There’s a CVS near my apartment, and without fail I’m in there at least once a week buying eyeliner or hand soap or something. For those of you that haven’t been, CVS is like a Walgreens. It’s like a mini-grocery-store crossed with a convenience store. It’s nothing fancy, and certainly not a place you expect great service, or even service at all.
This is why Sam* at CVS stands out to me so much.
When I go to do self-checkout, there’s always someone supervising the lines. Most times I go in there, it’s a middle-aged man named Sam. Sam is a superstar. At a place where you don’t expect service, he greets every customer that checks out with a smile. He asks everyone if they found everything alright, and if you don’t have a CVS ExtraCare Card, he gives you one to scan so that you can get the free coupons that print out with your receipt. He’s always friendly and happy to be there.
Seeing Sam once a week has reminded me of a crucial thing that is so easy to forget: No matter how small a role we play, we always play a role.
I found this to be especially true this summer when I worked as a cashier at Ulta. I loved my job, but some days I wasn’t feeling it. I’d go in with the mentality of “let’s just get through this,” but quickly change my tune when I realized how important even my role was to people’s shopping experiences. It was amazing how excited people would get when I threw a free gift in their bag, or how much happier they looked after I had gushed over their makeup choices with them. I wasn’t doing anything notable. I wasn’t giving them a million dollars. But that little bit seemed to affect them more than I’d expected.
This all reminds me of a video we watched in my management class here at Penn, that I’m going to share with you now. Candice Billups is a custodian in an oncology wing at a hospital, but she considers her job to be much more than that. Seriously, take some time and watch this video. I got emotional.
It is easy for us to become complacent and only put in 50% when we feel like we don’t matter. It’s easy to say “I’m only a waitress,” “I’m only a team member,” “I’m only the backup singer.” It’s easy to lose ourselves in the big picture and to convince ourselves that we are really only this tiny part of something big.
No matter how small we feel, like I sometimes feel going to a ginormous university, our interactions with other people matter. We matter every single day, every time we interact with another human being. We have the power to make someone’s day.
I challenge you this week to find three occasions where you can make someone’s day in a very small way. Say hi to the security guard at your apartment. Help an old lady carry her bags at the supermarket. Complement your waitress on her earrings.
In what small ways do you embrace your roles (student, employee, etc)? Report back to me.