At a very early age, I was blessed to get
my first job at a local store in the city I was born into. (It was ten miles from the tiny town I grew up in.) This was on the Canadian border. People could/would tolerate many uncomfortable
situations in their days; however, being mistreated would always cross the line. Top management at the well-known grocery chain (Piggly Wiggly) did business there and understood the residents (young and old). Since I had
shown interest in applying for a job at their local store they at once began training me. Best advice I ever received. One evening after maybe my second day at work, they kindly left their ‘golden tower of fame’, put on some ratty old jeans and drove several miles to be with us young people. I will never forget their kindness and compassion for new people. Their main stream of words (for a couple hours) was basically:
Treat every person entering our front doors as though they were the president of the United States and our first lady. We have many farmers in our area, plus mechanics, the homeless, preachers, and children. moms. and dads. This may be difficult to believe, but here is the truth. They are busy humans, and did not have time to bathe, slip into clean clothing to come and visit our store. Get this truth also: they have YOUR money in their pocket, a part of it belongs to you. Being we all are a branch of this beautiful redwood tree, we grow together with all the people—all. Other people love kindness coming into their lives daily—and we can be the vehicle to deliver it as they hand us our checks.
The training they gave me was a key for fun living for many years. (Umm, there is an old saying: Treat others the way you like to be treated. They are only words but tons of wisdom.) About four years ago, I started a small survey company in my town now. I did it because some major outlets were not following the ‘Piggly way.’ My first week here I was told by a clerk, “don’t expect much service here, because all that goes to our classmates from high school.” I thought about that for maybe five seconds, then began thinking about a special little survey company of my
own. After a few years it became reality. I had all that time to think of the best way to do it. Here is how it worked. I would go into a store, make a purchase, then save my receipt. If the clerk was rude or nasty, I would code it “let it go.” If it was kind and sincere I would code it “report.” In other words, I did not squeal to headquarters the rude stuff, but would lift the good ones to a higher level with a good report. (I took this little company with me to surrounding small towns with huge success). One COLD night out camping I ran out of propane, so drove into town. Only three employees in the store. The one who waited on me was a young beautiful Black girl. She quietly asked how she could assist me. I told her I needed propane for my heater. “Follow me,” she said. I told her she need not go with me to the other side of the store, as I could find it by myself. She turned and smiled—kept walking. We found the propane and started back, sharing small talk. I paid for my purchase, took my receipt, and left. In my car I wrote the following in bold dark letters: “Report!” Three months later, I just happened to see her at a parking lot taco store. She came up to me and said, ‘Thanks.” I knew why she said that, but I said, “What for?” She smiled hugely and told me that she was rewarded with a sign saying her name—plus EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH. Black people have awesome smiles, but this one took the cake!!
by Robert D. Anderson