It Will Be My Pleasure

“My pleasure.”

 

If you have ever visited a Chick-Fil-A and thanked an employee for something they have done, be it anything from handing you a receipt to carrying your trays of food to the table so you can corral your little ones, you’ve most likely received this as a response. “My pleasure.” Whether it be cleaning up the mess your kids have made, or just handing you a few packets of sauce, it will be the same. “My pleasure.” Maybe you’ve just finished placing your huge order at the drive-thru when you hear it: “It will be my pleasure to serve you at the window.” It’s just a thing they say to be polite, right?

 

I’ll be honest, that’s what I thought at first. Day one on the job, I found myself repeating the same thing I’ve used at jobs in the past. “Not a problem!” Happy, peppy, and most of the time earnest. Then I remembered something my former therapist told me once about acknowledging the thanks and my part in it, so I started to say, “You’re welcome.” Well, I was pulled aside at one point by one of the managers who told me that at CFA, we say “My pleasure.” I just shrugged it off, and then started using that as my reply to being thanked. It took a few days before it started rolling off my lips. I would smile at the thanks, and then utter the words I was instructed to use in reply. Simple, repetitious, polite. Right?

 

As it turns out, it’s not that simple, and it shouldn’t be. So let’s go back a bit.

 

Most of my adult life I have worked in a customer service oriented field. Whether it be food service, retail, or office work, I have always ended up working with the customers of whatever company I was currently employed by. In person or on the phone, I always wore the smile, and for the most part I really tried to listen to the other person, and then formulate my response in kind. As it turns out, I was pretty good at it. I learned how to deduce how people were really feeling first from body language, and then as my customer service switched mostly to over the phone, by tone of voice. I would listen to concerns, laugh with funny stories, share my frustration at delays or misunderstandings. I would always end with, “Not a problem”, or “It’s no problem at all”. I would make sure that my interaction with the customer ended with them at least satisfied, if not happy with the results of our conversation.

 

Day in, day out, it was all about the customers, and I really did not enjoy it. I became one of those people who liked to talk about how great their job would be if it weren’t for customers. Despite how good I was at dealing with people at work, I tried all I could to find other things to do so I would not have to speak to the customers. As if that was not bad enough, I couldn’t seem to find the motivation to do the rest of my job. Somewhere in my mind, I had decided that the customers were just the annoyance I had to deal with to get my paycheck, so who really cared how everything else was handled? 8-5, Monday through Friday, I did the bare minimum to get by. I had that smile on my face when I spoke with the customers, but that would disappear once the phone was down and the rest of my work was staring me in the face. I spent so much time declaring “Not a problem!”, and the rest of the time wallowing in self pity and apathy. As it turns out, there really was a problem, and that problem was me. Myself.

 

I won’t go into everything that I’ve realized over the past few weeks, not to mention over the past few years, but sufficed to say that declaration of “Not a problem” has been my biggest lie. You see, most of what I would do, whether it would be at work, at home, at church, with family, wherever, I would use that line, and then I would begrudgingly do that of which I was asked. Eventually. Maybe. If I got around to it, or if I was asked a few more times, or if someone else started doing it for me and I would feel guilty enough to jump up and try to take over the task. DC Talk said it best in their song “In The Light”. “I am the king of excuses, I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do.” I would always throw out excuses as to why what I was asked to do wasn’t completed. I would blame other people, I would blame tiredness or sickness, I would say that I was planning on doing it later; whatever it would take to push the task back. Well, let me tell you something: those excuses and that selfishness ruined quite a few jobs for me, as well as a few relationships. Yet I still continued the same way, heading down the same path, over and over again. Definition of insanity, right?

 

“My pleasure.”

 

What happens when we actually take pleasure in what we do for other people? What changes in us when the simple things we do for others become more than just a way to get them to be happy with you for a bit? When we begin to truly enjoy serving others, even in the simple little ways, how do our lives change? These are questions I’ve begun to try and answer. It’s a simple philosophy, but one that is amazing in it’s impact.

 

“Chicken is just the vehicle.” That’s something that Chris David, the owner of the Chick-Fil-A in Kent Island where I work told me when we sat down for my final interview. I nodded and smiled, fairly certain I understood what he meant. At that moment, I was just looking for another job, one closer to my new home, and one that I would hopefully enjoy. I did earnestly want to buy into the philosophy and see why everyone working there always looked so happy. As it turns out, it is rather simple.

 

“My pleasure.”

 

It only took a few days of watching the people around me to realize that the joy they all have on their faces is not an act. They truly take pleasure in what they do. Like Chris said, the vehicle we use is chicken, or a milkshake, or carrying a tray for an elderly couple, or helping a young mother with a high chair and a table mat. We use an empty hand to carry out orders for a stressed bagger, or to clean up a spill made by the overwhelmed coworker at the milkshake machine. We use a smile and a happy voice when one of our work family is down or distressed. We encourage each other through every stumble, and celebrate for every step forward. We lend ourselves to each other at every opportunity. We serve, and we truly take pleasure in it.

 

In the book “The Heart of Leadership”, Mark Miller wrote a passage that resonates with me. “The more you serve the more likely you are to develop a think others first mindset. It will change you more than you imagine. It will soften your heart. You will be a better leader and a better person.” I want to not only become a better leader, but a better person. I want to be able to take the simple philosophy of “My Pleasure” home with me, and to my marriage with me, and to church with me, and everywhere that I go. My hope is that my selfishness shrinks and is replaced with a desire to truly serve.

 

I’ve tried getting ahead first by stepping on the people in front of me, and then by letting everyone else go first hoping that I could just follow in their shadows. It never dawned on me that I could actually advance WITH those around me. We support each other, we lift each other up, and we are there for each other. That is how we succeed. We serve each other. Together.

 

It truly is my pleasure to serve.

 

Writing, Or The Lack Thereof – What Do You Title A Personal Crisis?

So I’m stumped. My Muse, which served me so well back in the glory days of FireflyFans.net and all my fanfiction, hasn’t been seen in a good while. She popped back in to give me the ideas I had in my last post, but not since then. On top of that, I’m finding myself reading less and less, and gaming more and more. It drives me crazy that I’m not picking up a new book every week and anxiously diving into worlds full of mystery, adventure, passion and more. Instead I’m hitting the same four buttons on my keyboard in an anxious attempt to level up so I can hit the same four buttons against slightly tougher enemies.

Why am I doing this to myself? Have I really lost the desire to immerse myself in these worlds? Did my imagination shrivel? What’s going on with me that I’d rather bury myself in the mundane?

Don’t get me wrong. I still love to play the game, but am I burying myself in it for the right reasons? I’ve been going through a lot lately. Personally, work related, family, everything. Am I trying to use this as a way of blocking everything out? I don’t know, but it’s driving me crazy.

I’ve looked for writing workshops around here in Maryland, but all I can find are Community College courses more geared to preparing one for Universities than enabling them to use their imagination to create things of wonder and beauty. Dale, I’m so jealous of this group of people you’ve found to bounce off of. I know I have a few friends who would love to see me write more, and would love to read and review anything I manage to put from pen to page. I need something here, though. A reason to do this, to write, to create.

When my grandmother passed away in July, it spurred fifteen minutes of creativity, and out of my soul poured a song, a chronicle of her life of love, from pen to paper, to guitar and voice. I sang it at her funeral, and it still plays in my head with great frequency. I look at her picture on my desk every day, hoping it spurs something else, but nothing arises. I look at my pride and joy of my imagination, the character “Soul” and nothing. I look at the brilliant idea I had teased at in my prior post, and nothing. It’s like the desire is gone.

I’ve had friends come and go. Fireflyfans.net was my outlet for a very long time, almost like “Cheers” where everybody knew my name, and they were happy to see me. The stories flowed, almost without me trying. The comments and suggestions only fed fuel to the fire and made me want to write more, to improve. That all slowly trickled dry. People wandered away, left to continue their lives elsewhere while I stayed, hanging onto hope that one day everyone would miraculously return and everything would be like it was. Instead, it all changed, and I stayed the same, hanging onto a past that was just that, the past.

So here I am. Call it a crisis, call it dramatic, call it a pathetic attempt to gain sympathy, call it whatever you will. I’ve become a robot, just living, not enjoying. I simply exist in this world, and instead of leaving my mark I’m fading away. It’s almost as if I can’t breathe. I don’t know how to move forward, I don’t know how to deal with change, even though so much of my life around me has become something I no longer recognize.

I NEED TO WRITE. I think, somewhere along the way, I forgot how…

Where Is My Muse?!?!?

I’m telling you, she helps me come up with ideas a plenty, but when it comes to actually sitting down and writing them out, she vanishes. Anyone know a good way to anchor her down?

In other news, I’ve come up with a relatively unique idea. I’m going to have to play around with it a while to see if it’s viable, as well as look into some legal issues involving the story context. If it all works out, though…I think I might actually be on to something here…