Customer Service coaching moments

Bad days have a ripple effect in our world in uncountable ways. But good days can sometimes provide significant counterweight. The tension between those opposing viewpoints is as old as humanity and maybe that’s why the world is an interesting place. Can you imagine a world where everyone was having a good day? How would you know?

I’ll describe what I would imagine is someone who was having a bad day. Mamie (read my other posts to find out who she is) needed to head to a part of Toronto that required her to take a different transit line than she is familiar with. I have to tell you first of all that Toronto is undergoing a construction frenzy of biblical proportions, and taking as long a time as the pyramids to complete. So, our major hub of transit, Union Station (finished renovation project depicted below) is in the midst of chaos, teeming with commuters from every mode of transportation converging in a single place amid debris, hoarding, and closures.

She saw a sign saying that the streetcar line she expected to use was out of service due to construction and so she approached a uniformed transit employee for guidance.

She asked him how she could get to Spadina Avenue if the underground streetcar line was shut for construction, to which he replied, “Bay Street.” Toronto is the third largest city in all of North America and Mamie was standing in the heart of it. To her, “Bay Street” was like saying “Get Lost”.  She was not impressed.

She stood up to Mr. Grumpy and asked him again for more clarity to which he replied by silently pointing to a stairwell to the street.  Mamie is not one to back down and she cornered Mr Bad Day and said, “What I want to know is this. What’s the location of the stop and the vehicle number? Can you tell me?”  Here’s what he said, “Do you know how many times I get asked that question every single day?”

Here comes the coaching moment that Mamie so thoughtfully provided to this poor soul at that moment. “Then why are you doing this job if you don’t like it?” She turned on her heels and walked away.

My hope is he then took a breath, took a break, and went home at the end of the day in a better mood, maybe he resolved to take control of what he may normally feel are daily situations that are out of his control.


Some Brain, Some Ego

World changing brilliance mixed with genuine humility. Can any of us name a single person alive who does that?  To be clear, I’m talking about a combination of gifts and personal behavior that results in an appearance to the public at large as being balanced. Steve Jobs was brilliant, in my view, but everything you read about him drives you far away from concluding he had a discernible measure of humility. Forget sports figures. Forget virtually every movie and television personality you can think of. Politicians? Maybe but I can’t spot one anywhere in my extensive reading of domestic and international affairs.

Is it gone, that ability to balance? Or even the ability to be naturally humble? In awe of life? This struck me last week when I read an article that Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity was recently put to the test. The man died 58 years ago. Scientists are still trying to figure him out. There’s no arguing his impact on life here on Earth and also in the Universe. Read the last line of the article and you’ll know why I asked that question in the first line of this post. An instrument of life, of all that exists and existed. That’s humility. We can always learn something by examining the way people who were here long before us thought and behaved.