Have Street Sweepers That Paint As Michelangelo Gone the Way of the Neanderthal?


I greatly appreciate a job well done. A couple of weeks ago, I made my weekly trip to Costco. It was the usual trip, you know, going in for eggs, milk, apples, and bottled water and, $400 later, leaving with all kinds of things that I didn’t realize were necessary until I was milling about through the maze of new products that weren’t there the last time I was. A table (I couldn’t live without) caught my eye, and, as is typical, I still shop with the mindset that I still have my old Cadillac Escalade ESV (the really big one).


Now that my step-children are grown and I only have one child to chauffeur, I drive a small SUV. It is accommodating in most instances, but sometimes I get to my car and memories come flooding back of when I was in high school and I would have to lie down on the bed to get into my favorite pair of jeans. At least, I never had to resort to threading a hanger through the zipper tab for extra grip๐Ÿ˜‰…you ladies know who you are. Nowadays, they use the term jeggings (jeans and leggings hybrid). Yes, jeans were that tight in the Eighties, and yes, my hair was crazy big!

As I was walking to my car, a smiling young Costco employee, that I had seen loading my cart on earlier visits, was at the entrance restocking the snake of bascarts that had been sitting in the corrals in the parking lot. I would guess his age to be between nineteen and twenty-two. As I was leaving the store, he saw that I had a full cart and asked if he could be of assistance getting the box into my car. I told him that I might need it, because it will be like putting 10 pounds of sugar in a 5-pound bag.


Once we got to my car and I lifted the hatch, the sight was even more grim. I may have heard him gasp! In the cargo area sat my daughter’s Michael Phelp’s Pro II swim backpack fully equipped with a solar-powered mini fridge with a backup generator (or at least it looks that big), her swim fins and snorkel in a separate mesh bag, and a large box of books with a destination of the Salvation Army. Oh yeah, AND my 55-pound Portuguese Water Dog, who persistently cries and moans if he is left behind, expectantly sat perched in the back seat. If only he was bilingual and spoke something other than Portuguese Dog-ese…oh, the stories he could tell!


Now, seeing my predicament, I was really hoping that the nice young man would be kind enough to help me with the box (things always looks smaller in the big box stores than they really are). I quickly, and nervously, moved the contents from the cargo area transferring them to the forward passenger seat. I have only once before needed to dismantle the cargo hold cover, but I must have looked like a deer in the headlights because he said, “Don’t worry, I know this model of car very well.”


Sure enough, he pulled this latch, that latch, and we were in business. He smiled the whole time and was nothing but enthusiastic and pleasant. Wow, how refreshing and in short supply that is these days! Shortly afterwards, I was on the road and called my mom. I profusely bragged on this kid’s demeanor. I said, “I am going to have to tell a manager next time I go in.”

Sure enough, this week, I was at Costco, again, and he was walking towards me. I stopped him and asked his name. This time, he looked like a deer in the headlights. He hesitantly told me, “Ja-a-a-mes…what is yours?” By the tone of his voice, I could tell that he thought he may be in trouble. I told him I wanted to know so that I could compliment him to his manager. I said his enthusiasm and energy were to be recognized. He lit up.


I stopped someone that I recognized as a manager and told him about James and asked where I could put it on record. He told me where to go and what to do. He was grateful that I would make the effort, and I told him that it is so unusual to see that level of pride in ones job, much less in someone so young. I told him that people have no problem complaining about being slighted, but so few go out of their way to recognize a superior level of service. Doesn’t positive reinforcement encourage that behavior?


My husband travelled recently, and he lamented the decline of service with the airlines. Years ago, I used to be a flight attendant for a major airline. I too have noticed a HUGE decline in customer-friendly service. Most, not all, ticketing and gate agents no longer engage with travelers. All those years ago, the Vice-President of Inflight Service for the airline I worked for received a letter from a passenger saying that I was more memorable than the Grand Tetons (get your minds out of the gutter). He and a few of his friends were returning from being out west. I gave them great service, told them jokes, and made their trip home a cheerful one.

For my daughter’s eleventh birthday in mid-November, she wanted a crystal chandelier for her bedroom (yes, she is another princess in the making). We found the one she wanted and purchased it on Amazon. Following the chaos of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my daughter’s participation in the Middle School musical, I was finally getting around to hanging it a couple of weeks ago.


I am pretty handy, so I decided to install it myself. As I was assembling this 75-piece masterpiece, I discovered a cracked-crystal bowl and a decorative crystal arm that had threads that wouldn’t grab ahold of the part that twisted into it. I felt my face flush.

My first thought was, “You ding dong! You should have checked all of the parts when you took delivery.” My second thought was, “Oh, poop! Where is the receipt?” Thirdly, I thought, “Gulp! How do I get ahold of the seller on Amazon that sold it to me more than two months ago?” Well, I am so fortunate to say, the seller has been amazing. His professionalism has been off the charts! He gushed apologies, thanked me for my business, and thoroughly has followed up with ever step of rectifying the situation. These days, it isn’t often that my expectations are met, much less exceeded!

My daughter’s dance team has been doing a routine in which the girls had to stand atop little wrought-iron chairs. The seat had come off of her chair and was therefore unsafe for her to use. Honestly, I didn’t know what the heck I was going to do. I didn’t have a tool to drill holes into the iron, and she had a national dance competition the next day.


We have all gone into hardware stores with a problem that needed solving, only to leave feeling dejected when they tell us they can’t help us fix whatever needs fixing. I stopped at a hardware store and asked if there was someone in there that was handy. I was referred to an elderly gentleman, Larry, that eagerly accepted the challenge. He told me to give him a couple of hours and call him. I felt such relief! I called him after my daughter finished swim practice and it was finished!!! When I picked it up, it was solidly fixed, and he recommended I replace a missing pad for one of the legs that would make it even more stable and safe! He earned a loyal customer!

It isn’t difficult to take pride in your job. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’ ” Though those “brush-wielding street sweepers” seem to be going the way of the Neanderthal, there are still those that take pride in doing their job well. I strongly believe their efforts toward hard work and attention to detail are worthy of recognition and praise.


6 thoughts on “Have Street Sweepers That Paint As Michelangelo Gone the Way of the Neanderthal?

  1. Thank you for this post, Lauri. It prompted me to follow up with the manager of a hotel in which we recently stayed to commend an outstanding employee who went above and beyond the call of duty when we really needed it. When people stand out in unique and wonderful ways, we need to call them out and sound the horn!

    Liked by 1 person

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