Saturday, March 16, 2013

Led By A Child

"...and a little child shall lead them."
Isaiah 11:6
(KJV)

Remember the old days when something existed called customer service?
When it meant something?
When employees were courteous and polite and friendly...
and competent?

Whatever happened to that?
Where did it go?
Whatever happened to a person taking pride in their work?
Or being so grateful to have a job that they put their whole heart and soul into it?
Or putting the customer and their needs first?

Kevin and I met while working in a bank in Florida.
The ones who trained us were from the old school.
They taught us that the customer is always treated as if they are right..
whether they are or not.
We had to meet their needs.
We were required to be friendly.
To smile.
To make the branch we were working in feel welcoming and inviting.
To show respect...for every, single customer, 
regardless to their appearance,
amount of money,
good personal hygiene (or lack thereof),
mental capacity,
or any other issue.
The person standing or seated in front of us was the most important 
person in the world....at that moment.
We weren't allowed to put personal business ahead of the customer.
Personal phone calls had to wait.
We were expected to wait on customers promptly, efficiently, 
and to be ready at all times to handle a full gamut of problems and situations.

Whatever happened to that level of customer service?

I miss the good, old days.


We were in Walmart recently, 
and I don't ever remember leaving a store feeling more frustrated.
They didn't have the best selection of fresh produce,
and we had a hard time finding a few items.
It took us quite a long time to get everything we needed,
and we had lots of frozen food in our cart,
along with milk and several other perishables.
We had to ask for assistance a couple of times,
but the overall experience was mediocre...bearable.

That is, until it came time to go to the front to pay for our purchases.

When we got to the front of the store,
we were in for quite a shock.
Out of 25 cash registers in the store,
only 4 of them were open.
And each one of the 4 open registers had lines that were backed up 
longer than I have ever seen, except at Christmas-time.

We couldn't even find the end of the line, at first.
It ended up being backed up way down the middle aisle, 
PAST the jewelry counter!
It was unbelievable.
We took our place at the end of the line behind a family of three....
a Daddy, Mama, and a little boy seated in the cart.
He looked to be about 5 or 6 years old.

It didn't take long to figure out that the line we chose was not moving...at all.
It was like we were frozen in time.  
Speaking of frozen, 
I began to worry about the frozen items in our cart and the other perishables.
Soon, Kevin and Zach began making trips 
back to the frozen foods to put things back.
At the rate we were going, the food would be 
unthawed, even spoiled by the time we got out of the store.
I felt a keen temptation to walk away.
To just leave the cart with all of its contents...
both perishable and non-perishable...
right there where we were...
and walk out of the store.
The still, small voice inside of me told me that would not be the right thing to do.
Walmart would lose the products, which would mean they would lose money,
and that is not something Jesus would do to them...were He standing in my shoes.
So, I begrudgingly waited.
I won't say the temptation didn't reappear....several times...while I was waiting.
Thankfully, God replenished my lacking patience,
and I was able to resist the repeated temptations to walk out.

We stood in the same spot for what felt like a very long time.
Others fell in line behind us,
and soon they began to complain, using profanity, at times.
I could understand their frustration,
though I found it hard to tolerate their language.

Time dragged by.
People became frustrated and left.

All throughout, my eyes kept being drawn to the little boy in the cart in front of me.
He never complained.
He didn't say a word.
Every now and then, he would look at me and flash me the sweetest smile....
kind of timid-like.
His parents were Spanish-speaking,
so I don't know what they were saying, 
but I noticed both of them were talking pleasantly...
laughing now and then.

Each time I felt impatient,
I looked at the little boy.
His lack of impatience grounded me.
Helped me see my own impatience.
Pricked my conscience.

I finally spoke up.

"Your little boy is really sweet.
He doesn't complain.
He is so content."

His Daddy turned around and looked at me,
wearing a smile that started at one ear and seemed to go clear across to the other.

"Thank you.
Thank you",
he said...proud as a peacock.

"Everyone else is complaining,
but he is taking it so well."
I returned his smile, as I watched the little fellow...
seated in the cart...
playing his hand-held game....
happy as a lark in the midst of all of the grumbling and cursing.

"Yes.  He is.
This is ridiculous, isn't it?
What is going on, do you know?"
The man looked at me questioningly.

"No, I have no idea why it is taking so long,
or why they only have four registers open....
especially on a Saturday night."

We continued to make small talk here and there,
and the little fellow continued to smile at me.
He never showed a hint of anger...
no frustration....
no impatience.
He just made the best of the situation,
kept himself occupied,
and remained calm.
He brought a sense of right
to an otherwise wrong situation.

Finally, almost an hour later, we made it to the front of the line.
By the time we got there, God had taught me what I needed to know...
through the behavior of the little child in front of me.
I was able to muster the grace to look at the cashier and smile.
She looked surprised when I apologized to her...
"I'm sorry you are going through so much.
You have been going non-stop for the past almost hour
that we have been in line."
She looked relieved to hear a kind tone of voice.
Our transaction went pretty smooth.
Hooray!
At last.
We left the store.

I thought about the little boy and his family.
I'll probably never see them again.
But, the little guy sure taught me something
and helped me through a trying time...
just by being who he was.

He was content, just because he was with the ones he loves.
He was happy...just because they were near.
He didn't mind the wait, because he was waiting with them.
He had a sense of security that was very deep-rooted.
I could just see it, as I watched him.
As long as they were together, I don't think it would have mattered a bit to him
how long he had to wait or how miserable his surroundings.

He made me think of my own advice about making the most of waiting.
Time is precious.
All time.
Even time spent waiting.
Especially, when you are waiting with the ones you love.


We all encounter wait times.
In the grocery line,
at the gas station,
in doctor's offices, dentist offices, banks,
and countless other places.

There is one doctor's office, in particular, that comes to mind.
I used to take Mom there on a regular basis.
It is not the place to go when you are short on patience.
The doctors are so over-booked and spread thin,
it makes for a very stressful environment.
The receptionist is unpleasant and always seems disgruntled.
The nurses and other staff are usually unfriendly and seem very cold.
Of all of our trips there,
I don't ever remember going there and not having to wait
an unreasonably long, drawn-out period of time...
even with an appointment.
Even after they call you back to the examining room,
you can sit for another hour or two....literally.
I used to cringe each time Mom told me we had to go there.

You know what?
There are days I would give a lot of money to get to sit and wait with Mom like that again.
Even though it was in miserable surroundings.
Even though the atmosphere was charged with stress.
Even though I loathe going there.
I was with Mom.
We were able to talk...
about so many things.
Things that needed to be said.
It was moments shared...together.
I would pay a lot for one of those moments now.

I wish I would have enjoyed them more.

When the moments pass too slowly, we complain.
If only we realized how valuable they really are....
how fleeting....
how that once they are gone, they are gone.
Like drops of water passing through a waterfall.
Never to pass this way again.


Children possess such innocent wisdom.
They automatically know things that we, as adults, 
have long ago forgotten or even worse, have tagged as unimportant.
They spot things we so often miss.
Their sense of perception is keen and untarnished by the clouds of life.
They have countless lessons to teach...
if we aren't too busy to learn....
or too proud to be taught by a child.

God bless the little fellow who opened my eyes the other night....
whoever he was...
wherever he is.

And God help me to remember the lesson.
The next time I have to wait, 
I hope I remember to look around me,
thank God to be with the ones I love,
and just settle in and enjoy the moments.
Because moments are time.
And time is just too precious to grumble about...
no matter how it is spent.

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