Monday, September 10, 2012

Bright Spots All Around Us

The only thing we are guaranteed in life is change.  Oh, how true that is!

I work for a local, family owned and operated car dealership.  I have had the privilege of working for this family for just over a year now.  My original position was in the Sales side of the car business.  Very colorful!  I recently accepted a position in the Service side of the business.  It's amazing how the two can be so dependent of one another and be so totally different!

I am blessed to work with such great individuals on the same team as myself - the team that wants to make the customer happy!  I'd be lying if I said there hadn't been a learning curve in it all...I've struggled through some days wondering how I was ever going to get it right!  It's a lot to learn - about cars, the systems that run the paperwork, the customers wants and needs, can feel overwhelming.  But, I get to start over everyday with a new set of customers who are giving me a chance to earn their business and giving my dealership the opportunity to outshine the competition.  So, while I may be overwhelmed some days, I appreciate that they have chosen to come spend their hard-earned money with me, my teammates and my company!

Something that helps with that overwhelmed feeling is the blessing that comes in the form of the customer.  You may be thinking - "You're crazy!"  and you're right...but hear me out!  How often do you enter a place of business and think to yourself, "I might get to be someone's bright spot today!"  Probably not very often, huh?!  I'm sure these few folks I'll mention here didn't either...or maybe they did.

I was blessed by the loveliest little lady last week - it had been a rather trying day - and she was so grateful to us for our attention to her needs, the quick repair service she received on her Grand Marquis, and the popcorn I made while she was waiting in our service lounge - sometimes it's the little things, right! ;)  So, she approaches me and thanks me for the popcorn and I tell her she's very welcome.  Naturally, I brushed it off as it was no problem at all...just part of the job, happy to do it, etc....and she makes mention that she and her  late husband used to share popcorn every night before bed.  He had passed some time ago, but the popcorn brought on a flood of memories.  It had been a bright spot in her day...and she looked me directly in the eye and said, "You certainly strike me as someone that knows the Lord, Jennifer."  I of course, responded that I was happy to say she was right.  She went on to tell me that at her age, she made a point to make sure everyone she encountered knew him and that she wanted to make sure Heaven was "slap full" of folks when she got there!  And just like that, she had been a bright spot in my day!  She couldn't have known that I was in fact looking for a church...considering several...praying over which would be my choice for that Sunday.  OR COULD SHE?

I had the pleasure of interacting with a gentleman last week that was hearing impaired.  He brought his vehicle in with an issue and further investigation revealed that he was at the wrong store in my organization.   Not wanting to trouble him with having to re-communicate his story to another person at another location, I simply took the information and relayed it for him.  He was so grateful for the gesture of not wanting to trouble him further.  I had been a bright spot in his day.  I couldn't help but feel as though I was the one with the handicap as I watched him communicate with is 4 year old daughter.  Watching him tend to her needs...getting her popcorn, playing with her in the kids area of the Service Lounge, making sure she didn't wander out the door without him....I felt the warmest feeling come over me.  And just like that, he became the bright spot in my day!

I encountered a young man today that was having trouble with his F250 Diesel truck.  He has been into our service department before...I've seen him three or four times.  In discussion with the technician about his vehicle I determined that the parts needed and the labor required would be covered under warranty.  Informing him that he would only be responsible for the $50 deductible sent both his arms in the air in celebration!  I sensed relief more than excitement, truthfully.  I was the bright spot in his day!  The next step was lining up when he could come back for the repairs to be done.  He informed me that next Tuesday would work.  I asked if first thing at 8:00 would be okay.  He replied, "No, it will have to be afternoon, I have Chemo in the morning."  It honestly felt like the only thing I could hear was the sound of my heart in my ears.  I was so overwhelmed in that moment thinking of his struggle and how mediocre my petty complaints seemed at the time, it brought me to tears.  He became the bright spot in my day!

And I can't close without mentioning my favorite encounter thus far...a most humble service guest arrived one morning to have some recall work and routine maintenance done to her van.  It was discovered upon inspection that tires needed to be on her list very soon.  I sat with her to discuss her options and she shared with me that she had no credit card debt and that she paid cash for everything.  She saved for what she needed and that was that.  She decided to go ahead and have the tires put on that same day but said she needed to get out by lunch.  I assured her we could accommodate that request and set about to make it happen.  I had just been a bright spot in her day.  It wasn't until I came back to her to give her an update on her vehicle that I encountered the blessing.  She shared that she was headed to the grocery store and had to get that done before she had to pick up her kids.  She followed that up by recognizing that the dealership I work for is a longtime supporter of the United Cerebral Palsy Center.  She said she is always proud every year to say, "That's where I have my car serviced" when she sees our name listed as a UCP Center Supporter.  I agreed that we were very fortunate to work for a Dealer that knows and recognizes the importance of giving back to a community.  Especially a community that gives so much to our organization.  And slowly, her story began to unfold:   her eldest son is 45 years old and was born with CP and has been in a wheelchair the majority of his life.  Her youngest son suffered an injury around the age of three that left him with a mental handicap.  He is 41.  Both of these men benefit from the UCP Center and all it has to offer.  They both live at home with her - her husband passed away 16 years prior.  Feeling overwhelmed for her, I shared what an inspiration I thought she was and how strong she must be to do it all.  To which she responded, "Honey, I'm just a mother."  My eyes swelled with tears at that statement!  She spoke of a dear friend that encouraged her to enlist help from a group home for her boys so that she could have time for herself or go do something she wanted to.  She told me how much she loved this dear friend and that they just agree to disagree....that "God gave her these babies to take care of and as long as she could crawl that's exactly what she intended to do."  She may not have known it, but she became the bright spot in my day at that very moment.

Don't get me wrong...some days I get it wrong - vehicles don't cooperate, wrong parts get shipped, I misunderstand issues from customers, etc....but some days I get it right.  And it's those days I wish to duplicate.  I long to be the bright spot in someone's day everyday that I'm breathing!  And if I'm half the gift to someone else that the observant, church-going grandmother, or the attentive, hearing impaired father was or the struggling young Cancer Survivor and the loving mother of those precious men was then I'll call myself successful!

So, here's to getting up tomorrow with that same objective in mind...Lord, give me the focus and strength to handle what comes my way...and help me be a bright spot in someone's day.