Day 20. ( I got it right on the first try!) Now, I don’t want to jinx myself, but along with my knowing what Day it is prowess, I also seem to be getting better at remembering to secure the upper cabinets before departing on the road. Not today; we don’t have to go anywhere today. We get to enjoy the view over the Bay of Green Bay for another 24 blissful hours. By blissful, I mean we do get to sit by the water, but nobody is relaxing because there’s a dog barking two doors down, there are squirrels and bunnies running anok, and Gatsby is on high alert. I’m trying to reframe this by focusing on using this opportunity to work on obedience training with my incredibly reactive asshole of a dog. We’re all on high alert, really. Back to the getting better at van life bit…. Don’t worry, I make up for the bout of accuracy with the cabinets by forgetting to turn on the water pump basically every single time I get in the shower. So I get approximately 9 seconds of water (just enough to get myself soaked so that I leave a wet trail when I have to inevitably have to get out to turn said water pump on) before it trickles off and I have a brief moment of panic, wondering what’s gone wrong.
Today I’d like to tangent off of the van adventure to talk about customer service, since almost everyone in every job has something to do with customer service. My point of view is this: whatever you’re doing, try not to suck at it, and don't be a dick (that goes for general life, too). I’ve worn many hats so far in my 40 years, and I’m going to pull a few key points from some of them.
1) My very first job was at the McDonald’s in Adrian, MI. I got hired on my 16th birthday, and got to work. Because I was fairly cute and p̶r̶e̶t̶e̶n̶d̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ somewhat perky, and because we still hadn’t gotten past a lot of sexism in 1997 (ie. The girls worked at the front counter, the guys worked the grill), I almost always got put either at the counter or in the drive thru; every once in a while, I’d get thrown on fries. Now fries happened to be my least favorite job to do. It was hot, greasy, stinky, and no fun (modern day me would probably forking love the fry station because I don’t have to interact with many people. See, I do totally get not wanting to interact, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Or I might forget. We'll see.). One day (and please keep in mind that we were the ‘popular’ McDonald's, right next to the mall, which in its heyday was THE place to be, so we were busy all the time) I was working fries. It was right during the lunch rush, and I’m certain I had a piss poor attitude about it. The owner of this McDonald’s (his name was Dutch) happened to be in the store that day and he came over to help on fries. He knew that I was grumbly grumbly that day (I wasn't as professional back then as I pretend to be now), and he saw the shit job I was doing (you know, fries that went into the boxes resembling a composite of mish-mashed skeleton fingers reaching up from the grave) and he said to me, “You’re going to have jobs you don’t like. I know you don’t like working the fry station, but that’s where you are today, so you have two choices. You can bitch about doing fries and do a half-assed job at it and make shit fries, or you can make the best, most beautiful fries these customers have ever seen.” That was it. I took that to heart and being the people-pleaser perfectionist that I a̶m̶ was, I became an absolute ROCKSTAR at fries, and basically everything else I did at McDonald’s. Another small tangent from my tangent, it was at this McDonald’s that I got my first taste of standing up for both myself and for what’s right, and I became the first female to join the stock truck team (basically a semi-truck arrives with all the supplies and crap that support the store, and someone has to move that shit from the truck to the appropriate locations. Before me, it was exclusively a guy’s team). At any rate, any job that you have, not matter your personal feelings about it, is worth doing to the best of your ability.
2) A lesson learned from theatre: I’ve been doing theatre since I was a small child, with a brief hiatus while I was in the Navy. I’m pretty sure my first role was as an Ugly Duckling in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Ugly Duckling. One thing you learn in theatre (and maybe in film too, but I’m less familiar with the nuances there) is that there are no small roles, only small actors. This applies to jobs, too. You’re not above your job. I don’t care what your job is – it could be CEO, it could be a garbage man, it could be a shit-shoveler, I don’t care - you’re not too good for it, so get off your high horse and do the best you can.
3) Something I learned from a gym that I worked at hits the nail smack dab on the head: customer service. We are all in customer service, whether your job description says customer service or not. I may not have cared for my boss personally (or professionally, for that matter, but I did have the opportunity to practice using my voice to stand up for myself in both capacities, but that’s another story), but he did teach me some valuable lessons in how to interact with people. I am pretty sure that my job application for a personal trainer never specifically stated customer service. I’m pretty sure that application for the dude selling roof rack gear that really sucked at his job this week probably didn’t specify customer service either, but in the end, every damn job on the planet deals with people in some capacity, so get on board with it. I promise, with both my current professional hats (personal training and short-term rentals) I have to deal with idiots every once in a while, too, and you know what I do? Smile, and provide them the best service I can. Tell them where the plunger is and give them tips on unclogging a toilet using hot water and dish soap, while they yell at you because they've clogged your toilet on Christmas Eve. Tell them what the WiFi password is, even though it's in both the welcome guide and in their email, if they'd only bother to read either. Do the Google search that they could have done when asked "what's there to do around there?" Text them that there's no ironing board on the premises and that's why you didn't list it as an amenity after they've CALLED AIRBNB TO ASK THEM WHERE AN IRONING BOARD IS! Dear me, I've gotten off track. Where were we? Yes, providing excellent customer service. You want to roll your eyes? Do it later. Laugh about it with your friends if you want. Vent. Make it into a funny blog post (ahem). You get my drift. When you are dealing with people, just don’t be a dick to them.
In a gym, you don’t always get to pick and choose your clients. It’s different working independently (you DO get to pick and choose your continued interactions!), and I do love working for myself (I’m an introvert, so the gym scenario is quite taxing to the mental energy stores. I really don’t like (s̶t̶u̶p̶i̶d̶ people, okay, anyone) telling me what to do. I can tell myself what to do just fine). Anyway, back to the gym scenario…..yes, you get to train some people who you love off the bat and who end up in your friend group. You also work with people that you’d rather not, and then there are some that you wouldn’t spit on if they were on fire. The bottom line is that you are polite and respectful to ALL of them, and you do your best job. From the second they walk in the gym as a new member, and are nervous, to when they are fully confident and throwing a kettlebell around like they were born with it in their hand, THEY ARE PAYING YOU FOR A SERVICE. Don’t forget that. Also, refer back to #1 and #2.
There’s a saying, and I might mess this up, but it goes something like this: people might not remember exactly what you said or what you did, but they’ll remember the way you made them feel. Trust and believe, not acting like a customer that you’ve been paid to interact with is a giant pain in the ass, will go a long way. Acting (and plenty of time it is, indeed, acting) like you actually give a shit about the person will go an even longer way.
Okay, end customer service rant. As you may have surmised, I had an unpleasant experience in this arena. It involved me not getting the brackets for my roof mount, and possibly the (still) lack of awning shade on that side of the vehicle, coupled with shoddy cs, really goes up my ass sideways. But I’m going to let that go now to focus on Goodly Gatsby training, and the view that my BW hosts have shared with me for another night. Tomorrow, we make haste (okay, okay, it’s me…..we know I’m not making haste anywhere) for the Upper Peninsula of my birth state! Until we meet again.