Perhaps it’s due to the looming Easter holiday*, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Martha and Mary lately. Do you remember these ladies from the bible story, where Jesus is due to visit and Martha is busy preparing the setting, the meal, everything. Martha drops it all to go be social. Martha continues on in the background. I’m the Martha.
The story goes like this:
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
I want everything to be nice, to keep everything moving as it should. It’s not always feasible to drop everything in the background to go out and party, to go out and socialize. The others will carry on without you. They are the ones who’ll keep the party fun, while you’re in the back, focused on other necessities. I’m not like the Martha in the story who wants Mary to join her back in the kitchen. Mary has her spot in the party, and I’ve got my spot making preparations. I’ve got responsibilities.
I am supposed to focus on behind-the-scenes operations on certain days. Time passes with interruptions, some warranted, others frivolous. Stay late, try to get office time other days, or get behind: Two steps forward, one step back. I tell myself, “A little ahead is better than further behind.” All these partial projects are driving me crazy.
And the projects, all important.
…bad reviews make me crazy because I’m working so much and trying so hard to do it right.
Friends tell me not to look at online reviews. But where else am I going to get a pulse on how the public views my store? I am mortified by some. How can I be the worst at customer service? I give and give and give. Every day, stepping out of my comfort zone. Striving to do-right for my customers.
My goals: To give accurate information. To thoughtfully guide toward beers they’ll like. If I don’t know, to check with others, consult opinions of beer clerk staff. To let people shop in peace. To be approachable. To share. To be in a happy, well-adjusted environment. To run a shop that people like to visit, who love the product, who want to share the experience.
Realizing: My only control is over me. I can encourage others, but they will act as they do. How they act, what they say, affect my store’s reputation, my reputation.
Wondering, “Is it easier to impact unknown expectations or cynical attitudes?”
Realizing: I’m not cut out for this job. I don’t have the interpersonal skills.
Complaints. Criticisms. I see the flaws. I talk with my partner, with staff. What is the customer service experience people seek? What is their expectation? To feel thanked …not have feet kissed. Just to feel appreciated. A simple greeting, an offer to assist. That’s what I request my beer clerks extend. I don’t like pushy salespeople, staff who ask over and over if I need help. When I’m shopping, if I want help I will reach out … but the staff needs to be approachable. This is what I ask of my staff, my partner, to treat the customer as they’d like to be treated, to be approachable.
Are people not extended these easy, kind courtesies?
Even a person entering with an attitude, they are deserving of these simple things. But then, are the ones who curse at you from moment one. Yes, this happens. It’s hard not to let those moments go, when you’re one to obsess over things.
I wanted our store to be the start of beer microcommunities. A place where people can meet and visit about beers at in-store tastings, where they’d get selections of beers to share with friends. It started that way. Tasting turnouts have diminished. I’m not a social leader, not a bullshitter, not a small talker. I’m not the person to be pouring at these events. But I am.
I’m an information prep’r, a researcher, a worker bee. Far from socialite.
I ruminate over this.
How does one just let go? I’m a bit of a brooder and an obsessive-compulsive, so I tend to focus on things and hash through them over and over in my mind. What could I have done better? How can I do this well? Can I step out of my shell and make others feel more welcome?
How can I better handle negativity directed at my business establishment? Though many love what we’ve created and enjoy sharing with others, why do some want to hate? Yes, hate. In their online reviews they tell others not to patronize my business. And here I have given so much, tried so hard, to make this a nice place for them. To make a great place for beer lovers.
It doesn’t live up to the hype. Beer Nazi! Put down? I have no control over these things.
I do, occasionally, feel my social awkardness.
My best method of communication is far from verbal. Words get jumbled. There seems to be a brain-to-mouth disconnect as the wrong word tumbles out. What? That’s not what I meant to say! I make the correction.
I get nervous. I repeat myself, three times. That’s three. Three times, as in 1 – 2 – 3. OCD shines thru. My head goes down, ashamed. I wasn’t trying to drive home a point.
I’m just the Martha.