The Holiday Season can bring out the best in people—and the worst.
Amidst all of the greetings and well-wishes are the voices of the scrooges and the rude—and they’re usually the loudest ones. Nowhere is the more true and evident than in the world of retail. In the maddening rush to cheap prices and super-sized deals, manners—and simple acts of human kindness—are often casualties during the shopping wars now being fought.
It’s a pleasant but increasingly rare sight these days to see a sincere and helpful clerk on the budget battlefield. I’m glad to say that one such person works in my neighborhood and is not only smiling and helpful during these hectic holidays—she’s the same genuine and pleasant person all year round.
Julia George works at the Walgreen’s in Ridgeland, Mississippi, not far from where I live in North Jackson. For about four years now, this particular Walgreen’s location (on Old Canton Road for you local readers) has been a favorite of my girls. Call it our “comfort store.” A big reason for that is because of the sincere kindness of Ms. Julia.
If you’re the kind of parent I am being nice to my children is being nice to ME. The fact that Ms. Julia, even before we knew her first name, always took the time to stop whatever she was doing and talk to Katie and Dagny and ask how we all were doing meant the world to this father. It was more than the scripted small talk you get from some retail associates—nice but obviously faked; you could tell Ms. Julia really took an interest in us, not only as customers of Walgreen’s, but as people. It was apparent—and appreciated.
I assume Ms. Julia is a good employee of our favorite store. I don’t know how many sales she makes, if she says “Be Well” as many times as Walgreen’s employees are supposed to do or if she met any quotas for the month or year. It doesn’t really matter to me and my girls.
What does matter is that every single time we come into the store and spot her behind the counter she looks up to speak, smile and wave. Even in this hectic and harried time of year, Ms. Julia stops to talk, or give a hug, or help us find what we’re looking for. That’s real customer service. And that’s also real good business.
People like Ms. Julia are hard to find these days. We’re all so stressed out and hung up on our oh-so-important lives and problems—especially right now. But let’s face it: after the stores are all closed, the money’s all spent and the lights go out for the night, what is it really all about? Perhaps the secret is as simple as remembering the kindness of a fellow human being.
Merry Christmas, Ms. Julia!
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