We Work and Often Forget the Reason for the Work

February 26, 2020 –

This morning, I experienced an employee so focused on doing his job; he missed the reason for his job—satisfying customers.

I went to a grocery store to purchase cream cheese. Because I seldom grocery shop, my wife gave me the in-store location for finding the product: “It’s on the left wall of the store in the dairy section.” The dairy section proved to have more than cream cheese. I found milk, orange juice, butter, eggs, and yogurt, but no cream cheese.

I spotted a store employee bending over the produce case fronting and replacing cheese. I saw hope and move beside him. “Hi, I’m Wayne, where is the cream cheese?” Without looking to his left to see me and remaining bent over, he continued to restock. He grunted and said, “Down there.” That was it. Hmm, I got the message. I was an interruption of his morning and a hindrance to him getting his job done.

Following the directions, I went “down there,” found my cream cheese, and moved to the checkout counter. As I glanced back, the employee was still bent over, stocking produce—doing his job. He never understood helping me was his job.

Andrew Carnegie was once asked the reason so many people fail in life. He said, “There are two types of people who never achieve very much in their lifetimes. One is the person, who won’t do what he or she is told to do, and the other is the person who does no more that he or she is told to do.”

Maybe I’m the only one who believes small acts can make a big difference. A little extra thought, attention, and effort may not change the world, but that extra can make people feel extraordinary.