Random Act of Customer Service
By John R. Greenwood
It happened right out of the blue. I didn’t see it coming. The day was a little rainy and hadn’t decided what direction it was going to go. It didn’t want to rain, yet the sun was missing. It was a Saturday morning and my wife had to work a half-day. I would be left all alone. That usually results in something getting broken or misplaced. My plan was to drop Mrs G off then go shopping for a few things out at what I call our town’s ‘Vegas Strip.’ It’s a Mall+Plaza+Medical+Grocery Store+Bank+Fast Food+Big Box Bonanza where you can’t find anything from what you want, to what you need. I was as free as a grown man with a wallet should be allowed to be and I didn’t need something and I was going to go look for it.
I will get to that Random Act of Customer Service in a moment. First I want to explain what’s wrong with the world today--it will only take a minute.
I was standing in line at Big Blue and Yellow when I looked over at the little hunk of real estate where they house Big Box Disney. You know, that glass encased hand-crank crane where for a handful of quarters you can try your luck at grabbing a stuffed animal by the neck. Sometimes they have a fine-jewelry machine where you can buy an engraved bracelet with your girlfriends name on for the same price as a sleeve of 24 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. There’s always a mini-carousel with a fiberglass horse whispering to your child’s sense of adventure as you attempt to get by without shelling out your hard earned cash. That’s where I spotted mom in the middle of mini-Disney. She was wielding a basket of kids, and they were jumping around like a gymnastics' team of 5 year-olds.. One was being asked to get in the basket with her brother. “No!” she snapped. “I want to walk.” Mom never flinched, she said, “No, we can’t go fast when you walk.” I closed my eyes, lowered my head, and burst through the war zone. I’d been there before--I have a decent memory. And that folks is what’s wrong with the world today. We ran off the tracks. We’re going 90 mph and we don’t know why. Our children can’t talk fast enough, drive fast enough or eat fast enough. The world is whizzing by their little faces so fast they think they’re on a thrill ride. It’s not mom’s fault she’s doing what we’re all doing; trying to keep up with the train. We need more stuff, fast stuff, so we can get there before the competition. We don’t want arrogant babies but you know you hate seeing them come in second. We push and pull them until they can’t go anymore and then when they say they want to walk, we say, “Too Slow.” Things will slow down at some point. At some point it will again be cool to walk, talk, and breathe slow. The train will come back this way and we’ll jump on board. Hopefully it’s going back up the hill where the view is better.
Now back to that Random Act of Customer Service.
When I left Big Blue and Yellow I stopped at one of those stores that sell crafting items like foam balls and plastic flowers. Earlier in the week I purchased some clear epoxy resin for a project I was doing and I needed some of those small plastic measuring cups to ensure I used the right ratio of resin to hardener. I thought a craft store would sell them by the gross. Of course every time I think I get in trouble. Today was no different. The only package they had included brushes, stirrers and six cups all for a mere $10.50. After scouring the aisle for assistance I finally found an employee who was nice enough to ensured me they were the only ones they sold. I counted to ten, and summoned that little voice on my shoulder. The voice of reason who always tells me to stop being such a grump and just relax, open your wallet, pay the cashier and go home--life’s too short. It worked. I gathered my senses and stepped up to the register, placed my $10.50 worth of plastic cups on the counter and smiled. Sharon the pleasant cashier must have sensed my pouty aura and asked, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Smiling and now as calm as a coma, I replied, “Yes, I just hate paying $10.50 for that little package of cups.” Sharon should be the next inductee to the Cashier Hall of Fame because she read me perfectly. She grabbed a coupon next to the register and scanned it. It provided a generous discount and sealed me as a lifetime customer. She never batted an eye. You don’t find employees like that everyday. Reading the customer has become a lost art. Scanners and self-checkout have removed all the personality from our shopping experience. There are a handful of Sharon’s out there and when you run into one you want to tell everyone you know. It was a very small thing in the realm of life but it made me want to leave the store shouting at the top of my lungs. Let’s just say it made my day. When I left the store I walked especially slow. I wanted to enjoy the moment. So you see, there’s is hope. Customer Service is clinging on for dear life. I was lucky enough to experience Sharon doing her best to save it.