Monthly Archives: June 2019

Monday Motivator: Be a Better Customer

Friday night, I was in Walgreens, standing in line behind all the people buying beer and snacks for the night. It was a long line, but I wasn’t in a hurry, so I did some people watching. The clerk was a young man, probably a college student home for the summer.

The woman in front of me could have played the stereotypical old lady in any sitcom. She questioned every purchase, made sure that her coupons had gone through, and couldn’t quite remember her store card number as she was finishing up. Then she demanded to know that she had gotten all her discounts.

What I noticed was how patient the young man was with her. He answered every question about her discounts seriously. His tone was never impatient. You would have thought that she was the only person in the world until he handed her bag, and she left the store.

On my neighborhood Facebook page, there are often posts complaining about bad service at restaurants, stores, banks, etc. And don’t get me wrong; I think customer service is important.

But as I watched that young man at Walgreens, I wondered if we sometimes get it backwards. Maybe we need to be the sort of customer who deserves good customer service. Let’s treat the people at service counters the way we’d want them treated if they were our children in a summer job. Be patient. Unless you are truly on your way to conduct emergency brain surgery, is it really necessary to be impatient and angry if you have to wait for a few moments?

A few months ago, I returned some clothes to a store. The clerk, who was obviously new, was nervous and thanked me for being patient. I laughed and said that if waiting a few minutes in a nice air-conditioned store was the worst thing that happened to me that day, it was going to be a good day indeed. I was surprised when she looked sad and said that she wished everyone felt that way.

Maybe the message for this week is simply this: Just be a nice person, even when you’re a customer.

Monday Motivator: Start Anew

Last Tuesday, I was running reports when one program on my computer froze. It wasn’t a huge problem. I could open other programs, check my emails, and write documents. But after a while, when it became clear that this program was not going to run, I decided to shut down my computer.

It shut down. It came back on. Just like normal. But then it made a weird beeping sound (a noise that Jeff, our IT wizard, would later identify as ‘the sound of death’) and asked me to press any key to reboot. I did and a few seconds later found myself being asked to reboot again. Not one to give up, I pressed again and again with the same result.

A few hours later, when Jeff came back from setting up the HR offices, he took one look at my computer, shook his head, ran a diagnostic, and announced the death of my computer. Then he asked a question:

“Have you backed up your files?”

I had not.

These are some of the things that I’ve lost:

  • 2 SACS reports
  • Catalog copy
  • 17 years of evaluations
  • Email strings (Lost the email archives as well)
  • Business office documents such as sole source forms, requests for bids, and contracts

A colleague said that I was less stressed about this loss than she would have expected. And I suspect that I won’t be really upset until I actually have to use some of them.

But there’s nothing I can do. There’s no one to blame but myself. And it occurred to me that this is a chance to start over. Like most people, I have too much stuff, and that includes stuff on my computer. I have evaluations of people who haven’t worked here for more than a decade. I have documentation for equipment that’s long gone.

So maybe my computer’s death was a message for me to start again. Or maybe it’s just a lie I’m telling myself. But either way, I think it’s better than crying.

But I am starting to back up my files.

Monday Motivator: Be Like Ash

At the ladies’ French Open semifinal, Ash Barty seemed to have run out of luck. Starting strong, she won the first five games. But then, her opponent made an incredible comeback winning the first set in a tiebreak. Barty then lost the first three games of the second set. It looked like the Australian would be going home. But then Barty won the next six games. And won the next set for a chance to play in her first French Open title. (Spoiler alert: She went on to win the championship.)

But what I found most inspiring about Barty during that amazing win was her attitude. She must have felt dispirited about being so far ahead, only to find herself three games from a loss. But you would never have been able to tell. There were no expressions of disgust or angry outbursts. She didn’t throw her racket. She didn’t look despairingly at her coaches up in the box. She simply put her head down and went to work.

There are times when things seem to go wrong, and failure is in sight. And we can rail against our lot. Or we can be like Ash, put our heads down, and do what we know we need to do.

Even if I don’t win, I prefer to be like Ash.


Monday Motivator: Roll with the Comings and Goings of Daily Life

Last year, I received a letter that our condo dumpster was being taken away.  The land next to us was up for sale, and our dumpster was on ground that was necessary for trucks to bring materials for the planned construction. Instead we would get bins.

Obviously, this was not a huge problem. In fact, some of my neighbors welcomed the bins. They were closer to individual condos, and we would always know whether or not there was room in our bins to add garbage.

But I didn’t like them. I’d had a routine. Each night, I would take my daily garbage out to the dumpster. It wasn’t like the happiest moment of my day, but it gave me a small feeling of accomplishment. But since the individual bins were deep, I had to almost do a handstand to grab the bag and add the daily garbage. So I soon took out my garbage only twice a week.

Still, I realized the dumpster was not mine. The condo made the decision, and I adjusted.

Then last month, as I drove in our parking lot, I saw that the dumpster was back. The land next door had not been sold; in fact, the owner had taken it off the market.

Now, once again, I take my daily trash to the dumpster. When I’m on my deathbed, I doubt I’ll remember the dumpster as one of the highlights of my life. But I’m taking the time to appreciate its return and to remember that this return may not be permanent. And I’ll be just fine.