Some thing very interesting happened to me today that I just HAD to share. I was mailing books and product orders at the Post Office in my neighborhood. As soon as I stepped in the door I noticed trash all over the floor. I chalked it up to the 50 mph wind gusts we had today and figured the wind had blown the trash onto the floor.
While the customer service employee weighed my 14 packages of books, a gift basket and the book I was shipping to Queensland, Australia, it occurred to me that even with the wind gusts, it was strange to see so much trash on the floor.
I looked around and noticed that the trash can was overflowing with more than two feet of trash. I thought about not saying anything for a moment, but that is just not me.
I casually said, “I don’t know if you all are aware of it, but there is trash all over the floor on this side of the counter.” I assumed that they must not have been able to see the trash because I couldn’t fathom them actually knowing about the trash but not doing anything about it.
Two of the employees behind the counter said in tandem, “We know. Our janitor quit.” One continued,” And they haven’t sent anyone over to replace him. The trash has even begun to smell. And it’s even worse in the back. You should just complain.”
I just stood there shocked.
She continued, “We have complained and complained, but they haven’t sent anyone to replace him. It has been like that for about two months.”
What!? I stood there in amazement knowing that even though their janitor quit weeks ago, none of the employees would take out the trash. I calmly remarked, “And with you all being employees, you haven’t taken out the trash?” Then one of the employees said, “Oh no! It’s not our job! If we do that, then they will expect us to keep doing it.” I stood there in disbelief.
I replied, “I will be happy to call and give some feedback, but in the meantime, this just can’t stay this way.”
I thought about everything that was on my To Do list and considered leaving. But, that’s just not me, either. I firmly but lovingly said, “This is NOT okay. This just isn’t acceptable on any level. This is my neighborhood and this trash is a reflection of me. If someone came into this Post Office, they would think that this neighborhood is okay with having trash all over the floor. If you all won’t take out the trash, I will.”
They stood there flabbergasted.
While their mouths were on the floor, I asked them to get me a garbage bag from the back and I proceeded to pick up every piece of trash that was on the ground in that post office lobby. I then removed the overflowing trash from the trash can and asked where their dumpster was located. Shocked (and hopefully a bit embarrassed), they just pointed and said that it was just outside the building around the back.
I was surprised to see just how close the dumpster was to the building. I threw the trash bag in the dumpster and went on with my day.
I did call the number they gave me “to complain” and the man said that someone had just called and told him about the trash situation. He said it was the first time he was hearing of it (which I found interesting because the employees said they had been complaining for weeks and that they had even taken pictures and sent them to someone to do something about it) and he had just dispatched a custodian to the site to clean it up for them. He profusely apologized that it was allowed to get so bad that a customer had to clean it up.
There was much to learn from this experience.
My first thought was that I hope I NEVER get employees that apathetic.
But the biggest lesson from today is to know that operating at a level of excellence and going above and beyond your job description is a sign of a true entrepreneur. It will take some late nights or early mornings while everyone else is sound asleep. It will take sacrifice while your friends may be out at happy hour after work. It will take wearing many hats until you can afford to hire your team. And it may sometimes include taking out the trash.
In order to make your business a success you will have to operate in a spirit of excellence. Remember, you are not just representing your business, you are representing Jesus in all you do.
Dedicated to Your Success,