May I Help You?

Part of what we need to do as mud slingers is to be sure that courtesy is a part of the experience our members enjoy each time we meet.  We need to be sure that they see coming from us guinuine courtesy, not flattery.  What does courtesy do that no amount of flattery can do?  And what is the difference between courtesy and flattery? 

As I work my way through MK Turner’s book about the demise of K-Mart entitled K-Mart’s 10 Deadly Sins, I’ve been reminded of the last time I deliberately went into my local K-Mart store.  This memory amplifies to me the importance of feeling the graciousness of the Lord and common courtesy when we venture into an a new or familiar setting.  I had gone to K-Mart to purchase an item I couldn’t get at Wal-Mart.

For camp, I needed to purchase two heavy electric scooters that came in two large boxes.  I’m pretty strong but they weighed more than 50 pounds and I couldn’t lift them into the carts.  A male employee passed by me.  “Can you help me lift this into my cart?” I asked. 

Without looking at me, he said curtly,  “No.  That isn’t my job.  I’ll send someone to do it for you.”  I think I detected a faint smile.

I waited for 15 minutes.  The man came by me again two more times.  Each time I asked him about the person who would help me put the $500 worth of merchandise into my cart.  His smile became a smirk and stare the second time he passed me.  He ignored me the third time as he ambled casually past me and my waiting cart. 

Because I really wanted those scooters, I manhandled them onto my cart.  Then I remembered I also needed a baby crib mattress.  I located the baby section easy enough but I couldn’t find the price on the mattress I wanted.  A salesperson was on the other side of the counter.  “Can you help me find the price to this mattress, please.”

“No,” she said, “I’m busy.  The price is right on the box.  Find it yourself.”

I went back to the mattress and still couldn’t find the price.  Again, I approached the salesperson.  “I’m sorry but I’ve looked and I can’t find the price.  I need you to come and help me.”

The woman snarled and breathed heavy.  We rounded the corner and she began to look for the price.  She couldn’t find it.  “There is no price on this mattress,” she said and walked off. 

“Can you help me find a price?”  I went back to her and asked. 

“I am really busy but I guess if you insist, I’ll do it.”

“Yes,”  I said with an impatient edge to my voice.  “I insist.”

The woman found the price and again walked off.  I approached her, “Can you help me lift the mattress into my cart?”

“No,” she said.

“Can you find someone who can help me?”  I asked.

“No.  I told you I’m busy.”

After attempting to put the mattress on my already full cart.  I suddenly realized that if I were in Wal-Mart only a couple of blocks away, there would be people falling all over me to help me with my purchases. 

I left the store and never went back.  Within a year, K-Mart had declared bankruptcy and closed my neighborhood store.

Courtesy has always been the hallmark of the Wal-Mart experience for me.  A survey proved that the K-Mart employee interaction with customers was less than 30 seconds a day.  It has been determined that Wal-Mart employees interaction is drastically higher or they don’t remain employees. 

This example was set by Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart.  He would casually enter any one of his stores and talk with the customers, gathering facts and information about the local Wal-Mart.  Walton would interact with the salespersons, asking questions and inquiring.

It was well known by the employees that any unassuming male customer could be Walton.  They were kept on their toes by this knowledge.  People appreciated the courtesy and returned because of the gracious treatment they received.

What does that have to do with Special Gathering and other ministries within the mentally challenged community?  Everything. 

God is a gracious and loving father.  He is with us every moment.  The Lord is at your program each week, watching, taking notes.  In fact, Jesus said, “What you do to the least of these, you have done to me.”  How courteous is the teatment of my members?  Are they ignored when they tell me the same story for the 1,500th time?  Are they shooed away when their needs don’t come to the level of my expertise? 

I have to admit some of this makes me say, “Ouch.”  Our Savior walks among us each time we meet.  Are the needs of your members seen as His needs?  Or do I dismiss them as “not my job.”