A few days ago I had to fly to Atlanta on business. My flight had a layover in Charlotte for a couple of hours. I got off the plane feeling more than a little sorry for myself. I had been on a packed flight in a middle seat and I was flying with 2 ruptured discs in my neck. So all in all, I was one miserable traveler. I walked into the ladies restroom in Charlotte’s Terminal B next to Gate 4. I heard her before I saw her. As I rounded the corner into the restroom she said, “Welcome, welcome, welcome! Welcome to Charlotte!” I looked up and saw her wide smile and bright eyes. She looked genuinely happy to see me. She was the restroom attendant. “How are you today? Are you doing ok?” I smiled and said hello and quickly headed for my stall. I listened though as the attendant continued to greet every single person who came in, complimented some, asked questions of others, and wished people safe travels as they left.
As I sat there in the restroom listening, I was struck by how much energy and enthusiasm she had for every single person who was in there, and how sincere she sounded. As I washed my hands at the sink, I took quick glances at her down the long aisle way of the restrooms. I could see how people were responding to her. Sure there were a few who just nodded and even a couple who barely acknowledged her. But most of the people were instantly transformed as if they had just met up with a long lost friend. They quickly chatted with her and thanked her before exiting with a big smile on their faces.
This woman was remarkable and I knew I had to find out more about her. I approached her and asked her if she had a break coming up any time soon. She said she didn’t but asked me how she could help me and if there was something I needed. I told her that I was a talent analyst and explained the work that I did and told her that she was the perfect example of someone with the trait of Positivity. I asked her if I could interview her and ask a few questions while she worked. Luckily for me, she agreed. As she answered my questions she didn’t miss a beat, still engaging each person who entered or left. She helped Mom’s with stroller and Grandma’s with walkers. She found something personal to say to every single person she encountered.
For years I have stressed to managers the importance of hiring salespeople with the innate strength/behavior called Positivity. The Gallup Organization defines Positivity as someone who is generous with praise, quick to smile, the type of person others want to be around. People who have this trait have contagious enthusiasm and find a way to lift the spirits of others. They celebrate every achievement and make things more vital and exciting. They believe that work can be fun and no matter what the set backs you have to keep your sense of humor.
The first thing I asked the restroom attendant was what her name was, and she said, “Mary Love.” Can you believe it? What a perfect name for her. I asked her how long she had been working here and she said two years and that she loves her job. “I love making people smile, there’s not enough of that in the world. I welcome people and bless them and pamper them by keeping my restroom clean so that I make a difference.”
I asked her if people were ever nasty to her or unappreciative when she talked to them. She said that rarely happened and even when it did it didn’t bother her because, “Those people are a blessing too, so I don’t let that bother me.” I asked her if when she went through her training for this position if she was instructed to greet people. She said, “No, I just started doing it…I say what comes out of my heart. I feel like this is my purpose in life, to make a difference in people’s day.”
Wow. “I feel like this is my purpose in life, to make a difference in people’s day.” Those words from her are so powerful and such a great example of the power of positivity in your work. Well, Ms. Mary Love you certainly did that for me. After I finished talking with you, got a hug from you, and a quick picture, I walked to my next gate with a very different attitude and outlook from the one I had when I walked into that restroom.
In fact, her Positivity was still on my mind when my connecting flight landed in Atlanta, and the usual thing happened. The seat belt light goes off, folks begin gathering their belongings, and there are always those people who rush up from the rows behind you rather than waiting to exit when it is their row’s turn. Now what always goes through my mind at this point is my fantasy where I stand up and yell, “Hey – get back to your row! You are not THAT important, wait your turn like the rest of us!!!” and with eyes cast down they skulk back to their seats. Yah right. But this time as I started to feel the slow boil begin, it was quickly cooled by hearing Mary’s words echo in my brain, “Those people are blessings too.” If you know me even a little, you know how NOT like me it is to have that thought.
Mary told me that my interviewing her was a wonderful birthday gift. But I knew the real gift was the one she gave to me and hundreds of other people every day. Her birthday is May 9th and I would love the readers of this article help make her birthday special. Please leave her a Happy Birthday wish in the comment box below. She asked me to send her the link to this post because she was eager to read it, so I know she will see your comments.
Thank you Ms. Mary Love of Charlotte, North Carolina and Happy Birthday.