What's In It For You?

In my humble opinion, if you are part of the human race (and chances are if you are reading this, you're human), then you are in customer service. Regardless of your level of education, no matter how many degrees follow your name, despite your title or station in life, you are in customer service. What do I mean by this? My belief is that we are just one big global community: the human race. Some of us are black sheeps, and some are that family member we have to keep locked up in the attic for their own safety. Some of us are the prodigal son or daughter, and still others are the sibling or parent we try to emulate. We are one big bag of mixed beliefs and perspectives and motivations. And yet, we have one thing in common. We are all part of the human race, that distinct species which is self-aware. (I realize there is proof that other species like dolphins are also self-aware but I will leave them to write their own blogs. I'm just sticking to human stuff for now). Given that we are civilized enough, for the most part, to not act wholly on instinct, I think we must then realize we are all in customer service, for lack of a better term. Or really, I guess there is a better term. Let's call it consideration. Consideration for others. What a concept! People, in general, seem to me to be pretty miserable these days. I see a lot of road rage (okay, that's usually me), rudeness, and general lack of respect for our fellow (wo)man. When was the last time you saw someone get up out of a seat for a pregnant woman? Or let someone cut in line because they were using a walker? When did we start turning a blind eye to plain old consideration? What are we teaching the young'uns? I am one of those people who probably irritates the hell out of others. If there is someone behind me in the grocery line and they have two things, I will offer to let them go ahead of my twenty things. Sometimes, the person with two things behind me makes very obvious signs (impatient sighs, looking repeatedly at their watch, tapping their foot) that they are VERY IMPORTANT because they are obviously in a VERY BIG HURRY. Well, you know what? I am organized, calm, and graceful, and if it will help my fellow man to go ahead of me and save 3 minutes of his or her life, I will consider their needs, and let them go ahead. Yes, I let people in who are trying to merge into traffic. Even the douchebags who barrel down the shoulder to where the traffic is merging rather than having the decency to sit and wait in traffic like the rest of us. Why? Well, maybe his wife is in labour. Maybe he really has to go the bathroom. Maybe his child didn't come home from school without calling. In short, I consider what might be causing the other person to act that way, rather than consider what it means to me. And I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I can remember going to a dance performance in the dead of winter. It took me over an hour to get there, and I was mighty relieved when my guy and I made it to our seats. They weren't great seats but we could see, and the music was wonderful. A couple sat behind us and the woman was beside herself. Well, actually her husband was beside her, and he was mortified at her behaviour. She huffed and puffed about the hour-long trip in from the suburbs and how these seats were TERRIBLE and how could they charge THAT MUCH for tickets if she couldn't even SEE. She was ruining the experience for all those around here. For the love of god. Her ranting was so distracting that I turned around and offered her our seats if she thought moving up one aisle would be helpful. She did indeed think so, and despite the silent protests from my guy who is, shall we say, a little less accomodating, we switched seats with the couple behind us. Cons: We were one seat farther than we had been. Pros: The husband shot me a look of gratitude I will never forget. The shrew stopped shrieking so we could actually enjoy the show. The surrounding patrons all thanked us for improving their experience. My personal philosphy has always been to try and make every connection with another human being a positive one. I see no reason to make anyone's day miserable, to inject negativity into someone else's life. I see no reason why, if I'm having a bad day, that I should try to bring others down with me. Make no mistake, I'm no doormat or pushover. Just ask my kids or my guy. I will not tolerate being treated with disrespect. Ever. I can't control the behavior of others but I can definitely set boundaries for what I will and will not accept. I am entirely in control of my own reactions and actions. I only allow those people into my life who enhance it. All others are not welcome. I'm talking here though about the world in general. Here is an example. I'm driving along a stretch of road at a nice, almost-legal clip. There is no one in front or behind me. I see that someone is sitting at a crossroads, waiting to turn in the same direction as I am. Rather than waiting for me to pass - which is the right thing to do because it is clean and green behind me as far as the eye can see - this idiot - I mean person - pulls out right in front of me causing me to slam on my brakes. I then have to trail this person, who is obviously having trouble locating their gas pedal, for the next 10 miles. My instincts tell me that I should be perfectly justified in ramming them, or at the very least passing them, glaring at them, giving them a one-finger salute, and holding up a sign which says something about getting their license in a CrackerJack box. But, my considerate nature says something different. Perhaps it's a teen who just got their license. If it was my daughter making a less than stellar decision on the road, I would hope that those around her won't try to run her off the road or flip her off. Maybe it's someone who just got some very bad news, and they really aren't thinking straight. Let those without sin cast the first stone: I pride myself on my driving, but when I found out my Dad had passed away from a massive heart attack, I'm quite sure my driving wasn't excellent on that long, horrible drive to the out-of-town hospital. And on my way to my brother's house to clean it out after he died, I did indeed get pulled over (and ticketed) because I was going thirty over the speed limit. I had no idea; I was in a fog. My point is, sure, there are a lot of douchebags out there. But can any of us, honestly, ever say we didn't indulge in some douchebaggery of our own at some point, intentionally or not? I think not. I think the world would be a much better place if we all were more considerate of others and recognize we're not all perfect all the time, and that it's not personal. So what does customer service mean? 1. The customer (that's the other guy) is always right. Okay, maybe not right, but we'll at least give him or her the benefit of the doubt. 2. Any failure to deliver on our end should be corrected immediately. If we have contributed to a negative experience, admit it, fix it, and learn from it. 3. Under-promise and over-deliver. Be very careful about what you commit to, but once you do, stick to it and prove your integrity. None of us are perfect, least of all me. I know that at the end of the day, I feel better about myself if I didn't participate in the little dramas that people seem to get themselves caught up in. I feel better if I did my part to improve my corner of the world and the lives of the people in it. In most situations, I consider what's in it for the other guy, not for me. I have made a significant effort in the last few years to live my life in a calm, graceful manner. Gone are the days of living on adrenalin, racing the clock, trying to do a million different things at once. As a result, I move through life being able to observe and adjust with little stress to my life. I factor in time buffers, I don't leave anything to the last minute, and I recognize that each and every one of us is human. It's taken 49 years to get to this serene point and I like it here. I feel sympathy for those who are still running themselves ragged to the point of frustration and exhaustion. I can see my younger self in those folks, and that's part of where the consideration comes from as well: being able to put myself in their shoes. I think the world would be a better place if we stopped flipping people off, and started empathizing. That is, unless someone does anything to my new Mustang. Then all bets are off. blog www.fashionista2passionista.com email me at [email protected] find me on facebook follow me on Twitter @Sharron_R

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