The Value Of Courtesy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   While working at the courtesy counter of a grocery store, I see many people who appear flustered. They are upset about having bought the wrong item or purchased a defective product. It is my job to help correct the situation and help the customer feel better about the store. I realize that this is not going to cure AIDS or even poverty, but it is a job that makes me feel good inside.

However large or small the incident, my job involves listening to the customers' points of view and trying to calm them. When I make someone feel so happy that they can come back and make a joke of the incident next time, I know that I am successful. On rare occasions, I even form a bond of friendship with a customer out of the negative experience. I almost always get a thank you and a smile when I am able to help them. After dealing with a shopper, I feel important and the customer feels satisfied. I can recall one occasion when a woman came in and said that her cottage cheese was sour and proceeded to open the container for me to see. She was right. I had never seen anything so putrid. When she put the top back on and handed the cottage cheese to me to dispose of, I gave her a look as if I was disgusted with the company's product too. I told her to get another one at no charge. I apologized and told her I was sorry for the inconvenience. As she winked and walked away smiling, she told me not to take the blame for something that was not my fault. She finished by saying, "Thanks, sweetheart."

Even the simple act of giving someone directions to find a grocery can make me feel helpful and knowledgeable. One woman came into the store missing an important ingredient for a recipe she was making that night for dinner. She was very upset that she couldn't find the ingredient on the shelf. When I walked her back to locate the product, she was relieved, and I felt that I had saved her evening.

I recognize that this is just an after-school job, and in the grand scheme of the world, it may not be significant. Yet, in the scheme of my life, the chance to help people and change their frowns to smiles are worth a lot to me. What job could be more important? n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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