Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tom the Post Office Guy

        Tom is in his 50’s, tall and lanky with longish curly hair and a big, bushy mustache.  He strikes me as the sort who may have been a hippie in his youth, or maybe a rock-n-roll musician. 
        Now he works at my local post office, and he has done so for decades.  I first met him about seven years ago, when my job at the time required me to make daily trips to the post office to ship overseas packages and collect the mail from the company P.O. box.
I’d usually have to go to the counter for service, which meant I did a lot of waiting in line.  Waiting in line at the post office isn’t the most exciting thing.  It’s pretty boring, and people tend to get impatient and irritated.
        But somehow, Tom has a way of easing the dullness and tension of waiting in line.
He hails each customer approaching his station with a genuine smile and friendly greeting, often calling them by name. Even after I left that job and hadn’t been to the post office for a couple of years, Tom recognized me and remembered my name.
        He is never in a hurry, never seems to feel pressured to rush, even when there’s a long line.  He focuses on each customer in turn and takes care of them. Yet he doesn’t lollygag or waste time.  Even while engaging in friendly chit-chat, he is busy attending to the task at hand, managing to efficiently take care of business while being pleasantly sociable.
        I particularly noticed this because there was another postal employee at a different post office I frequented who did NOT do this.  He’d usually be the only one working the counter and the line would be out the door, and this guy would sit there chattering away with his current customer…and not doing anything. While we all watched.  And waited.  He seemed oblivious to everyone’s annoyance, and incapable of multitasking.  I swear, there were times at that post office when I thought the people in line were going to go postal.
        But Tom – he’s always moving, taking care of business, meeting your postal needs AND managing to throw in a little affable conversation.  He is always upbeat, relaxed, genuine.
You might think that a guy who’s worked at the post office counter for decades would be bored out of his mind, disgruntled, apathetic…but Tom seems to truly enjoy his job, and he passes that contentment on to the people he deals with.
        It’s a small thing – his greeting of “Hey, Cristy, how ya doin’?” (he’s the only person who calls me Cristy), his efficient handling of our business, and his truly heartfelt “You have a great day, now.”  This standard farewell never sounds like a curt dismissal or automatic response.  He really does hope I have a great day.  I can feel it.
        A small thing – a mere few minutes of interaction…yet an encounter with Tom lifts my spirits, without fail.  I always leave with a smile, any bad mood banished, any stressful burden momentarily lightened.
'Good Karma' by Cristina McAllister*
        Tom has become a hero to me. I picture him as the hub of great web of positive energy rippling outward with each person he helps at that dull post office counter.  Maybe when they leave with a smile, feeling good, they’ll be inspired to pass that attitude on to whoever else they encounter.  I know I am. 
        It’s a small thing, but it can have far-reaching and profound affects. It’s more than just good customer service.  It’s making the world a better place.  I don’t know if Tom realizes he is a Force of Good in the world, but I do.  I really appreciate his small contribution to my life.
        Thank you, Tom.  I hope you have a great day, too, every day. And I mean it.

* 'Good Karma': see THIS POST for more information on this design.

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