Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Daddy, Why Do You Try to Make Them Laugh?"

I admire the folks who work on cruise ships.

They have to put up with an awful lot.

They are trained to serve the guests on ship and cater to those guests' every whim.  They greet you with a smile.  When you complain or point out things, they graciously listen and seek to make you happy--even if you may be wrong.  They bend over backwards to provide you with a fantastic vacation so that you will come back--and spend a whole lot more money, BTW.

And there are some who take advantage of this.   There are some who whine, gripe and complain to the staff a lot.  There are some who treat the staff as beneath themselves--as indentured servants or even slaves.  There are some who look down their noses at the staff of the cruise ship and believe those folks must not have much drive, education, or what have you to have to work as they do.  And I know this hurts those staff folks deeply.  But they buck it up.  They do their jobs.  They smile to your face, but in the privacy of their quarters and with others, I am sure they have to let loose.  I would.  I did when I worked in a service industry many years ago.

I am cognitive of this whenever I deal with folks who work in public service: cashiers, waiters and waitresses, my cabin steward on the boat, the maintenance man working to fix a busted air conditioning unit, the head waiter, the waiter's assistant, the guy busing my table, the guy handing out towels at the swimming pool, and the many, many others.

On occasion after occasion, I try to offer a good word.  I try to offer a word of humor and laughter.  My kids noticed.

"Daddy, why do you try to make them laugh?  Why do you try and make them smile?"

"Because, there are people who do not treat them nicely.  There are people who look down upon them and the work they do, but they are working hard to make a living.  They are just like us.  We don't like being treated badly, so we don't want to treat others badly.  In fact, we like laughing, so I want to make them laugh to.  I hope to bring a smile to their day when there are others who don't."

In some ways, I can see this beginning to rub off on my children.  They treated our cabin steward like gold.

"Dorla, the towel animals are awesome!"
"Dorla, you are AWESOME!"
"I'm going to miss you, Dorla!"
"Thank you for the monkey, Dorla!"

Dorla's smile radiated each and every time my kids thanked her and hugged her.  She was calling them her precious children by the end of the cruise.

I just smiled.

It's too easy to look at others as our servants; as those who are here to meet our expectations and do the things we want them to do.  It's awful easy to think that other people are responsible for our happiness, our joy, our success, and when they do not perform up to our expectations to become angry and frustrated with them.

But as Aung San Sun Kuo said, "I see people as people instead of performing beings."

I haven't always been so thoughtful.  There are times when I still falter, but knowing better God's grace has helped me become more humble.  It's helped me understand the golden rule.  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Why do you try and make them laugh?

Because everyone likes to laugh and smile.  They don't want to be treated like hired help.  They want to know you see them as a fellow person, a person who wants to be treated as an equal.  And we equally share laughter and smiles.


Anonymous said...

The dedicated men and women working on the ships could teach the whole world a lesson on getting along. They come from over thirty different countries working side by side with that contagious smile. What a concept for the rest of us.

Kevin Haug said...

Very, very true!! Thank you for reading and commenting.