Walmart and a Cup of Coffee

By Cyndy Bolton

As much as some of society disses retail big box stores like Walmart, we can’t lose sight of the fact that many of our friends and family help to anchor them by taking to their employ every day. This is a story about behaviour and customer service, but more importantly, it’s about how we all have the ability to bring a bits of comfort to our peers by combining the simple philosophies of brotherly love and common decency.

I introduce to you, Sara; not her real name, but she looked like a Sara to me. Sara works in the McDonald’s at Walmart. It’s a spot where a steady stream of clients flow who are hungry and in need of a place to sit and relax in between getting the groceries and having an oil lube and filter. The latter was my purpose. Not normally a regular at the restaurant, I had a couple of hours to spend in the store while waiting for my winter tires to be installed.

I picked a seat in a quiet corner; there was one at the back. Chatter surrounded me as I pulled out my laptop with the purpose of catching up on work. As I opened my document, a lady walked by with a beautiful smile. I continued to tickle the keys on my computer, building the plan. A young couple with two little kids sat at the table beside me. The well behaved children ate their lunches. I looked up from time to time and began to notice a pattern. Every time I glanced up. Sara was greeting people, engaging the clients with her bright personality while she worked away..

After about an hour, she stopped at my table, smiled and asked if I would like a coffee. At first I declined; but, as I too was engaged in her positive attitude, I took her up on her offer . She brought me a decaf with “one of each” (cream and sugar), with a smile of course. I thanked her by name and as she briskly walked away to continue her duties. I not only felt warmed by the coffee, but also by her personal touch.

I can’t tell you if it’s because I’m a bit older, but I am noticing a trend. Overall behaviour is turning towards a more rewarding purpose. I heard a statistic not long ago that 97% of humans are “good”. The remainder are not. I believe that the purpose of the 3 percent is to give the rest of us a reality check. True "human condition" dictates that everyone can’t behave to the optimum. It's impossible. Maybe this statistic covers the fact that 100 percent of us make good decisions 97 percent of the time. It also makes it an issue we all own, share and strive to improve. A simple smile can increase the odds.

To put this in perspective, think about the nightly news. If you were to put it into percentages, how much of the broadcast is good news? How much is bad? The reality of this is that it may be the exact opposite: 97 percent bad and 3 percent good. Bad news travels fast. Our thirst for seeing others face adversity feeds our ego and makes us feel better about our own situation. Combine this need to know about the “bad” with a multitude of ways to broadcast it, like Facebook, Twitter ,etc. and you have an unrealistic perspective of the human condition. Mostly bad, not good.

Come to think of it, 100 percent of the people in the restaurant were well behaved. People were engaged with one another. Out of the 150 or so patrons who visited during my stay, not one of them answered a cell phone, texted, or spoke out of the norm. All was good. My observations included many families interacting lovingly, friends passionately discussing municipal issues and singles quietly reading and snacking.

Sara was my connector. You know these people. They’re everywhere. The ones who interrupt your little world and make you reflect on how good the community can be at its best, every single day. Good customer service goes beyond what you learn in the retail or corporate world. It’s about how you interact and connect with people, and what you get out of it on a deeper more personal level . She obviously chooses every day to make a difference in a positive way. She is the reason I’d return again. We need more Sara’s in our world.