The Ripple Effect… by JoAnn

A yellow sign that says be the reason someone smiles today.

A while back, I wrote a missive about the importance of saying “thank you.” Today I realized that things have not improved at all since I wrote that missive.

With all that is going on in this world, kindness is not only very needed, but it is also the most “FREE” thing we can offer anyone. It costs absolutely nothing, folks!

A simple “thank you” or a smile with a “good morning” can go a long way in causing a ripple effect in someone’s life. Maybe that person you give a friendly smile and good morning to will feel more hope for their day because of your efforts. Perhaps they will, in turn, smile at someone and have a kind word for someone else to help them get through their day.

The ripple effect is real. Positive breeds positive, and negative breeds negative. Whether it’s in an attitude or action, it matters!

I went to a drive-through last week in hopes of receiving a nice hamburger for my lunch. Getting out of the house the past two years has been rare for me. When I do decide to get out, I want to enjoy myself. I love hamburgers, and I looked forward to having one this day.

Upon giving my order to the lady on the other end of the speaker box, I knew instantly that things weren’t going to go smoothly. She was clearly busy doing something else, and I did not have her full attention. She asked me to repeat my order at least three times before she finally had it correct, or so I had thought. When she gave out my total, it was about $3 over, so I knew she had not heard me the two times I explained that I had a coupon.

I pull up to the window with a smile on my face, not really too bothered. Perhaps the workers were just swamped inside. The lady who took my order was not the usual teenager I see at this fast food joint. She was around forty. She tells me my total, and I hand her my coupon. Without saying a word to me, she yells, yes YELLS, to another employee, “How do I do this?!”. She finally got the total correct, and I handed her my debit card. I was given my hamburger, and off I went. There was no “thank you,” no sorry for the mix-up, nothing. And definitely no smile.

I guess you could say I was a little put-off by the service I had just received. I have encountered many teenage employees who do not say thank you or act friendly. I know they are still learning, and don’t take it too personally. After all, if their home life has not taught them to say thank you and to be kind, they are not going to be that way at work. It will take a while for them to learn the importance of both on their own.

But someone forty years old should know better! I may have had a coupon and was receiving a half-priced burger, but still, I deserved to be treated with professionalism and courtesy just as much as a customer who was ordering one of everything on the menu.

My question as I pulled out of the parking lot was, “What are these managers telling these employees when training them?! Are the managers actually training them?!” I am beginning to think that professional training is a thing of the past. Why else would this be happening every place I go? I am a kind person who greets everyone with a smile and a pleasant disposition. I know the problem is not me.

I had a conversation with my oldest granddaughter, Randi, about this. She had worked in fast food at Subway for a while. Randi is 17 and will graduate this year. She assured me that she was always kind and said thank you to customers and gave them the best service she could. I believed her. And I felt very proud not just of Randi, but my daughter & son in law who I know had raised her to be this way.

Randi did tell me several stories of horrible customers she had to deal with. Each of my three daughters has had their turn working for customer service, so I’ve heard many of these stories before. I have always taken that into account when I am the customer. I make a special effort to be kind, patient, and forgiving. But even someone like me has their limit, I guess.

I decided that was the last time I would endure such unpleasantness at that particular fast food place. They no longer had me as a customer. I’m sure they won’t miss me as I didn’t spend much money there. I still believe it is a shame for them to lose a good customer, though. I wonder what the manager, or better yet, the owner, would think of this story. Would it make a difference somehow? Would they try to train their employees to have better manners? Who knows. Maybe I’ll try to find out.

No matter what, I will continue to do my best to make a positive ripple wherever I go. I hope you’ll join me.