Better service when you serve the server.

After I made the basketball team in seventh grade, I found out my teammates and I had to “dress” for all road games. You know, a better representation when you’re visiting a town. That meant we had to wear a tie or a “nice” sweater and slacks, no jeans.

Over 44 years later, some middle school and high school teams still do it, the problem was and is that these boys rarely know how to “dress” to impress or to make a proper knot in a tie or know the proper length. Heck, even a lot of my male friends don’t know how long their tie should be. The coaches are telling players to do something the player, and often the coach does not know how to do.

My dad was WWII and Korean War veteran. He knew how to make a knot in a tie and he knew the end of the tie was supposed to “break at the belt buckle.” So in those days, when my teammates and I had to dress, I knew how to dress.

I got my first job when I was in high school. I worked at the strip mall in Belding as custodian/security. It meant keeping the main areas clean and asking loiterers to move on. Being good at it meant that I had to be good at service. I knew all the store owners and employees and was good at “asking” loiterers, many were high school classmates, to move on because their time was up. If there were a snowstorm, I’d let them linger a bit longer. But I knew “service.” I knew how to be energetic while getting things for store owners and helping direct shoppers. I knew that my work was a representation of the mall and I felt it was a reflection of me, in a healthy way.

Outdo one another in showing honor.” ~ Romans 12:10

How did I learn “service?” I’m not exactly sure. I do know that while growing up I wanted to serve my parents. It was a choice. At eight years old I liked to help my mom clean and help my dad mow the lawn. Even in high school, I would clean their car, help put up weather stripping, rake the lawn, help out at laundry mat (mom would buy me a Moon Pie from the vending machine). She and I liked doing dishes together. She preferred washing, I’d dry and put away. Helping, serving, my parents came naturally. They didn’t have to ask, I knew to pitch in and recognized when something needed to be done. Regarding service, a lot of people are being told to give good service from people who don’t know how to do it. Just like my coaches wanted us to “dress” but they nor we knew how to.

Mom, at 88 years old in rehab recovering nicely from a recent fall. She preferred to wash while I dried.

When you are spending money on entertainment or having groceries delivered to your home, or sign your child up for little league, or getting your car repaired, you expect satisfactory service. You’re expecting others to “know” service. You’re expecting them to know how to tie a knot in their tie and dress well to travel and you’re expecting them to know how to keep the mall clean and kick out dawdlers. Yet, they’ve never been trained. They’ve not had consistent training and evaluation and years of practice.  It’s not in even their personality makeup.

If you want to feel your best and get better service, give servers a break. They don’t know how to “choose” service. So it’s up to you to choose.

“…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Good service means the person delivering it understands that they don’t know you. They understand that they don’t know you, your story, your current or past circumstances or how your day is going. They understand that there are simple manners they can exhibit to deliver good service. You know them: warm greetings, friendly smiles, intent to listen carefully, be helpful. You’ll know right away if the server understands. If you don’t, you don’t know service yourself. You’ll receive more good service, and feel better about yourself if you use the same manners. Include understanding that you don’t know them, their story or the kind of day they’re having.

“Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” ~Galations 5:13

Every day we should be choosing to deliver good service. We should exhibit the traits of good service. You know them: warm greetings, friendly smiles, intent to listen carefully, be helpful. Imagine if the person who is being paid to give good service were being greeted by a person trying to give good service. “But I’m an introvert.” That’s okay. So is the person delivering the service and they’re giving it a try.

Choose to serve today. When the delivery arrives, when you buy a sandwich, when you’ve been standing in line, when your blood is being drawn, when you’re at parent/teacher conferences, when you’re getting the oil changed in your car, when you’re buying coffee, when your children are knocking on a strangers door at Halloween, choose to serve. Serve the server, you’ll receive better service and feel better about yourself.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” 


2 thoughts on “Better service when you serve the server.

  1. Great article, Steve. When it comes to service, one of the first things that comes to my mind is the Golden Rule. Follow it, and it’ll make life a lot easier and more enjoyable…for both the server and those being served.


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