Monday, January 25, 2010

Where's Marsha?

Every store we go into we look for Marsha. It’s been six years now, and we haven’t found her yet. She didn’t wear a gold award pin from her company, but to us she was the only candidate for employee of the year, any year.  That girl could juggle three things and keep it all straight. No absent-minded attitude, no condescending look; Marsha cared.

Every business needs a Marsha. When my husband, Don, or I would walk up to the counter at the office supply store, she would be busy at the copier or cash register, or she’d be helping a customer or talking on the phone. But without fail she’d immediately look our way with a smile and say, “Be with you in just a minute.” She said the same to everyone, and she meant it.  She made you feel glad you brought her your pile of work to be copied, your problem or your question.

She built up business in the printing department like you wouldn’t believe. You could tell she thrived on being capable and nice at the same time.  Every company needs a Marsha, my husband and I both agreed.

Then, in one of those mysteries of corporate bungling, someone in management decided to branch out into office furniture and curtail the printing side of the business. One day she just wasn’t there when we arrived with a folder full of forms we needed copied. After leaving us to stand there awhile, a lady with the personality of a drill sergeant notified us that “Marsha moved on to manage an infant clothing store” somewhere on the other side of the city.

Go into almost any store to buy something and the employees are chatting together. Some act insulted if you make a query about a product. A lot of “business associates,” as they’re referred to by company policy, seem to be putting in their time, without putting in their energy and talent.

“Where’s Marsha?” we ask each other. We’re hoping that somewhere the Christians will get the idea of showing what genuine caring and service is like. In return, we’re constantly challenged to show patience with these care-less “associates” so that we don’t ruin our Christian testimony in front of them and a store full of customers.

Yes, Martha was a Christian. We found out one day when we brought in our annual reports to be printed. “I knew it; I just knew it,” was my delighted reply when she told me.

How about the rest of us? Does the world know we are followers of Jesus by how we act in the business world? Can we spare a smile? Do they overhear wholesome, good words from us? Are we hard-working, kind, and consistent?

Moms and dads, if your young adult kids are going into retail jobs you can do them a world of good if you train them at home to be versions of Marsha. Retail supervisors, you’d build your business when you learn to train, supervise, and encourage your employees to act like Marsha. It’s good for business, and it’s a great opportunity to learn the meaning of service.

When you go into some store someday and find Marsha, be sure and tell her she’s a fine example of how Christians live and work. Tell her she has two friends in Arizona who think she deserves to be employee of the year.   ###

by Elaine Hardt ©2002