Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Friendly Postal Workers

     Too often, when we think of government or municipal employees, we picture the stereotypical image of complacent people who don't seem to care what kind of job they do and don't seem to understand the concept of customer service.  And yet, as with most stereotypes, this is painting a picture with ridiculously broad strokes that ignore the many contrasting examples.  In our town, we have several (and probably many more, but several that I've come to know) postal workers who are shining examples of great service providers.
     For many years, and in several different houses in which we lived, we were fortunate enough to have the same mail carrier.  His name was Keith and he was always such a pleasure to work with.  He was always friendly, and he took a personal interest in those to whom he delivered daily mail.  It wasn't unusual for him to leave a note in our mailbox for my kids with a little money to buy an ice cream or water ice during the summer.  Or we'd get a piece of mail that may have been incorrectly addressed and he'd personally correct it and deliver it to us.  We felt like we had a personal relationship with him, like I imagine small towns must have been like many years ago.
     Over the past year, I've had occasion to go into the post office itself more times than I probably did in my entire life prior to that.  Most of these visits were to mail my book to people or to send a care package to my adopted soldier.  I've come to know two of the people who are often at the counter, Dave and Ida.  They're always exceptionally friendly, helpful, and cheerful - and not just to me.  Once again, I feel like I have a personal relationship there, rather than dealing with officious automatons.  
     Today, I decided to stop by the post office simply to give Ida a Starbucks gift card as a small way of saying "thanks" for her great service every day.  When I got there, she was waiting on one person and there was another in line in front of me.  While the customer at the counter was busy completing some forms, she saw me and asked me (by name, of course) if I needed anything.  I gave her the card and just said that I wanted to thank her for always being so cheerful and helpful.  Predictably, she was surprised, as if to say that it was unnecessary because being so helpful was just her way of doing things.  Nevertheless, it was my pleasure to acknowledge her.
     It's been a recurring theme this year that I seem to find great people in places where others typically find the opposite.  I'm sure the opposite exists in plentiful numbers.  It's just that I tend to focus on the positive and so that's what I notice most.  While it's possible that I have an "unrealistic" picture of "how things are", it certainly makes life more pleasant to look for, see, acknowledge, and reinforce the positive.

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