Thursday, June 28, 2012

How May we Help You?

Thomas, Cameron and Terrance.

A funny thing happened to Auntie the other day and I hope it happens to you too and often!

Picture this:  the red gas tank warning light comes on in your car.  Oops, you're almost out of gas.  You drive your car into the nearest gas station, ready to fiddle with the nozzle, pump gas in your tank, get your hands dirty, curse a bit when you're almost overcome by gasoline fumes and then need to pay for all that fun.  
But this time was different.  When I pulled my car up to the pump, three young men ran over to my car.  I locked my doors and grabbed my shoe phone, fingers poised over the "9-1-1" key, ready to squeal the heck out of there.  I thought I was just about to get robbed!

But then I noticed that those three young men were all wearing the same shirt with the same logo. Then as they came closer I realized that they were all quite handsome.  And wait!  They all had name badges pinned to those well pressed shirts.  And wait, they were all smiling!

Hmm.  Thugs with crime on their minds don't usually smile.

Auntie cautiously rolled down the window a crack and no more, just in case it was a clever ruse.  One of the young men put his face next to the window, smiled, and asked, "fill it up ma'am?"   Auntie unlocked her car doors and smiled a smile of relief at Uncle Jim. This looked familiar somehow...  It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's... service!  

For any of you reading this who were born say, after 1980 or who have never visited Hong Kong or Japan, the subject of this post may be a little foreign for you.  It's all about service.  Good service.

What is this strange thing called, "service" you ask?  Gather round boys and girls and Auntie will explain.  

Look closely.  This is squeegeeing.  It's included with your gas.

Service is something you are offered generously and thoughtfully by others to help you.  It's something we all notice and remember.

Good service is meant to make your life easier and your day more pleasant.  It's the opposite of bad service from lazy and selfish people who yak on the phone to their friends while you're trying to get information or pay for something.  Sadly, we all know what bad service looks like these days.

Here's another example from bygone days of what service looks like:  you buy lots of things at a grocery store and while you pay for them, someone puts your purchases in a bag and offers to carry it all to your car.  I can see you scratching your heads and wondering what that would feel like.  Take Auntie's word for it, it's quite nice!
Check your tire pressure Ma'am?

Terry O'Reilly on his excellent CBC radio programme called, Under the Influence, has a recent episode called, "It's the Little Things" describing his experience with companies who excel at customer service and how they do it. Some of the stories are heart warming,  some are clever and some are just common business sense.

At our local Home Hardware shop, the customer service is always attentive and welcomed.  They have lots of staff walking around so within minutes after you arrive, someone will ask you if you need help.  Auntie is always glad for help in finding that strange plumbing whatchamacallit or to get some helpful advice on which sprinkler to buy or what toxic liquid you need to remove stubborn paint stains.

By the way, while Terrance was filling the gas tank, ding, ding, ding, and Cameron was squeegeeing my windows, swish, swish, swish, and Thomas was checking the oil, dip, dip, dip, Uncle Jim and I were sitting comfortably in the car, kiss, kiss, kiss.

After they verified that the tank was full and things were under control with Auntie's car, Thomas tended to another customer who had arrived at the next pump.
Pretty pastel car wash goo
After Auntie paid, she and Uncle Jim drove through the car wash.   After all, we wanted the car to look spiffy for our trip to The Dairy Queen for ice cream.

Auntie's hoping that whenever her red gas warning light comes on, she's near the Island Park Esso Service Station.  Or when she needs some hardware do-dad she's near her local Home Hardware store.

Let's hope good service catches on.


  1. How I loved this post and who wouldn't? Yes, I also remember the days of service just as I do buying shetland wool sweaters (yes, 100% wool) each fall for a reasonable price. Thank you for this!


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