Please Say Hello
I love my local Post Office.
We live in a rural community that is fortunate enough to have a Post Office (as well as one gas station, two cafes, two roadside BBQ stands, and a man that carves bears out of tree trunks.) We are even more fortunate that the Post Mistress is one of the friendliest postal workers I have ever met.
When you enter the lobby of the Post Office, attached to the plexiglass germ barrier at the counter is a sign that reads “Please Say Hello”. The Post Mistress is usually working around the corner and this is the way to get her attention. She quickly comes around the corner with a smile and asks how she can help.
I’m thankful for the chance to get someone’s attention with a spoken word and NOT by ringing a bell. The metallic ding of a bell is just so impersonal, presumptuous, and downright passive-aggressive to me. I hate using one.
“Just saying hello” reminds me so much of my father’s veterinary clinic when I was a child. Customers entered directly into a waiting room through on old screen door. Back then the building wasn’t air conditioned so you just hoped a breeze would pass through the screen. One day more than a breeze passed through it--a rock the size of a fifty-cent piece was shot from the lawnmower and became embedded in an interior door. It stayed there (permanently) as a reminder of how close someone came to wearing rock jewelry. The office/library/storeroom/snack center/bookkeeping room was next to the waiting room. No bells were necessary for my mother to pop up from her seat (if she wasn’t already at the door) to welcome customers. I don’t think I ever realized how effortlessly she did her job; she was a natural at recognizing people while they were still in the parking lot, reminding my father who they were if necessary, and then greeting them warmly. My father may have had the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, but my mother was the business. She would have never allowed a bell to ring for service!
Handling customers was not always easy. Sometimes they were demanding. Sometimes they didn’t pay (and she could pull an index card in about 15 seconds to remind my father how much they owed before he extended credit again!) Her mantra was “everyone should have to work for the public” at some point in their life. Doing so would equip them with enough life experiences to teach respect, kindness, humility, and patience for the rest of their lives.
I try to remember those lessons when I’m the customer across the counter from someone doing their job. Sometimes I fail, but for the most part I like to think I’m a ‘good’ customer. I try to thank them and show them that I respect them. It’s always nice to leave them with a smile.
Last time I was in my post office, I told the Post Mistress that she may not see me for a while because I was planning to win that night’s billion dollar lottery. She got a chuckle out of that and I left her with a smile. And knowing how good she is at her job, she’s likely to ask me next time how I came out on that lottery drawing!
Be kind to each other!