So, I work in a customer service/Food service industry in a tourist town.
Yes, it is fun. Yes, it is amazing. Yes, I am lying.
Right now, we are coming to the end of our busiest season until Summer hits again. The Winter holidays are always stressful for us. We have to work crazy hours. We have insane amounts of people coming into our shop. We have to suffer through people not knowing what they want, people who want to talk politics to us, people who are angry that we say anything/everything other than “Merry Christmas” – and they want everything NOW!
Most of all, service with a smile.
Short story: A few months back I was having a terrible day. I felt bad, I’d had an awful day of interactions, and to top it off – I was exhausted. Someone came in to the shop and her first words to me?
“You should be SMILING!”
All day and all night I see people in my shop, I see posts on social media, I see blog posts, I see articles and shows, I see books and apps – on being more authentic. I hear people saying how everyone, EVERYONE should be more honest, courageous, authentic.
I, like many, was raised and trained with the philosophy of
“When you come to work, you leave all your problems at the door.”
Even now, when training newbies, we have to give them that talk.
Even now, people come in to our shop – into shops everywhere and they want everyone smiling and happy. But, they want a real answer when they ask, “How’s it going?”
I get it. I don’t want to be covered in other people’s problems when I go to get groceries or a cup of coffee, or nachos.
But, I also don’t demand that they be happy as can be.
If they are someone I know, someone I like, someone I want to know about – I will ask them how they’re doing…
But, come on – which one do you want?
Do you want to know how people really are?
Do you want to know when they’re falling apart?
When they are at the end of their rope?
Do you want a social nicety?
Do you want them to say their “fine” or – even more honest, but not too honest – they’re “here.” “Living and breathing.” “Vertical.” – well?
Or do you want people to smile big, toothy smiles, and give you that happy-happy joy-joy treatment that has been the mainstay of customer service for so long?
It’s not easy to do – pretending to be happy. Day after day, year after year, I have put that mask on when I went to work. Now, after years of doing it, I find myself struggling with it. But, I can still manage to fool everyone – customers, boss, coworkers – into believing that I am Jim-Freakin’-Dandy.
Please, especially during the busy times of year, be nice to people in the service industry. Be patient with them.
Be kind and patient with me.