On Monday, we introduced an important New Voice: Christine Gloss, whose vocation as a writer involves helping people to connect with others and generate good things within our communities. That may sound like a simple idea — but in this era of increasing dis-connection, Christine is talking about powerful skills.
Yesterday, as Christine reflected on the influences that shaped her own life, we showed you snapshots from her childhood and youth. Today, please meet Christine as an adult. (If you remember Nick, one of the little boys in the photos yesterday — that’s Nick, today, next to Christine. Their older sister Roberta is a step above them.)
Greeting the Greeter
By Christine Gloss
The other day I walked into my bank and was respectfully greeted by one of the management staff who was standing in the lobby. He had clearly been assigned to welcome customers as they entered. The gentleman smiled and wished me “Good morning.” I returned his smile and his wish.
Now, I have to admit I made a split-second decision here. I was teetering on the edge of my why-are-you-bothering-me look before I returned his smile.
We all know how competitive the banking industry is today. Multiple mergers are producing mega banks, all scrambling for our business. And they all want us to believe that they care about their customers. The particular bank I had walked into had just been acquired by a new corporation, this, for the second time in as many years. The cynical consumer in me had adopted a “wait and see” attitude. I wondered if there would be policy changes, and if they would be to my benefit.
These thoughts were buzzing round my brain when I first saw and heard that management staffer in the lobby. In fact, I was thinking: Poor guy. His company wants him to stand there and put a human face on their mega marketing efforts.
But it’s a good thing thoughts generate quickly.
Wait a minute, I thought, he is a human face. He was doing his job and I had no reason to think he was doing it with anything but 100% integrity. In this light, to ignore or dismiss him seemed like the ultimate stinginess of spirit. So, I made the decision to acknowledge his greeting and smile back.
When I finished my business at the teller window and was walking toward the door the same greeter said, “Thank you and come again.”
I reflected on the competent, friendly service I had always received at this branch. I smiled back and told him, “Yes. I will.”
The day felt right.
Something of value had passed between human beings.
My experience at the bank got me to thinking about the greeters we see in other places, restaurants and big-box stores to name a few. How many faces do they see each day? How many people acknowledge their greeting? How many avert their eyes or pretend not to hear? Think about the experience of being ignored or treated as inconsequential multiple times during your shift at work.
Pretty painful. And all for something fairly close to minimum wage. Unless you have a thick shell, it wears on your soul.
I also wondered, do we get the greeters we deserve? Have we helped to create the automaton-like welcomes that are so often served up? Do those greeters give up trying to connect with us because we’re unwilling to connect with them?
So here’s my connecting/generative tip for the week, and an assignment for you:
The next time you encounter a greeter: Look them in the eye. Give them a smile. Say, “Thanks!”
Engage them in a little conversation, if there’s not a line behind you.
You’ll be surprised at what a charge it gives you. You could say you’re feeding both your souls.
And be sure and let me know how it goes.
COME BACK TOMORROW for a third story by Christine.
We are eager to hear from you. Please, tell us what you think.
This week, we’re asking that either click on the “Comment” link at the end of Christine’s stories. Or, send an Email to our Home Office and we’ll forward your thoughts directly to Christine.