How about a free high five?

Setting a high standard for customer service.

Setting a high standard for customer service.

Remember that blog post a few months ago? That one in April where I pulled into a neighborhood service station to fill up my gas tank, only to find my patience tested by an unexpectedly long wait? That one where I told myself to chill and found myself humbled by a young attendant hustling to do the best job she could?

I finally made it back to that location last weekend. And here’s what happened.

I eased into a spot next to a pump, turned off the ignition and hopped out of my ’67 Bug. Before I could even pop the hood, a young attendant greeted me and asked where to put the gas. (Back then, they put the tank under the hood, so it’s not obvious.)

She took my debit card and set the meter for $20.

“Want to add a car wash today?” she asked brightly.

“No, thanks,” I replied.

“Well, then, how about a free high-five?”

She grinned and raised her right hand. We smacked palms and I stepped back, my mind trying to process what to say next — and how.

“You worked here long?”

“For a little while. Started a couple months ago.”

I paused.

“This may sound a little odd, but was your hair a different color?”

“Yeah, it was darker then. I like to change it up now and then.”

Another pause.

“I think you’ve waited on me before. You were helping some guy with a U-Haul rental and I was waiting for some gas. I was starting to get impatient and thinking about driving off, but I didn’t. I waited and it turned out just fine. I appreciated the great customer service.”

Now it was her turn to process.

“Oh, yeah, I remember. I was in training then.”

“You told me it was your first day.”

“Yeah, it was. I always try to leave my customers with a smile on their face.”

“Well, you’re very good at what you do.”

I told her I’d written about our encounter on my blog. We shook hands and I asked her name.


She declined to be photographed, but agreed a picture of her nametag would be fine.

We shook hands and I drove off, grateful for the chance to compliment a minimum-wage worker for her million-dollar service. And mindful, once again, to show kindness and respect for those in low-status jobs.

Read the original post: “Patience”



11 thoughts on “How about a free high five?

  1. Hi George, I have been following your blog for a while and just wanted to thank you for this particular one…it is a good reminder to treat not just those earning minimum wage, but everyone you meet with the respect we all deserve.
    I really enjoy your blog, and not just because we are cousins…my dad was your Uncle Albert Rede. Have a great day!

    • What a nice surprise to hear from you, Shelley. First, your sister Patricia and now you. Our family is SO big it’s hard to keep up. Thanks for your kind words about the blog. And thanks for saying what I thought about but didn’t add to this post — that it’s important to treat everyone you meet with respect. Sending best wishes to you and your family from Oregon.

    • Totally! But as you can imagine, it’s a guaranteed conversation starter. You wouldn’t believe how many come up and say “I used to drive a (fill in the year)…” or “My dad used to have a (fill in the year)…”

  2. That’s cool. I find good service is easy to find once you relax. I’ve actually started to look for cashiers I know are slower so that I remember to slow down, too. They are usually nicer, and take the time to talk to people. What’s the hurry, anyway?

  3. Fantastic post, George. We also like the Shell station on Broadway right at the entrance ramp to I-5. More accurately, we like the cheerful, hustling guy who always has a big grin, scrubs the windshield and obviously loves his interactions with customers. He probably doesn’t make a lot, but he leaves people like us feeling pretty good about life by the time we pull away from the pumps. If I could tip him a hundred bucks just for being a great human being being, I’d do it in a second.

    • So good to hear from you, Steve. I shy away from that location because it’s SO close to the entrance ramp. I go to the Shell (and now the 76, where Nikkie works) on Broadway, on either side of MLK. Sounds like I need to check out your guy. There are so many unsung people out there. More than a tip, I’ll bet they’d feel rich just hearing a direct compliment.

      • Sandy got to know that Shell because she commutes to Vancouver every day. Otherwise, it’s pretty inconvenient. I make sure to compliment our guy whenever I go there. We always share a laugh over something. It seems important to acknowledge everyone you interact with, no matter what their job — especially those whose jobs tend to make them invisible.

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