I always wonder what makes people turn out the way they do. Maybe others wonder that about me too. Is it our upbringing or is it society and its influences? nature or nurture? This week I had two very different experiences in similar situations, and again, I wondered what made the difference. Both experiences involved Hispanic young men. I mention this fact only because both places of business count on a high volume of Spanish-speaking clientele. But the incidents could have occurred with any race or gender.
When our big bank closed in our small town, I decided to open a small account inside Wal Mart for “convenience.” One service offered was a free notary for account-holders. I went to have a letter notarized but was told the notary was at lunch. I had shopping to do so came back by on my way out. This time I was told they did not notarize during weekend hours. I reminded the teller that it was Friday, a weekday. She nervously looked back at the glass office behind her and said the notary forgot the stamp.
The next day I decided I did not need the convenience of this bank and asked to close out my account. The manager zoomed out to me from the glass doors and told me I should keep it open since it had no fees. I said no, and also I wanted to move the small CD I had there. The manager used a very intimidating voice to tell me that I would have to pay a penalty. I asked how much, and he said they would not know until they made the request. I told him to make the request, that I was withdrawing. He came back in less than a minute and had the teller tell me the penalty was twenty-five cents. I imagine the penalty he was more worried about was for the loss of two accounts.
I’m not sure what was going on at this bank, but customer service was not a top priority. Commissions on number of accounts seemed the main thing. But I would have kept two accounts there if I had also had good service.
Next, I went to an auto parts store. A manager about the same age as the bank manager waited on me. Mine was a complicated request because I know nothing about cars, the parts I needed were for a car in Juarez, Mexico, and I only knew the names for those parts in Spanish. I did not know the English word for the parts or what the parts did to explain them. Luckily, this manager was second generation Hispanic. He knew most basic parts in Spanish but not these. He called his father and talked at length with him to make sure we were ordering the right thing. When I came back the next day to pick them up, he had ordered two models of one part to be sure I had the right sized part for the trip. He said I could return the one we didn’t use when I came home.
Again, I do not know the training or philosophy of this particular chain of parts store. But, I believe that this manager would have treated me this way no matter what store training he had undergone.
Both managers also oversee young employees. Both are teaching through their actions. But their lessons are miles apart in content. One has a narrow focus on profits. Another has the customer in mind first, knowing that profits will follow. I hope the bank manager realizes that his training program was not in his best interest. He may go far in the banking business, but at what cost? And who has fallen under his influence? I believe the auto parts manager will go far in life. I know he is a good example for his young employees.
We never know who is watching our actions. I don’t know what made the difference in the two men, but I’m guessing the dad. Character counts, and it begins at home. Let’s all work on Proverbs 11:17, “When you are kind to others, you help yourself; when you are cruel to others, you hurt yourself,” and verse 25, “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” Let us love one another in all situations.