Thursday, March 1, 2012


            Almost 17 years ago, my son came into this world like a lamb – not like the gentle ones described in the Bible – he was angry, wriggly, noisy. He greeted us with loud, unrelenting bleating as if he’d been waiting for nine months to express an opinion. Four years later, my daughter, full of quiet assurance, greeted us with a couple of squeaks and blinks before being swaddled in warm blankets and sleeping contentedly under the bright lights.  
            Greetings matter.
A few days ago, on another reluctant trip into Wal-Mart, I was NOT welcomed to Wal-Mart by a Greeter who was about three shades past resentful. I smiled at her, waiting for the opening line. Nothing. I slowly shuffled past her, still waiting for that semi-friendly Greeter voice. Nothing.  I looked back over my shoulder and said, “Good morning!” Oops, make that four shades.
I decided right then to begin practicing for my future career transition – from, uh, Coffee Drinker (?) to Professional Wal-Mart Greeter. This should happen quite naturally. After all, I: 1. look good in a blue vest 2. love to greet and 3. like to smile at anyone who looks particularly cranky or is wearing tight, black crop pants and a 1980s rock band tank top.
I read in the newspaper (the printed copy of your app that shows up on some people’s driveways) that Wal-Mart was eliminating greeters from the over-night shifts and moving the day greeters away from the doors. Sam Walton started the Greeter system in 1980 as a way of making shoppers feel more comfortable and to improve customer service. Sam understood human nature.  
Recently, my daughter and I were in a KFC. Except for taking our order for extra crispy (of course!) in a disinterested way, the employees ignored us and spent 15 minutes loudly discussing last night’s party, somebody’s broken-down truck and one of the girl’s newest tattoos. Contrast that with Chick-fil-A drive-through employees – where DO they find these people? (You can see the exclamation marks when they talk.) “How can I serve you today?! “It’s been MY pleasure to serve you! I hope you have a wonderful day!”
It was SUCH a pleasure for me that I inhaled those addictive, overpriced chicken nuggets (my daughter calls them “manna”) before I pulled out of the parking lot. I considered turning back into the drive-through line.
My mother and I are on a “hug basis” with most of the employees at an undisclosed location where we regularly eat dinner. At least two – OK, make that fourish – coffee shops in town know my usual order. The employees at one place seem to be gauging my mood before placing my order – Tuxedo? Triple Mocha? Love Berry?
As it turns out, incorporating my newfound Greeter skills into my current day job will not be difficult.
“Welcome to your final exam! You’ll need two pencils and your brain! It’s been my pleasure to serve you!”
Or, I could tell my students the same thing I will soon be telling my son.
“Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:3)

1 comment:

  1. Stunning, again.

    I hate to hear they're eliminating greeters...there goes my retirement.

    Thank you!!!!