Swipe that Blessing!
Years ago when I was a senior in high school I got a job in a men’s clothing department at a popular department store.. This was before they were doing the scanning like they do today. The stock number of the item purchased was carefully put into the cash register. The manager would get a long computer printout once a month. He would let each employee know how many bad numbers they were responsible for. The computer cash register at the time would take most of the numbers entered. If the number was entered wrong it appeared on his end of the month list. We also entered the customer’s credit cards on the computer cash register. Sometimes the credit department number would show up on the screen after we entered their number. At that point we called upstairs and a person actually talked to the customer.
In my corresponding high school class our teacher taught us the skill of counting back money. The cash register would tell us how much to give the customer back, but we were trained to count the money back to them. Suppose the amount was $6.65 and the customer gave me a twenty dollar bill. I would say 6.65 out of 20. They put their hand out and I counted back the change first. $6.75 as I handed them a dime, $7.00 with a quarter. Then the bills 8, 9, 10 as one by one I gave them dollar bills and finally and 20 as I finished the counting with a ten dollar bill. The customer was always glad to have the money counted back. It was a friendly service that took a little bit more time but made them feel like they were appreciated. It also left a good feeling with them that they got back what they were supposed to.
Customer service is a lost art today. Your change is normally slammed back to you. “Your change is $13.62 and clump you have all of it change and everything. Sometimes a machine will kick out your coin change while the cashier is handing you a pile of bills. I guess it’s right. Her cash register said so. Off you go with your purchases and a quite impersonal transaction. I went to an auto parts store last week. I was looking for one particular item. I walked up and down most of the aisles and not a soul was there to help me. The day before Easter I called the bank. I just wanted to see if they were open and for how long? Instead of a person who could answer my question in a second I got the dreaded machine. The first thing it wanted to know was my account number. When I didn’t comply it tried to get other information. I thought I would just not say anything and maybe the machine would switch me to a real person. Not so, the machine actually hung up on me. This is a sample of high tech customer service we receive today.
Many companies confuse customer service with high tech service today. As credit and debit cards abound these days it is so much easier to leave the cash behind. Swiping a card is so much easier and convenient. It’s also less painful. There is something about giving that money away even if you are receiving things. You think about how much you are spending. With a credit card you just swipe and presto. It is like in the casinos when you buy chips. You start spending chips and forget that those chips are actually money.
Credit cards offer convenience, simplicity, and speed. Other cards that we carry may help us with our memberships, health care, and discounts. I received a discount offer from a national convenience store that sells gas. If I didn’t use my card to pay for gas and paid cash I would get 5 cents per gallon off. I had to decline the offer because the bank was paying me 3% in rewards to use my credit card. At $4.00 per gallon that comes to 12 cents. Convenience and savings, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Years ago I wrote a poem called Bless Me Lord. It symbolizes the card swipe attitude we have in our world today. Now the symbolic card is used in our relationship with God. It is impersonal, speedy, and convenient. Somehow we are surprised when our card doesn’t work.
by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997
I have my membership card today
as I come to talk to you
The bless me club has benefits
so here’s my list for you
Lord give me of prosperity,
let troubles pass me by
so things run nice and smooth
until the day I die
I ask you Lord, bless my ideas,
my request here I will lay
so you will see my reasoning
and stamp it A-OK.
Bless also all my family
I know this is legit
It’s right here in this policy
that it’s a benefit
Now I’ll coast through the rest of life
then drive up to your gate,
having my card all ready
there shouldn’t be a wait
I discovered as the days went by
there were problems with my card,
for instead of being nice and smooth
my life was bouncing hard
I called up to the Lord real loud,
Lord, things aren’t getting through
Send someone down to make it right
so I am blessed by you
The Lord spoke to me gently,
In this life you have a choice
You can be in the bless me club
or listen to my voice
I want so badly to use you
but your thinking is in the way
Become an empty vessel
that I can use today
As you listen to my voice today
right here on bended knee
you’ll hear me pleading with you
take up your cross and follow me.
Then he said to them all: “If
anyone would come after me, he
must deny himself and take up
his cross daily and follow me.”