Today's episode is what triggered this post. I had occasion to shop at a grocery store I'd never been in before. I thought it would be easy because I needed just three things: butter, whipping cream, and a ready-to-bake pie crust. Yes, you know the reason. I'm going to be the (butterscotch--yummy) pie maker for Thanksgiving.
I made my way to the dairy wall, but could not find whipping cream in the section where logically I thought it would be. After looking for what was probably one minute (but felt like five), I stopped a young man who'd burst his way through the 'back room' double doors with a cart loaded with produce. First he pointed to the shelf, then scurried ahead of me to the area . . . and noticed himself there didn't seem to be whipping cream in the case. Excusing himself, he returned to the 'back room' to ask, and reappeared a couple minutes later to help me again. We had both been looking for the wrong thing. Seems there were no cartons this year, just tiny plastic bottles instead, an incognito look for whipping cream.
After thanking him for his help, I rounded the corner to get butter, but then became stymied at where to find the pie-crust. The same young man was unloading his cart in the next area over, and I apologetically interrupted him again. He smiled and marched over to the area--within sight of where I was standing.
"What is your name?" I asked. "Dante," he replied. "Well, Dante, if you don't mind, I'm going to find your manager and tell him how helpful you are." Do I need to say that he broke out in a wide, melting smile? The manager was at lunch, so I called when I got home and left a message for him. The person who answered was smiling through the phone and sounded upbeat and happy at the reason for the call.
Last week I did the same thing for a man at a nearby hospital where my sister was having surgery. Her husband and I were having a tough time finding her status on the board where patients are listed by initials and medical case-numbers only. An incredibly gracious man, Paul, solved our problem. I called his manager the next day to commend Paul as an employee who went out of his way to help people. Even though Paul's job was to assist from behind the 'Surgical Information Desk,' I saw him came out from behind his desk repeatedly whenever he noticed someone in any state of confusion regarding the information published on the status board. When I asked him for his manager's name in order to commend his diligence, he couldn't stop smiling.
I am making a point of letting the people know who help me just how much I appreciate them by telling their manager-boss. Even though simple a 'thank you' is appreciated, to have a boss hear about an employee can make a difference. I can recall from my own manager days how happy I was when a customer made the effort to tell me one of my employees had gone above and beyond. Once at a grocery store when I asked to speak to the manager, I learned that the employee I had commended had been on probation because of some less-than-skillful ways he interacted with customers. The manager told me it meant more to him than I'd ever know because it meant his extensive coaching of the employee was successful.
I hope I will never take for granted receiving help in its many forms. It is so easy to take a minute to tell a 'higher-up' about a good interaction. I hope everyone will try it.