When you first start at McDonald’s, they often put you on clean up duty so by the time you get to the cash register, you’ve worked most positions and have learned to hustle. I hustled. I thought I was doing well until I got to my first work review.
“You need to be more bubbly.”
I mouthed the words silently. “Bubbly?”
My middle-aged, dumpy manager nodded. “Like Jane.”
Oh, I thought, thinking of the tall, model good-looking airhead that couldn’t stop talking. She’s bubbly? I simply nodded, swallowing the lump in my throat. I knew I was sort of an automaton, just going through the motions.
“Okay.” And I smiled on demand although I could feel tears in my eyes because he’d hurt my feelings. I wasn’t bubbly and quite sure I never aspired to be bubbly and not really sure I wanted to be bubbly. But since he had taken the time to give me what he thought was good advice, I took it to heart.
“You act more bubbly, we’ll see if we can get you a few more hours.”
Ah, now that was motivation. Two hour shifts four times a week didn’t add up to much more than annoyance. Lucky for me, I had a better role model in the form of Doug. Doug sang the McDonald’s song. He goosed the girls when he passed them at a run. He was odd. But smiled. And made sure he had a good time every shift he worked.
So I started to pay attention to customers, making sure that they got exactly what they wanted. Remembering when they were repeat customers. Smiling and asking them how they were doing or if their day had gone well. I got more hours.
But I never got bubbly and for reason.
One day Ms. Bubbly worked next to me on a super busy day when we were mobbed with customers. I noticed on regular customer who always ordered his hamburger plain and put the order in early so he wouldn’t have to wait. By the time this customer reached my register, I rushed to pick up the special order, but Ms. Bubbly snatched it out of my hands and gave it to her customer.
No problem. I just sent the order in again, the customer never even knew it was missing. But about fifteen minutes later, this huge football player guy comes in and smashes down a sack of food and a large drink, splashing it over Ms. Bubbly who looked horrified to have her makeup messed up. This customer yelled, “Bad enough to wait ten minutes for my food, but then I get it and it has no cheese or ketchup or anything else.”
Ms. Bubbly disappeared. So I calmly returned the customer his money, giving him a free replacement meal and he grumpily left with a smile coming back to his face. Perhaps it was because I was smiling ever so nicely because I had learned that giving the customer what he wants is more important than being bubbly. And having a good time at work makes everyone have a better experience.
By: Sheri Fresonke Harper