This weekend, I was sitting outside my local Starbucks enjoying what’s left of the summer sun when a US Postal Service truck pulled to the curb. The driver got out, grabbed a plastic tote from the back of the truck, and ambled to the drop box he had come to empty. Without much effort, he got the job done. All in all, it was a pretty mundane scene.
However, I took notice of this guy’s clothing. Although he sported the standard-issue postal trousers, they sagged more than a little, the plain blue t-shirt was untucked, and he wore his trendy, flat-brimmed baseball cap backward. None of it seemed very uniform-like, and he just looked sloppy. It occurred to me, “Would a guy from FedEx or UPS ever look like this?”
I knew the answer: no way, and although there must be exceptions somewhere, UPS and FedEx drivers always seem crisp and put-together. Instead, this postal driver’s attire seemed to be a projection of his attitude. Ho hum, punch the clock, get it done. He certainly didn’t see himself as a representative of the brand. More importantly, he didn’t inspire confidence and instead made me think, “I’m glad I pay all of my bills online these days.”
Thinking about this in the context of the water systems industry, as groundwater professionals, we often interact directly with homeowners. Even if a whole crew arrives and starts setting up for a job, someone still has to go to the door and check in, maybe even go into the house to troubleshoot a pressure tank, a control box, or a pressure switch. What does the homeowner see?
If I had a thoughtless gut reaction to someone’s supposedly professional attire while I was sitting on the street, I can imagine that it would be that much stronger if I were ushering someone into my own home. Now, I’m not naive. I’ve been the guy ringing the doorbell too many times not to know that a person gets dirty in this job; there’s just no way around it. But it certainly doesn’t take much for me to tuck in my shirt, clean off my hands, wipe my boots, or even to bring booties to cover them up. These things may seem small, but I’m pretty sure they’ll set me apart from the guy who doesn’t do them.
Think about it and send me your comments.