RECENTLY MY youngest son, Evan, said, "Dad, I need some new headphones, can we go to Fred Meyer?" Off we went to the Seattle retailer.
While Evan was shopping, I was looking through the bargain bin — the oldies section! I found Bob Dylan's early greatest hits and "London Calling" by The Clash. Both were on a recent "Rolling Stone Magazine's Best 100 Rock Albums of All Time" list.
While we were at the counter, the clerk Lisa made me smile with her positive attitude.
"I used to work here in 1979, at Music Market," I told her and my son.
"Wow," she exclaimed. "I was a negative 2!"
Before I could respond, my son chimed in, "I was a negative 11!"
Man, did I feel old. Feeling a need to explain myself, I replied: "My boss never let me play The Clash. It wasn't on the approved list!"
They both gave me blank stare. The silence was deafening. "Negative 11."
On a recent trip to New Jersey, I called a cab in the evening. The fellow from Yellow Cab was great. He told me his story. He used to work on Wall Street and hated it. After a few stressful years he quit and bought a cab. Now he has a fleet of nine.
"I make more money than my Wall Street friends, and I am having a lot more fun," he told me.
He had a great attitude: positive, friendly, kind. It was an $8 cab fare. I gave him a $3 tip.
On the return trip, I was going to walk because it was only a few miles. After a half mile, I decided to call Yellow Cab again. We vote with our wallets, don't we?
This other cabbie was 180 degrees different than the other fellow. He had a broken nose, which was the first bad sign.
"Where to buddy?" I expected to see Steve Buscemi from "The Sopranos" get in the cab.
"Staybridge Suites, Eatontown," I said. As we came to the right turn, I said, "Turn right here!"
He ignored me. I repeated it. He ignored me one more time. When I protested he said, "Take it easy, buddy!"
OK, I know the game. "How much is the fare?"
After a slight pause he said, "$14.50." "Whoa, buddy," I said. "The fare was only $8 and it was a half mile longer! You better call your dispatcher."
Now had this guy been like the last fellow — kind, positive, friendly — I might have overlooked it. Because he was cynical, antagonistic and rude, I decided to go toe-to-toe. His dispatcher reported over the radio, "9 bucks." It got real quiet in the cab.
We arrived at the hotel, I quietly took his license plate number and cab number down in my journal. I gave him the $9, no tip.
When I got back to my room, I called his boss. I explained both experiences to him. He apologized and explained that the second fellow was new.
I am always amazed at the difference attitude makes to the customer. The guy with the great attitude makes more money per year than his Wall Street friends, and it's fair. He deserves it. He gets it! The law of cause and effect.
The other fellow also reaps what he sows. He may not last as a "Fellow from Yellow."
Driving home from Fred Meyer, I was listening to "London Calling" by The Clash. "Negative 11!" That's what the second cab driver was ... negative 11. The first fellow was positive 75! I wonder if he likes The Clash?
Mark Matteson is an industry consultant, speaker and writer. He can be reached by phone at 877/672-2001, by fax at 425/ 745- 8981 or by e-mail at psgmarkm@ msn. com. His Website is www.mattesonavenue.com