I woke up grumpy this morning, but I think I have a good reason. If you will indulge me for a moment, I think by the time I’m finished ranting you will understand.
I have only had two jobs in my lifetime. The first one was here, at the local grocery in my hometown. In those days, it was called Ellis’ Super Valu. Don Ellis hired me in July 1974, and over the next six years I learned so much – about the grocery business, about business in general, and mostly about dealing with people. I grew up in that store. I still remember the day I left in 1980 (the next day, I started the job I have now) – the last thing Don said to me as my employer was, “If you ever get hungry . . .” Don retired about ten years ago (I still see him almost every day at the YMCA), and Ron Kronenberger owns the store today – which makes me feel old at times, since I broke Ron in on his first day as an employee there.
The first thing Don Ellis taught me was this – every customer who comes in the door, whether he or she buys a pack of gum or a cartload of groceries, is the reason you get a paycheck. They do us a favor every time they come in the door, so make sure you thank them every time you check them out or carry their groceries to their car. I have never forgotten that. I don’t think I truly got it as a teenager, but when it’s required and you do it often enough, it becomes ingrained. And somewhere along the line, I started to understand.
Which leads me to this – last night I was in that grocery. Picked up a few items, and went through the checkout line. The kid who checked me out never spoke to me once – just rang up the order, ran my credit card, and handed me a receipt. He didn’t seem to care at all – in fact, he seemed more annoyed that I had interrupted him. I run into that way too much these days – when I go through the drive-thru line at McDonald’s (or any other fast food place), I rarely get a thank you. When did it change? These days, apparently I am an irritation and you are doing me a favor by taking time out of your busy day to take my money.
Not here. You do us a favor every time you call on the phone, check out our website, come in the store, wander through our convention booth – even when you read my mindless wanderings on the blog or the e-mail list. I appreciate it, and I thank you for it.
And every now and then, I think of what Don Ellis taught me and I remember why. And I wish there were a lot more like him who taught their employees why they have jobs.
Thanks, Don . . .