Monday, January 18, 2010

Noticing Miracles in Your Path

If you are anything like me, you are often praying for one miracle or another.  Rarely do we notice the results of our prayers.  Right?

Of course, I often find that my miracle requests are somewhat bodacious in nature.  They're heavy lifting, if you will.  Who prays to find spare change in your coat pocket so you can pay the parking meter? Not me.  I'm busy praying for world peace, a cure for obesity, to hit it big in the Lotto, or to have some random celebrity buy me a summer home (whatever, quit judging my miracle requests, I'm sure yours aren't so alturistic!).

The truth is that more often than we realize it we're stumbling over one miracle or another.  Typically, we're so darn busy looking for the big ticket items that we don't notice those everyday miracles in our path.

I was blatantly reminded of the everyday miracles this weekend when I received the earth shaking news that a dear friend of mine, Lynn Heilig Faber, had fallen from a ladder while conducting inventory at her Holland business.  She fell six feet onto a concrete floor.  Today she is recovering from the resulting brain injury at a local hospital.  I'm sure she doesn't feel great today, but she is alive.

The path that Lynn took on Friday was strewn with simple, everyday miracles.  They happened in real time.  Nobody was praying for them.  There wasn't a prayer chain feverishly working on her behalf.  A Higher Power just took up the charge and peppered Lynn with a handful of miracles.

I feel sort of enlightened to have noticed them.  Typically I'm oblivious to this type of thing (remember, I'm busy crossing my fingers for an A-lister to buy me that summer home on Lake Michigan!).  First, she wasn't alone at work that morning, Joe (her husband and business partner) was within earshot and responded immediately.

Second, as she fell from the top of a 6-foot ladder her foot must have tripped on a rung of the ladder.  This caused her fall to shift a bit and she landed on her shoulder first, then the back of her head hit the floor.  She's no ballerina, but I must applaud the choreography!  How often does that chain of events line up?

I've been friends with Lynn since our freshman year in college at Grand Valley State Univeresity in 1985 (holy smokes!).  She was the maid of honor in my wedding 18 years ago.  We go way back.  I feel justified in pointing out that she's always been hard-headed.  But, really?! This is a bit dramatic.  No severe brain damage.  Sure, some swelling, probably a whopper of a headache, and she'll walk like a tipsy sailor for a bit, but that's it.

Again, a miracle tossed down on the path.  No questions asked.

So, while I am not above continuing to make some very specific requests of a Higher Power (no, silly, I'm not asking God for a beach house, how crass!), I'm going to invest some time each day scanning the real estate of my life for the everyday miracles that I've already received.  I'm pretty sure that Lynn doesn't have a corner on the miracle market, so join me in seeking out those that have been slipped between the lines of your life too. 

I'm betting that we trip over a miracle or two every single day and just don't notice.  The next time I find enough change in my coat pocket for a parking meter, you're sure to hear me shout out a big old fashioned "Amen, baby!"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Service with a Smile . . . or a Smirk

Where does the concept of being nice to your customers fall in most people's job descriptions?  From the experiences I've had lately, pretty far down.

Here's a simple, yet brilliant, idea for everyone's New Year's Resolution list: Treat your customers with respect and appreciate their presence in your life.  Really.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I was shopping for my son's Christmas program outfit.  He has been growing like crazy the past few months and I realized that he needed a new pair of khaki pants for his Kindergarten debut on stage.  I sauntered in to The Children's Place at RiverTown Mall in Grand Rapids, MI, (no reason not to name names and point fingers!) and looked around at the slim pickings that were available.  I selected a pair of sweat pants and pajamas to purchase and made my way to the cashier. 

She offered me their credit card, which I declined.  Then she requested my e-mail address so that I could be up-to-date on their deals.  I respect this type of offer, heck, I've been in advertising and marketing my entire career, so I get it. 

As I declined again, I decided to share my reason -- I rarely purchase clothes at their store because they offer so little selection for boys.  It seems that if I don't like the "theme" there isn't going to be anything for me to purchase until the new theme is unveiled.  And, I continued, I'm shopping today for my son's Christmas program so the casual tee shirts won't do today.

Instead of thanking me for the input and moving on, the saleswoman informed me, "Well, most of the moms buy their children's Christmas program outfits right after school starts in the fall, so what do you expect to be available now?"


Did she just imply that I'm a lazy mom?

Help me understand how this behavior will ever encourage me to shop at her store again?

Trust me.  I won't.  Ever. Shop there again.

Come on kids, customer service applies to everyone.  Not just people with those words in their title.  Get over yourselves and treat people with respect.  I promise it will pay off.  This is Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing, and Common Sense 101. 

Happy New Year, I say with a big smile as I also note how grateful I am to have your business (aka eyes reading my blog!) today.  Come again, y'all!