Today was a great day. James made a fantastic lunch and a married couple who grew up in Iran and are now American citizens came for a late lunch at our home and we spent the entire afternoon at our dinner table talking about history, religion, and politics. It was my type of perfect day. I mention this to underscore I was in a good mood and smiling as later in the day I stopped in for fuel at PDQ.
Also wanting a car wash I paid for it and thought to pre-wash my windows just a bit to loosen up a bird dropping with the aid of the liquid and brushes alongside the pumps. There were multiple pumps but the plastic bins at each one of them was bone dry. How could that be?
With a bounce in my step I walked into the building and light-heartedly informed the male worker–about 22 years-of age I suspect–that there was no liquid in the containers. I did not ask for any for myself but just let him know they were empty.
“What I am supposed to do about it?”
I admit to being a bit taken aback by the comment and said matter-of-factly “you might want to fill them”.
“It will not be done until tomorrow”.
Since the sun had not yet set in Madison I, still with a good day in my heart, said, “I am sure there will be others wanting to use the squeegees.”
“I can not do anything about it.”
It was not just the words but the dismissive tone that made me lose my light-hearted touch.
At this point I thought back in my mind to the filling stations of my youth where guys his age did not sit with his phone/tablet on the counter as he had placed in front of him, but would have pumped the gas, wiped the windows, checked the oil, and if asked checked the tire pressure. And smiled!
I ended the conversation with simply saying “This is not the way to treat customers”.
This twenty-something seemed not to even once think that customer service is really still a desirable thing or what one might say to a guy who comes in with a nugget of news about an aspect of your business. This young man could not have cared less about the place he worked or the paycheck he receives from his employer. While I understand he is not making the salary of a rocket technician I also know that the time-honored way of doing your best at whatever job you have still has a place in this nation.
At this point I thought it useless to then inform him there were no paper towels for drying hands in the men’s room. His manager may care when I call on Monday. But this young man must have felt that it was just enough for him to show up to sit alongside a cash register for the afternoon.
I hear from college professors, managers in state government, heads of department stores and others that many who now fall into the pampered 20-something crowd are often real ‘prizes’. The most I encounter of this age group are grad students who live in our neighborhood and on the whole I find them smart and engaging. But I am aware from conversations that there are many out there like the one I talked with today.
As I turned to leave the counter at the PDQ a lady met my eye and said “I agree with you”.
And so it goes.