Choosing to be nice

I utilised my time wisely while I was in the Navy, and earned both my BS and MA degrees in my spare time while serving on active duty. It was never my career goal to retire from the Navy and wind up frying chicken and making subs in a supermarket deli...

After a five-year stint as a human resource manager, the market dried up for experienced HR professionals, so I tried a back door approach to stay in human resources. I took a menial position in a supermarket deli frying chicken and making submarine sandwiches hoping to transfer to the corporate HR Department. Mentally, I never resigned myself to being a minimum wage employee. This was just an avenue to get a transfer into my dream position.

Because I approached my job with a different mind set, I was a “breath of fresh air” in the deli. Abraham Maslow would call this Self-Actualisation; the joy is not in the compensation, but in performing the job itself. Every day, I practiced two personal philosophies, “Treat every customer like they are your next employer,” and, “Treat every customer like family and treat every employee like customers.”

In two years time, regretfully, the store didn’t realise the gem they had, and I decided to move on. My two-year experience taught me several things. I learned being nice is a choice, and why not choose to be nice? My working conditions were not enviable, but I went

out of my way to be the bright spot in my customer’s day. I knew many by first names and many shopped at our deli exclusively because they enjoyed being treated as special.

Not only did being nice make my shift enjoyable and rewarding, but also I could see in the faces of my customers, that niceness equates to the intangible joy experienced when one receives a beautiful bouquet of flowers for no special reason from a loved one or a friend.

A world without niceness makes for a sea of disgruntled customers and a very dismal planet. Spread cheers over sneers! — Walter Bovay