Look Around There Are Lessons Everywhere

Everywhere I go I learn.  Whether I am waiting for the oil to be changed in my car or standing in line at the bank.  Whether I am driving down the interstate in rush hour traffic or the only person in the movie theater, I learn.

What do I learn?  It varies from day to day and “episode to episode”, but the bottom line is this:  few situations exist in which we cannot learn something if we are willing.  For instance, every day I learn that cultural differences have a greater impact on attitudes and interactions more than the environment in which the interactions take place.  Here is an example of what I mean:

I stopped by the local automotive center to see if they could do an oil change and scheduled maintenance on my vehicle.  I arrived to find four people waiting in line.  The first woman appeared to be in her seventies and was in the process of paying.  Next in line was a couple in the 40-something set in need of an oil change.  Third was a gentleman somewhere in his sixties.  I was next, a person who has been age eligible to run for president for seven years (you do the math!).  Without a doubt our ethnic and other backgrounds were as diverse as our ages.

The first customer quickly completed her transaction.  Just as quickly the couple dropped off the car for the oil change.  Next the gentleman checked in for a pre-scheduled oil change.  My vehicle needs were just as quickly handled.  As I settled in to wait and do some work, another customer arrived.  A very presentable lady of (as the old saying goes) an indeterminate age, as she interacted with the customer service agent another customer entered the establishment.  This new customer (let’s call him customer #6) proceeded to engage the customer service agent with questions interrupting the current customer’s transaction.

The customer service agent politely and firmly directed customer #6 (a male of the 40-something set who, based upon verbal and visual physical clues, was not of US cultural background) that he would be with him as soon as he had finished with the current customer.  The agent went back to assisting the lady of indeterminate age.  Yet again customer #6 interrupted, as if the lady of indeterminate age did not exist.  Again I was duly impressed with the polite and firm response that equated to wait your turn and I’ll be happy to assist you.

Customer #6 was impolitely “unhappy” with this agent response.  Customer #6 quickly departed the establishment in and with his discontent.  Never once did he acknowledge another customer even existed.

Kudos to the customer service agent for never batting an eyelash or responding to any provocation from Customer # 6- even more impressive, the customer service agent made sure that the customer in front of him knew he valued her and her business.  One customer walked out the door – I firmly believe that many more will be walking in, again and again.

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