Watch Your Attitude
By Peter L DeHaan
a weekend trip a while ago, my wife and I found ourselves at the local
McDonald’s for breakfast. “I’ll have a number
10,” I decisively informed the perky and personable teenage-looking
girl at the counter. She acknowledged my request
and smiled pleasantly. This encouraged me to make
small talk while my wife contemplated her choices. Not
fully awake or alert, I said something which was apparently mildly
humorous, causing her to laugh and brighten her smile. “What
a pleasant way to start my day,” I thought, glancing at her name
tag; it said, “Amber.”
wife conceded that what she wanted wasn’t part of a meal deal, nor
were the items listed individually. Amber was
helpful. “Tell me what you want and I will see
what I can do,” she encouraged. My wife listed
three disparate items and Amber began pushing buttons on her cash
register. After a series of thoughtful keystrokes,
she proudly announced that she had accomplished my wife’s request.
We paid for our meal and stepped aside to await it.
the people behind us placed their order, Amber’s positive, friendly
demeanor continued to capture my attention. Suddenly
she saw someone out of the corner of her eye. Her
smile widened as she looked up and her face beamed, “Good morning
Jimmy,” she excitedly called out. In the split
second that it took for my glance to move from Amber to Jimmy, I
anticipated whom I might see. Certainly, he would
be her peer, perhaps a jock or a maybe prep, possibly even her
was wrong. Jimmy was an older man with a weathered
face, worn clothes, and a considerable limp. He
moved forward with deliberate effort, alternating between a
herky-jerky lunge followed by a short shuffle. As
he made his way across the room, he did not attempt to get in line,
but headed straight to an open space at the counter near Amber.
considerable effort, he produced a handful of coins and cupped them in
his twisted and arthritic-looking hand. He tipped
his hand forward and with careful effort, gave it a little shake.
Two coins spilled out onto the counter and then a third.
As if not satisfied with his progress, he poked his gnarled
index finger into his open hand and moved it around as though stirring
a pot. Then he flicked a fourth coin onto the
counter, stirred some more, and released a fifth. With
the last coin still rattling on the counter, Amber was there.
She picked up the coins, rang up an unspoken order, pulled a
dime from the cash drawer, and carefully dropped it into Jimmy’s
still cupped hand.
happened next made me curious. Amber reached under
the counter and pulled out a handful of supplies. Then
she turned to the coffee pot behind her and laid the contents in her
hand on the table – two containers of cream and several packs of
sugar. This seemed backwards and inefficient –
pour the coffee first, then get the additives. Amber
grabbed a coffee cup and filled it half full. Even
more curious. Did Jimmy only want a half of a cup?
She then picked up one of the creams, gave it a brisk shake,
meticulously opened it, and carefully – dare I say, lovingly –
emptied its contents into the cup. Then she
repeated the procedure with the second cream.
glanced around the room to see if anyone else needed her assistance.
Assured that she was not neglecting another customer’s need,
she picked up a pack of sugar, shook its contents to the bottom and
prudently tore off the top, so as to not waste any, pouring every
granule into the coffee. She repeated this a second
time, but then another customer momentarily diverted her from
Jimmy’s coffee. She returned to the partial cup
and added two more sugars. But her task was still
not complete. Amber then produced a stir stick and
thoroughly mixed the contents. Upon being satisfied
with the results, she then topped off the amalgamation with more
coffee, put on a lid, and presented it to a grateful Jimmy.
didn’t do any of this begrudgingly or with indifference, but with
all the care and precision of someone making their own cup of coffee.
She was there to serve Jimmy and she did so happily and without
hesitation. I was touched by her kindness and
thoughtfulness. Such a gesture was probably not
found in the restaurant’s efficiency manual, but it was the right
thing to do. Amber’s attitude and actions
established the framework for the rest of my day. If
her example affected me to such a great extent, I can only guess what
it did for Jimmy’s day.
imagine that, when Jimmy woke up that morning, there was no question
in his mind where he would go for coffee. I surmise
that his morning trek to McDonald’s was routine and habitual.
I suspect, however, that he wondered who would wait on him.
He might have said to himself, “I hope Amber’s working
today. She treats me like I’m special; my whole
day goes better when she gets me my coffee.”
I wonder what Amber thought before work that morning. Did
she make an intentional decision to have a positive attitude, thereby
producing a difference in the lives of those with whom she came into
contact? She may have, but I suspect it wasn’t
necessary. I think that her attitude of cheerfully
going the extra mile was so much a part of her that it had become
routine and habitual. While I was focused on my own
needs, Amber’s attitude was to focus on those around her.
And what a difference she made, not only for Jimmy and for me,
but for the other customers and for her co-workers as well.
was challenged by all this. My attitude as I start
each day, no doubt, affects how my day goes and has a ripple effect on
those around me. Though it's unlikely I will ever
match Amber’s personable, outgoing disposition, I can aspire to her
positive, helpful, serving attitude.
you have someone like Amber working in your organization? What
if all your staff was like Amber? Then customer
satisfaction would be exceeding high, complaints and service problems
would be non-existent, and your company would be an even greater place
it's pouring coffee or doing something something else, we all can have
employees like Amber – and it's not hard; all it takes is an
intentional effort to have a positive attitude. That
positive attitude starts with you – and it can start today!
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