"Man Working Here!"


Posted on December 2, 2008 by Blake Leath

This past week I was in Savannah, GA.

While eating at The Gryphon Tea Room, I observed an interesting exchange between a waiter and a hostess. The hostess asked the waiter, "Would you please serve the table against the window?" To which the waiter replied exceedingly ironically, "Sure. I have nothing else to do right now. Are YOU working today?"


And then, a day later, as I waddled through the security checkpoint at the quaint Savannah "International" Airport, I witnessed a very 'put out' TSA agent harumph behind the x-ray machine (carrying more than his fair share of 'curious items') shouting, "Man Working Here! Step aside, step aside!" He was bellowing, not at me mind you, but at his co-workers.

I found it interesting that within a twenty-four hour timespan, I had witnessed two very put-out employees 'harumphing' about their colleagues!

You know, times are tough. I get that. We all get that. We are that.

But I'm ceaselessly flabbergasted when employees vent and harumph in front of customers. The very, ahem, customers they are meant to be serving.

I remember, several years ago, working with an airline to help it restore its reputation. (Long story short: the airline remains its own worst enemy.) As my colleagues and I flew dozens and dozens of trips to ride jumpseat and observe Flight Attendants in the air, we were literally dumbfounded by the negative, disruptive chatter that consumed them and which was all overheard by paying customers within earshot. When we reported our findings, the airline acted somewhat SURPRISED. Surprised? Are you kidding me? Who's not paying attention here?

As leaders and co-workers, let's remember the Golden Rule of Customer Service: "Keep your miseries to yourself."

Customers are paying for a service, not for the sidebars that distract and diminish what could otherwise be an acceptable or stellar experience.  


p.s. If you are ever in Savannah, be sure to visit The Gryphon Tea Room. Despite my dismay at the single blip I described above, the food is phenomenal and the experience is worth the wait.