The Beauty of Service

Valerie - Sonoma, California
Entered on April 7, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I Believe

I believe in the beauty of service. Growing up I went to seventeen different schools due to circumstances beyond my control, and by the time I was a sophomore and looking at going to a fifth high school for my senior year, I’d had enough. I tested out of school, and got a job at the first place that would hire me, which happened to be a carwash. I worked full-time and the work was grimy, many of my fellow workers were convicted felons, and more than one was illiterate.

But at night, my back aching and my hands cracked and beat up, I felt proud of the work I’d done, and the camaraderie

I’d felt with my coworkers. We had spent our day sweating to please others, and managed to smile while doing it.

Over the last fifteen years in the working world, I’ve realized my actions in customer service are far-reaching. No motion is ever wasted. The care and concern I show my customer, without a doubt, affects us both positively. I’ve had people tell me that I am over qualified to make coffee or waitress for a living, and I disagree. In my mind, care and compassion rank highest in occupation.

Some of the most memorable experiences in my life have been while serving others. After a few years at the carwash, I started a job as a bagger at a family market. My favorite part of the job was helping the customer out to their car, because inevitably they would open up about their lives, and we would get to know each other. On this particular day, it wasn’t until we were out of the store, that I noticed my customers’ bald head under her stocking cap. She began a story of a friend of hers who’d had terminal cancer. She’d been asked to sit with her friend as she passed. My customer let me know that at first she’d felt anxious and even a little afraid of the idea, but that she had found the experience profound and even beautiful. She told me it had been an honor and that I should never shy away from, or be afraid of someone who was dying. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes. Bringing the cart back to the store, I felt elated to have had such a human experience.

Service has become part of who I am. Believing in the beauty of service has not only enabled me to connect with people in a positive way, it has given me a purpose in life, and an honorable one at that.