue was about this man's previous weekend plans. I gathered he was talking to a close friend because he was saying how he'd gone out with a group of friends. They'd gone bar hopping until all hours of the night. He'd drunk so much he'd blacked out. He could not remember how he'd gotten home, how some girl had passed out on his couch, and now he had to replace a set of keys he'd lost somewhere. He was bragging about what a great time it was. As he walked away, I was embarrassed and saddened for him. He just let me, a complete stranger, know the character behind the nice suit.

The second interaction I had happened a couple nights ago. As usual this lady approached the deli counter, she was having a rather loud heated conversation with whom ever. She was discussing someone's custody agreements and not being paid child support. I must remind you I can't escape while I work. I glanced over to see her son (or a young man I assumed to be her son) looking embarrassed and apologetic. The lady went on  spitting hot air for about five minutes. My co-worker was like are you gonna help her? He looked a bit startled by the whole affair. I took one look at the lady and responded after she gets off her phone. He seemed relieved. The son caught my eye a few times looking more uncomfortable than ever. He was in his early teens. The lady finally got off her phone looking irate. She ordered and huffed away with her poor son and another boy in tow.

What is my point? Cell phones are everywhere you look! They ring in all sorts of places. They are incredibly useful. The convience factor is unmistakable. They help us connect to our world, but they also cut us off from the world.

We need to be aware of our surroundings. Who did you miss today because of your cell phone? Did you miss the encouragement you desire because you were to busy to notice the angel walking among you? Were you present today or were you texting? Did you show up for your life? Who heard what you happened to be saying while talking on your cell? Was it something uplifting? Did you show the strangers around you the person behind the nice suit?

Our words should be sweet because we may have to eat them again. Please be respectful to your fellow humans. We may only have the one chance to be Jesus-with-skin-on to them. Many Blessings!

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