Employee of the Month

As you may know from earlier posts, I sometimes go to El Pollo Loco for lunch. It’s surprisingly good and if you don’t eat the tortillas, it’s pretty healthy (I get the 3 piece combo with pinto beans and fresh vegetables).

Anyway, I don’t go every day. At most I go twice a month. But I always get the same thing. (I usually settle on a go-to order at most places and just stick with it forever.) Well, this one woman taking orders, Laura, not only recognized me, but she recited my order perfectly.

“Three-piece combo, dark meat, pinto beans, and veggies, no tortillas.”

I was stunned. I was like, “How did you remember that?”

She said I always ordered the same thing.

I was like, “Yeah, but how many other people also come in here every day?”

She just laughed like it was no big deal to remember customers’ orders but I was seriously impressed.

So much so that while I was waiting for the food I asked to speak to the manager. It was a short Hispanic lady and I told her that I was very happy with Laura’s service. I told her how welcome she made me felt and that employees like her build customer loyalty. The manager thanked me for my comments. I definitely got the sense that paying her employee a compliment was a rare occurrence. My food came out and I sat down to eat. Laura wasn’t privy to my conversation with her manager, but after lunch, I made sure to say “Have a nice day” to her on the way out.

On the way back to the office I was feeling good, wondering if this would help her get a promotion or something. But then I started to doubt my feelings, like I was patting myself on the back a little too hard. Something one of the commenters said last month about how the whole blog is a series of self-congratulatory stories where I portray myself as an amazing person because I deemed to talk to some lowly cleaning lady, or something like that. I honestly felt good about saying something nice to the manager because I thought Laura deserved some recognition. But then I felt guilty about how good I felt, like I was being patronizing. I’m not sure how else to explain it. I know I was over-thinking it. But  this moment of existential doubt did in fact sour my mood.

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9 thoughts on “Employee of the Month”

  1. It’s good to be wary of being TOO self-congratulatory, but by all means, you should feel good about yourself. That’s kind of supposed to be the point of being a good person and doing community service and good deeds and the like– because it makes YOU feel good too. Remember that (most) of us see this blog as an inspiring place where a lone, average guy goes out and does little things that fascinate us and propel us to reconsider our own solitude. My most common reaction in your talk-to-strangers events is ‘what a kind/thoughtful/daring thing to do.’ And that kind of reaction, especially knowing it has a positive effect on your life as well, I think is what propels us to do more kind/thoughtful/daring things.

    In other words, regardless of how you feel of your good deeds, remember that they are still good deeds. We all appreciate it, and I’m sure Laura does too 🙂

  2. The fact that you’re even contemplating this means your intentions are good. My advise? Just shrug off the negative comments you receive. There will always be someone trying to bring you down to their level of unhappiness.

    Posting a story about how you took the time to speak to someone’s manager to commend a job well done may very well inspire other people to go out of their way to do something similar in the future… In my opinion, it’s refreshing to read about someone who talks to someone’s manager to say how good they’re doing. There are way too many stories out there that would go the other way (dissatisfied customers bitching), so it’s nice to hear about this.

    Btw, awesome blog. Congrats on EG.

  3. As someone who works in customer service, I just wanted to say that thank you for doing that. At least at my store when a person makes an effort to compliment someone’s service to the manager we end up getting a $5 gift card (which doesn’t happen too often). Even if they don’t work like that, it’s never a bad thing to show gratitude for something and you’re obviously self-aware enough that you didn’t do it simply to feel good about yourself, that was just a bonus side-effect.

  4. Wouldn’t you appreciate it if you get a similar comment from someone higher than your paygrade about someone who works for you?

    Don’t you think if you’ve done a good job for a customer, it would be great if he lets your supervisor know?

  5. Consider this: did it feel patronizing when you first started the project, when you were talking to strangers like Laura for the first time? Probably not, as it was a deliberate effort to get out of your comfort zone. You were starting small, so to speak, and you built from there! Think of all the people you’ve met who you wouldn’t have if you hadn’t been deliberately aiming for conversation. The fact that you feel a little guilty now – that the comment from whatever post hit so close to home – may mean that there’s some truth to it. Maybe not, but perhaps this is an opportunity for you to revise your manifesto. The whole point of starting this project was to challenge yourself and change something about yourself, and you have! Keep growing.

  6. Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful comments. I think the disconnect for me is that every time I go do something nice or rewarding it’s not that I feel patronizing so much, it’s that I know I’m going to go home and write about it. That’s the back-patting. I could do everything the same and just not blog about it but what’s fun about that?

  7. Hey just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. Congratulations on the engagement hope all goes well!

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