Every year, Labor Day falls on the first Monday in September. Sometimes it’s on the 3rd, sometimes the 7th — it varies, obviously. This year, it came on the 2nd, just one day after National Random Acts of Kindness Day. There’s something rather wonderful about that and it got us wondering.
Random Acts of Kindness Day is also known as Be Kind Day. It is also celebrated in February and November, officially. Lovely. Labor Day comes only once-a-year. Okay. But what if you approached everyday as a chance to Be Kind and a celebration of the American Worker?
We know how busy life gets. We’re constantly on the run ourselves and we came up with what we think is an easy “be kind to your fine labor force” plan anyone can call their own. Today’s article covers those often overlooked service driven areas we as patrons frequently view as about us not those who help us: the supermarket, restaurants and to go places, and retail. You can really make a difference in someone’s life by showing a few kind gestures to make every worker feel they are appreciated.
The grocery store helper
Most of us go to the grocery store at one point in the course of a week. The next time you’re there:
- Take your cart and a few others that have just been left in the parking lot back to the cart station
- Ask the produce person their opinion on fruit or vegetables
- Give the cashier exact change
- Tell the manager about an especially helpful bagger/checker — those compliments can actually turn into little cash bonuses in their paycheck
- Give a small tip of “thanks” to whoever helps you
- Pick up a dropped product or straighten an askew shelf
- Help bag your own stuff if you have a lot to make the line go faster
And, of course, bring your own bags — but you already know that.
Whether you’re at the hottest restaurant in town or giving into your guilty pleasure for drive-thru French fries, the effort that goes into preparing, serving and cleaning up your food is just as significant, truly. Ways to show your appreciation or simply be kind are:
- Give a good server a little extra on the tip and write a note on the check. SIDE NOTE: My dad spent a lot of time working side gigs in restaurants, some of them rather high-end. Back when, if you received a penny tip that meant your service was so good, it was beyond money. Why not bring back the trend but with a twist — because you and I both know if you were just to leave 1¢, your server would freak out? Put your tip down — another act of kindness is to tip your server in cash rather than add it to your credit card, by the way — place the penny on top with a note letting them know what it means and how good they were.
- Tell the manager how much you enjoyed your service/visit
- Tip your host/hostess and thank them
If it’s at a drive-thru, treat the people who help you with the same care you would someone at a fine dining establishment.
- Ask how their day is going
- Be ready with your order when they come on the intercom
- Have exact change
- Slip in a note of encouragement with your money — “You’re awesome.”
And above all, give them a smile and wish them a great day.
Retail can be a sort of brutal gig — I worked one day as a shoe salesperson at a department store and never went back — and remembering that can make your experience and theirs that much better.
- Be polite — even if you don’t need help, let them know you appreciate their asking
- Ask for help when you don’t know what you’re looking for or can’t find it
- Ask their opinion if you’re unsure about something
- Pick up clothes that have fallen and either hang them back on the rack or fold them to put back on the shelf
- Thank your salesperson
- Hand out cards of encouragement and thanks to those who’ve really been helpful — just a little bit of “Thanks for your help” goes a long way
- Spread the word about a store or shop that has given you a great experience
- Send a handwritten letter to corporate — if it’s a chain — singling out that store and its sales staff. If it’s a mom and pop, send a handwritten letter to the store itself
Why handwritten? Because it shows that sharing your opinion meant enough that you took the time to sit down, write it, get an envelope, address it, then mail it rather than type it and press “SEND.” This nod to a bygone era of eloquence and civility evokes a much deeper response.
Little things go a long way
This is by no means an exhaustive list of how you can show those who “serve” you that they are appreciated. Use your creativity and imagination to come up with even more. And if you’re one of those who work in the service industry — hell, if you work at all — think of how you can show your co-workers how much they mean. Take someone’s shift, bring treats to share, help a co-worker clean up, clear their table or run their food for them, place a flower on each person’s workstation, tucked into their locker or on their desk before they come in — you get the drift. Showing a level of care and kindness for our co-workers and those who do things for us goes beyond just the three areas I’ve mentioned, and this is just our way of sparking thought that hopefully turns into a bonfire of kind.
We come across so many people on our journey through life — some good, some not so — and everyday is a chance to turn the path we walk into one of purpose and joy. Whenever you take the time to show someone you care, even if you don’t know them and especially when they least expect it, you open up the possibility of their paying that warmth forward. And before you know it, that fire of kind becomes a supernova that even the coldest hearts can’t diminish.
Happy Labor Day Month to all. May you forever embrace and share your inner Random Acts of Kindness.