As a Christian, I think is super important that I represent Christ even when I’m just scooping ice cream. But practically, that can be hard to apply. Here is a look back at some things I’ve learned during my time behind the counter!
- A friendly smile goes a long way. It is always a special moment when someone walks in, looking like they haven’t had such a great day, and as they walk up to my counter I give them a smile and say “Hi there! How are you?” Instantly, they subtly mirror the happiness I am showing them. My pastor frequently quips, “Why do some Christians look like they were baptized in lemon juice?” I think it is a huge testimony to who I have in my heart when I can be joyful at work and it overflows to the customers.
- I can’t control how a customer is going to act towards me, but I can control how I act towards them. I think about how I want to be treated as a customer, and then I do just that. Whether or not the customer responds in kind is out of my control, but how I react to them (no matter how they treat me!) is my choice. A lot of the time, people are very nice to me (how can you be mean while eating ice cream?!), but sometimes, there are difficult people who are just looking for something to argue about. I can’t control that, so I just take a deep breath, and I hold onto the control I have over my reaction. What's funny is that this didn’t go unnoticed by my coworkers. One day, they admitted that they often ask me to take over their customers because they’re being too difficult. “You have the patience of a saint,” my boss likes to tell me. “That’s why we hand off the horrible customers to you.” I don't think you would've been able to say that about me a few years ago, so it is amazing to find out how God has changed me in little ways like that. Luke 6:32 – 36 outlines what it’s like to love people who are not all that lovely, and I hold to that as a model for how I feel about difficult customers.
- Integrity is KEY. This is important overall, of course; but when it comes to dealing with money, I really need to be conscious of my actions. The owner of my job is very particular about us scoopers weighing our ice creams before we hand them out. I admit, at first I didn’t always weigh. But this caused problems sometimes. For instance, one customer heard the price of their order, and wondered aloud whether they were getting their money’s worth. My manager took the ice cream back, weighed it, and saw that I had cheated them out of a couple of ounces. I was very embarrassed and changed my attitude; I didn’t want anyone to doubt that I was doing the work to the best of my ability. When I slack off at work, I’m discrediting not only myself, but I’m discrediting the God I claim to worship. A good thing to remember is to do EVERYTHING to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and always be completely transparent. I scoop my with such precision that even if no one checks to see if I scooped exactly six ounces, I know that I gave exactly six ounces.
- Get to know the customers. Recognizing regulars makes the customers feel like they aren’t just another order. Personally, I love when the people at Dunkin' Donuts recognize me (sometimes, they see me coming and have my coffee ready for me before I walk up to the counter! It makes me so happy!). Therefore, I aim to give everyone the treatment I would expect (Matthew 7:12). I try to remember something about what a customer tells me to follow up with them about next time I see them. Clifford, who invariably orders a large hard-serve vanilla shake, is a computer expert, and I can count on him to offer me advice about my laptop. Some people I don't even know by name, just by their usual order, such as “coffee ice cream with a little fudge and walnuts," the couple who comes in after their evening bike ride and splits a tuna and cheese melt with tomato on half, and the phone order “3 hamburgers, 3 hot dogs.” Relationships create a sense of community and friendliness, making the place you work pretty special. One guy drives from an hour away every month, just to get his salted caramel truffle ice cream. Then again, sometimes people come just once, such as the three British students who wanted to experience an American restaurant. It was pretty cool to be a kind of an ambassador for the US food service! :) It seemed like they had a great experience to bring back to the UK.
- Remember that I'm representing Christ! I think the most perfect application of Colossians 3:23 is for people who deal with customers every day: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” God is putting each of these people in front of me for a purpose – they didn’t wander in serendipitously – and there is an opportunity each time I see them to show them what God’s love looks like. I don’t want to let that chance slip by. Colossians 4:5 says “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”