Sunday, March 16, 2008

Boundaries

Boundaries.

We need them.

We all violate them, in various degrees. But overstepping or pushing a limit is bad, no matter how little or great you do it. A little leads to more, eventually to more.

God sets boundaries. The original one was in the Eden garden, concerning one fruit from one tree. To most of us, it seems like a little, tiny petty matter. When that didn't work, God gave us 10 ultimate boundaries. Then Jesus gave us the two greatest boundaries that the 10 ultimate are based on, but those two weren't based on what we couldn't do, but what we could. Get it? With a boundary broken, consequences occurred. Always.

At work, some of my partners are timid when it's time to tell the customers that we're closing. And then timid when the 10 minute grace period after closing is pushed. I have no qualms about opening the door and showing them the way out, usually with a sense of humor, but always firmly. If there was no firm limit on what is open and what is closed in terms of store hours, how could any of us run our lives? I worked in cities where customers waited outside a full twenty minutes before we opened our doors ten minutes early, as I put together the store, the queue forming in the drive through lane or in front of the mall entrance. And the pressure was there, to open especially for them a little bit earlier than usual. And you know how expectations work, then we'd have a line forming even earlier and having to open earlier after that. If my manager said we are officially opening the store on regular basis at an earlier time, then fine.

But the boundary is there.

Tonight, after we were closed twenty minutes. a lady asked me if she could get coffee. We were half way into our close after a very busy day, and all the coffee was dumped and the machines were cleaned and closed. For me to grant this woman her desire, it meant opening them up, brewing for about three minutes and then cleaning and closing them up again. My partners had put in long hours with no breaks this evening. Would I ask them to stay another half hour for this woman's coffee?

No. Her time was up. All day, the customer came first. But after closing the only obligation I had was to efficiently clean and stock the store and make sure my partners got home safely and in a timely fashion. After closing, my store and partners come first. The consequence of me breaking this boundary would eventually make my team get worn down, and make them feel as though that their lives did not matter as much as a customer's whim.

Why does this matter?

Because, it's the little things all day long that we're not minding to do for our customers. A little extra this, a please refill that, a free shot on us, a sample of a donut here and a taste of an Americano there, and yes, we will break a hundred. Just for you. And we're glad to do it, and even are inspired to make your experience even better, a little song and a little joke, a heartfelt smile and if you are really lucky, we just might do a little dance (thousands of possibilities, including the shaken iced tea dance). And despite what you hear, the average barista does not make that much.

Just let us get home on time.

No comments: