Who is on your front line?

I am an avid recycler, I diligently sort my trash; separate out the paper, glass, aluminum and plastic bottles from the rest of the waste. I even take the recycling home from my office because our complex does not offer recycling. But just last week, my recycle loving world was turned upside down…

After the holidays, I had 3 large cardboard boxes ready for my curbside recycling pickup. I was able to fit one in the can and the other two I sat carefully next to the can on the roadside (check out the photo with this blog). When the recycle truck came by, I watched in awe as the driver first crushed my can; had to get out of his truck to pick up the can and pull the box out of it; then hop back in his truck and drive off. He never even touched the other two boxes! Why, I thought, could he take a box out of the can, but not pick up the same size box from next to the can?  Does it make sense to send another truck out to get the remaining boxes? What about the extra fuel consumption? How does this impact the environmental picture?

My entire mood for the day was dampened by this frustration and I even began to wonder why I should go through the effort of recycling when the collection crew obviously did not care to take it.

Earlier this week I had another experience, while boarding the city metro I was greeted by a cheerful smile and a driver asking how my day was going! This driver was amazing! A kind word to every passenger as they boarded; she made sure to know every stop each passenger needed; and even chased down another bus through several stops to make sure one of her passengers made their connection! The ride was so utterly enjoyable, that I began to search for additional routes that I may be able to take on future occasions. I began to calculate how much time and fuel I could possibly save by using the metro as opposed to driving; how much more productive my time could be; and the extra environmental impact I could make by doing so.

As I stepped off the metro, I reflected on these two events and realized the immense impact that such simple gestures could have. One causing me to question my desire to recycle and the other igniting a desire to find creative ways to add more public transportation in my life. Each of these people impacted my life, my views and my actions without even knowing it. These people are the ones on the front line in every company, interacting with your customers and leaving a message with them. They are often not the highest paid, or even the most recognized – but in many ways, they may be the most important and they are the front line of your company. Giving them inspiration, or desperation; loyalty to you or to your competition; saying we want your business, you are a valued customer and we appreciate you.

Or are they saying something different?