I visited with an old friend last night. “Anne with an E” Shirley transported herself to my home when I discovered she could catch a free flight to my Kindle via Amazon and a wireless connection. It’s been years since I first read Anne of Green Gables, and I didn’t realize how much watching the movie and directing a stage play version of the book had altered my memories of the story in the intervening decades.
After re-reading the first few chapters last night, I realized much of the movie and play dialogue had come straight from the book, but then again, much had been left out. While Richard Farnsworth’s portrayal of the beloved character, Matthew, had captured his shy but loving personality, I’d forgotten that L.M. Montgomery described Matthew as having long hair. I know the movie and play versions well enough that the disremembered details stood out, making this return to Avonlea a bit of a hunt for long-buried treasures.
I’m left wondering at the timing of this unexpected visit with Anne. I often struggle to justify time spent on writing. It’s a process that requires a great deal of alone time, and I often feel I’m using my time selfishly when I could be doing something more worthwhile like solving world hunger, contributing to our family’s income, or interacting with people. My timid forays into publication are followed by long retreats into the comfort of the world of unrecorded thoughts. And yet, this literary visit has made me realize just how much we forget if we don’t write it down. Perhaps, all details are not worth remembering, but some are like this insight from Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 5, which I’ll leave you with today.
“Do you know,” said Anne confidentially, “I’ve made up my mind to enjoy this drive. It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. Of course, you must make it up FIRMLY. I am not going to think back to the asylum while we’re having our drive. I’m just going to think about the drive. Oh, look, there’s one little early wild rose out! Isn’t it lovely? Don’t you think it must be glad to be a rose?”
Last week, I needed to get a key copied. Since I had other shopping that could be completed at the local big box store, I decided to save time and complete all my errands at one place with my first stop being the counter with the key cutter. No one was present, so I walked to the front of the store hunting for store associates along the way. I finally found one in lawn and garden who promised to page the manager.
I headed to the back of the store, hoping to arrive at the same time as the manager, but the counter was still unoccupied. I waited patiently at first. Then, minor impatience brought the store paging phone to my attention.
It was sitting right there.
The buttons were labeled.
The Little “Miss-Chief” inside me began to dream up possible outcomes. Maybe I could page the manager myself or wish everyone an early Merry Christmas or announce a Blue Light Special in a store that never had Blue Light Specials.
Not quite gutsy enough to go through with it, I did the next best thing. First I Googled the store phone number, called the front desk, and was assured someone would be paged.
Then, while still waiting, I photographed the phone and admitted my temptation to my Facebook friends.
What surprised me was that this small admission set off a discussion about help in stores complete with personal anecdotes and possible antidotes for the problems of poor service.
The experience made me wonder about our expectations of others when it comes to service. When we’re the ones swiping the card or handing over the cash, we hang on tight to the maxim, “The customer’s always right!” Store personnel are there for one reason—to serve us.
From a business perspective that may be true, but from a human perspective, I had to wonder at the entitlement and frustration that bubbled up inside me as a result of slow or ineffective service. How does this attitude affect my ability to serve as a customer? Are all requirements and restrictions cast off for my schedule, my wants, my needs when I’m the one paying?
And then, I (metaphorically) put myself on the other side of the counter. Is service a one-way street? Or is there some way that a customer can “re-serve” an employee or business owner during a business transaction, even if it is evident that an employee is being lazy, or rude, or inefficient? Perhaps, service would improve if we became more focused on re-serving those who are serving us:
By quelling our impatience.
By building margin into our shopping schedule.
By being willing to come back later.
By biting our tongue on unnecessary admonishments.
By being direct but gracious about what we need.
By realizing the person on the other side of the counter may need served as well.
The manager finally arrived. She efficiently cut my key within a minute or so after apologizing because she’d been on break. I thanked her and headed off to my next stop—the long line at the pharmacy.
Another chance to re-serve…
At least I already had my key.
After reading this article on the effects of digital reading yesterday, I considered writing a book-length post with no hyperlinks, photos, sidebars, or other distractions.
Instead, I will take the risk of uploading content that may further your descent into becoming a Twitter-brain. It could also contain the antidote to your unchecked malady.
So without further ado, here are three reasons why this post is better than most posts:
1. It’s short. No long-winded meanderings today.
2. It’s headed by a photo of a cheerful daffodil, which means spring has come to the northern hemisphere.
3. It ends with excellent advice: Do something analog today, and don’t come back until you do.
- Go outside and dance in the sunshine (or rain).
- Read a flesh-and-blood paper book.
- Wash the dishes.
- Sweep the porch.
- De-clutter your junk drawer.
- Draw a picture (or a doodle).
- Hug someone.
Now wasn’t that the best post ever?