I've recently returned from 3 weeks in South Africa. One of the things that made an impression on me was the personal service we received in places like shops, restaurants, petrol stations. While not universally good, mostly it was friendly, helpful and enabled us as customers to feel cared for and special. Some people have the gift of cheering the spirits of others. The voice of the cynic in me said that if wages are low then customer tips are important and providing excellent service helps ensure a good tip. Whether or not that was the motivation for some, the people offering the service still provided a positive experience for the customer. At home in the UK the customer experience varies enormously. However there is one supermarket where I regularly shop partly because I know the experience will be positive, the staff are courteous, helpful and will go the extra mile when needed. And they don't expect to be tipped! A supermarket cashier in Rhode Island Maxine Dennis shared her philosophy of work in these words:
"Cashiering in a supermarket may not seem like a very rewarding position to most. But to me it is. You see, I feel that my job consists of a lot more than ringing up orders, taking people’s money, and bagging their groceries. The most important part of my job is not the obvious. Rather it’s the manner in which I present myself to others that will determine whether my customers will leave the store feeling better or worse because of their brief encounter with me. For by doing my job well, I know I have a chance to do God’s work too. Because of this, I try to make each of my customers feel special. While I’m serving them, they become the most important people in my life."
Source: Of Human Hands: a Reader in the Spirituality of Work (ed. Gregory F. Augustine Pierce)
What a lovely attitude and good example to follow!