Nobody likes long lines. And, few of us will choose to stand in a longer line if a shorter one is available. Thus, Trudy’s story… (That's not her real name.)
While I was principal of a VERY large high school several years ago I observed a most remarkable behavior on the part of our students. Many of them were choosing to stand in longer lines to pay for their lunch. Since the school was so large, we had a mall-type food court with a bank of six checkout registers. During lunch duty each day I noticed that the checkout line at Trudy’s register was always longer than the lines at the other five registers. This made absolutely no sense as all the registers were the same, and students could pay out at any of the registers.
As time went by, and as I got to know Trudy personally, I came to understand this phenomenon. Trudy was very near retirement age, yet her personality and spirit were absolutely vivacious. She laughed and smiled freely. She seemed to know each student by name (in a high school of 2800 !!!). Not only that, but Trudy would fully engage with each student she was ringing up – commenting on their hair, complimenting their shoes, asking about their day, etc.
Trudy, purely and simply, made each student feel like they were the center of the universe.
It’s not that the other cashiers were mean or unpleasant. Trudy simply served as an emotional magnet for students in that very large and impersonal feeling school. What a remarkable testimony to the power of interpersonal connectivity and service-orientation.
Funny thing is, I found myself standing in Trudy’s line more often than not, too.
She knew my name.
She made me feel better, too.
Thanks, Trudy, for teaching an old crusty principal some VERY important lessons about serving others.