Nearly four decades ago, on a cold, grey, rainy, overcast day, I found myself pounding the pavement ISO employment totally irrelevant to my God given talents. If all went “well” I’d soon be punching retail world’s time clock and giving my all to some employer who’d be giving me next to nothing in return… paying me $2.65 per hour minimum wage. With unemployment being at a then all-time high, I was fully expecting to wind up “drowning” in the sea of applicant faces.
It was late that afternoon, while filling out my application (along with a couple of other wannabes) when, Diane, our prospective boss, came over to chat with us. She had a problem. As it turned out, the three of us comprised fifty percent of all who had shown up for the entire day! She was wondering if we could remember some of the specific details of her help wanted ad’s content.
While reaching into my suit coat’s inner pocket I cheerfully said, “I can do better than that,” adding, “How about all of the details?” as I produced the actual, neatly clipped out newspaper ad.
Long blog short, I got the job. Logically, I had attributed my “success” to the fact that so few people had applied… but that wasn’t really the case. Following the second run of my boss’s help wanted ad, applicant response had been far better.
Well, it wasn’t until about six months afterwards when I found out the real reason. On that day, as Diane and I chatted while unpacking and merchandising a new shipment of Levis™, she told me that she had considered my pre-interview, eager to help attitude (even without any guarantee that she’d be hiring me), the living embodiment of the excellent customer service I’d be providing on the selling floor. And I spent the next 20 years working for the same company… amply proving her assessment of my character had been spot-on.
My overall point being? Each and every day, without even consciously doing so, each and everyone of us winds up putting our true character on display… and the people we meet can and do evaluate us when we’re least expecting it.
Case in point? My 90-year-young next-door neighbors1 have employed a professional groundskeeper. The man usually parks in front of my house and uses my lower driveway to enter their property perched atop his rider lawnmower.
Well, a few days ago, following an overnight, gusty rainstorm, a thin, 3 m / 10 ft. long branch… weighing a scant 0.9 kg / 2 lbs. (tops)… had fallen and blocked access to my driveway. This left that lawn care dude the following options:
- Easily snap the branch in half and toss it onto his truck’s long empty trailer.
- Quickly slide the branch onto my lawn to get it out of his way.
- Totally avoid all the “extra work” and use his clients’ driveway instead.
Had our roles been reversed, at the very least, I would’ve opted for choice “2”.
Need I even say that he chose option “3”? True, I fully realize he was under no obligation to do any work for any non-paying customer… but he did demonstrate to me a level of pettiness, which is most unbecoming of any truly professional businessperson. Moreover, might such an attitude be a reflection of his overall work ethic? After all… don’t customer care and lawn care go hand in hand?
Now, just for the record, I’m neither a lazy man nor did I even come close to working up a sweat re the disposal of that downed branch.
Nonetheless, this incident did provide me an excellent study in human nature… and I did learn much. Needless to say, I was not impressed.
You see, there may come a time, as I get older, where I might need to hire someone to maintain my lawn. And I’m not entirely sure my neighbor’s groundskeeper would be my first choice anymore.
How that guy dealt with that 10 foot long branch begs the question… would I… would you… choose to “touch” such a petty lawn care service (or any other such business firm) with a 10 foot pole?
1 I say “young” because upon meeting them, you’d judge them to be in their 60s.