Monday, March 31, 2014

Making a difference...

This has nothing to do with sex. But I need to rant somewhere, and by the little page views I get, unless I'm pimping out Sommer or Alison, this seems the safest place. This is about being positive, sort of.

These days, whenever anyone gets lousy customer service, the first instinct is to complain. After all, how can the company improve if they don't know where they're going wrong, right? And there's always the chance that the complainer will get something for free - which, let's be honest, is the main goal in today's society. But there's also the chance that someone could lose their job over that complaint. We're all human, we have bad days.

But it is a rare occasion to be sure, that someone sends management a letter, or makes a phone call, with a compliment if something is done right. If you're in a store and a clerk goes out of their way to find something in the back for you, or if you're in a restaurant and your server makes absolutely certain that there's no onions in your dish, because of an allergy or an aversion, or if they give your kids extra chocolate sauce on their sundae, their management should know about it.

Or when you bring your children to an event, and the usher points out something that the kids would love, and might otherwise miss with everything else going on.

Those people need to be commended. Yes, it's their job, but it's the attention to detail, it's the way they do their job, that needs to be known. Their supervisors, the venue - they need to know that these people aren't just phoning it in. It could actually make the difference in them keeping their jobs at contract renewal time. Not everyone is unionized. Third party contractors, such as those at a hockey arena, rely on contracts. And while it's most always a money issue, sometimes if the venue management knows what a great job their ushers, security, or food and beverage cashiers are doing, they might just re-consider the money.

This is currently happening to me. One of my other jobs, in my "non-writing" life is that of a security guard. And we work at one of the city's hockey venues. I've been there for ten years. So have two of my supervisors and a lot of our guards and ushers have been there three years or longer. We are not paid amazing money, by any stretch of today's standards. But we don't do it for the money. We do it for the fans. For the building. For the friends that we have chosen as family.

The building owners preach the importance of teamwork, and tell us that the whole building is one big family. That our fans are a part of that and we have to give them a family experience. But my company is third party. In this "family" we're the fifth-cousin-on-Aunt-Cindy's-husbands-side-twice-removed. In other words, we're not a consideration. But we are the only ones who will not throw each other under the bus to get ahead. We are the only department in that venue that has each other's backs - and everyone else's. There isn't one department that we don't help out. We cover up and deal with mistakes from every department, from sales to game crew to food and beverage. And yet, when there's a screw up, security is the first department to get thrown under that bus. Whether we're implementing building protocol and following their rules, it doesn't matter. As soon as there's a complaint, it's automatically shoved on us.

And we take it with a smile. We put up with abuse and accusations, and we have no champion on the corporate side. But for eight years under the current owners, we've persevered. We've worked ourselves to death every November for ten days straight to pull off the annual event there without a hitch.

We go above and beyond for our fans, not for recognition, but because it's what we love to do. The season ticket holders are considered family. We do so much more for them because we love to see them smile. Even if people are only there for one game, it is our mission to make sure they get the most possible enjoyment out of it. Whether it's showing the kids the best spot to stand to get high fives from the players, or bringing a kid across to sit on the zamboni so his dad can get a picture of it, to see the smiles on their faces is such a joy. And it's not like it's in our job description to do it either.

And when sales crams us with double the maximum amount of kids for our fans tunnels (despite knowing what the max IS), so much so that it becomes a safety issue, we smile and deal. When they double book a zamboni ride and don't tell us, we smile and deal. When they misdirect the post-game rental to one side of the arena instead of the other, we smile and deal.

Because we love our jobs. We love the building. For some of us, the start of hockey season means coming home.

Now, at the end of the month, we're losing our home. Another company is coming in. And I know that this is the type of things that happen. But if just one person per game in the last eight years had sent head office a complement, a little note saying "So and so, our usher, made the game amazing for us." Or "So and so in security made us feel right at home by doing this...", maybe we wouldn't be losing it.

Now, we don't have another contract where our ushers can work at, so chances are we won't be seeing them again. One of my supervisors, who has been like a second dad to me, this was the only building he ran, so I doubt we'll be seeing him. And with the rest of us scattered across the city, the odds of us seeing each other with such frequency as we do now, are a thousand to one.

And the fans that we work with? We can kiss that part of the family good-bye. I've been crying over this for a month now. And as the days tick down to our final event, my heart breaks every time I walk into that building. I know all good things must come to an end, but we've put our hearts and souls into that building, where the rest of the departments just do it for a paycheck.

So the next time someone goes above and beyond to make your experience, whether it's eating, shopping, or at an event, a better one, do them a favor. Acknowledge it with their management. Let them know what an awesome job that person did.

You'll never know the difference it will make.

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