Last week, due to a little procrastination and flakiness, I walked into one of the local copy shops at 5:30 the night before I needed sixty-five sets of 40-page, double sided and bound copies. Despite a 6:00 appointment, I Polly-Anna’d my way on faith that I could get it all done.
Things were moving a bit slow at the 24-hour copy center. Bad attitudes and laziness floated from the three “workers” who looked at the growing line with annoyance.
When it was finally my turn, I bounced to the counter. “How are you doing?” I chirp, hoping to spread some sunshine and turn copy-girl’s frown upside down.
She didn’t respond.
She only raised her eyebrows as if to say, “You think you’re going there? … This is my world. You’re lucky to be in it.”
“Okay … well … here’s what I need.” I point to my stack. “Sixty-five sets of 40-page, double sided and bound copies – “
“Hold on there, lady…”
Did she just call me “lady”?!
Smacking her gum, she asked, “When do you need these?”
“By tomorrow morning at 8.”
“Uh, huh, huh … yeah that’s not happening.”
I look around wondering where I am. Is this a service business? Aren’t they supposed to serve customers? People. Is she scoffing me? And being rude?
“Ummm… Yes. Is there a problem?” I ask.
“You want these tomorrow morning… at 8?”
“Or 8:30,” I add, hopeful.
She laughs, “You need to understand something. It’s not going to happen tonight. Maybe in a couple days. But not tonight.”
I can feel my blood starting to simmer as I remind myself to be nice.
“… so there’s no way?” I ask, giving into my never-take-no-for-an-answer reflex.
“Wow. Okay.” I start to gather my things. “I guess I’ll go to Office Depot up the street.” Then for good measure I announce loudly so everyone in the line might hear, “Yup… I’ll just go to OFFICE DEPOT,” like I’m a 4-year-old mad no one will play with me.
Doubtful, I raced over to Office Depot where a different scene met me.
Like the other establishment, three employees manned the area. Unlike the other establishment, hustle and bustle ruled the day.
The line moved. I was next. Kind-guy looked up through his long hair and motioned to me, “Next.”
I took a long breath and walked up to the counter.
“How’s it going?” I ask.
“We’ve been busy.”
“Sure seems like it,” I reply.
“What can we do for you,” he asked.
I started down my long explanation. “I needed sixty-five sets of 40-page, double sided and bound copies – ”
He listened, helped me figure out the least expensive route, then asked the same question copy-girl asked, “When do you need these?”
I gulped, “By tomorrow at 8 a.m.”
He stood silent.
“Or 8:30,” I offer sheepishly, knowing they close at nine.
He bites his lip and turns to a colleague who happens to be walking behind him. “She needs these at 8 in the morning. Do you think there’s any way?”
Colleague joins our conversation. “Hmmm… The problem is – we would have to get all of it done tonight. And we have several orders ahead of you.”
Nodding, Monte adds, “Usually with an order this size we need at least a day. … I’m just not sure we can do it.” He pauses, still thinking. “But – I can see that you really need these. Here’s what I can do. My shift ends in ten minutes. But, I can check with my manager and see if he will let me stay and work overtime to do this job. If he does, then I can get started and work on it to finish as much as I can before we close. I’m not sure I can get it all done. But I can try. And at least some of the order will be complete.”
“You would stay late?” I ask.
“Sure. You need it done. I don’t have anything pressing going on. Listen, I’m a gamer. I can do that any time. You need this now.”
I stood in disbelief. The young man in front of me was actually forgoing his own agenda in order to meet my needs.
“Wow. I can’t believe you would do that,” I say.
“Well, of course. Like I said, I’m not sure I can get it all done, but I’ll try. … If my manager says it’s okay. He’s not here right now. But I will ask.”
Monte then filled out the necessary paperwork, got my phone number if he had any questions and I left, racing to make my dinner. But not before he could Dudley Do-Right me on my way, “I will do my best to get this done. You can count on it.”
Quite the contrast to the other copy center.
I was moved by his work ethic. But more than that, I was touched. This unlikely young man saw me as more than a task. He saw me as a person. A person whose need he could meet. He put aside dinner, his plans for the evening, his agenda … all to meet the needs of a customer. A person. Me.
So often I let the tasks get ahead of the people. I see my to-do’s glaring me in the face. But Monte showed me, as he put off his own interests to see the person standing in front of him, that there is a lot more to life than the tasks. And more often than not, we should err on the side of people rather than the task. (I could have done a better job with copy-girl.)
Arguably the greatest thing about the earth.
Here’s to grooming an other-centered and strong work ethic, like Monte’s, in our kids and ourselves. The world would definitely be a better place.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Wow! I know that I would have not had the same reaction as Monte. What a great lesson for all of us!
What a great story! So refreshing to encounter great customer service like that (although Monte clearly went above and beyond even great customer service!)…a little sad that it seems like an anomaly instead of the norm….
Are you able to get a message to Monte’s manager commending him?? (although you might have already done that!)
My boyfriend had a similar experience yesterday. It’s nice to see someone using common sense instead of blindly following the rules. For a job application, he needed to account for all of his time since graduating college, 30 years ago. A Herculean task as it is. He called a major department store to get the dates he worked there. They referred him to a clearing house that takes care of HR stuff for them. When he called them, in the verification process to make sure he was who he said he was. they asked for his address at the time. (Because I know there are random people out there just calling all of his former employers to see when he worked there.) Anyway, he could only remember the street name, not the address number. They would not give him the info he needs. Really? I guess those dates he worked at the department store 7 years ago are a matter of national security. Why can’t people just use common sense sometimes?
I work in a copy center. One day I was given an order so similar to yours. And I started to panic that it wasn’t going to be done in time. I enlisted the help of other co-workers, skipped my breaks. Honestly, I didn’t even want to do the job. I was mad I wasn’t given enough time. By the customer, by the manager that left it for me so they could go home on time. When the customer came to pick up the order, I had managed to barely get it all done. And then I found out why it was so important. It was a book of pictures of her mother that they were going to be handing out to other family members at her funeral. This was no longer a “job” I had done, it was something personal. And the lady was so thankful that it was done. That was the best part out of the whole thing.