I can't imagine that working at a car rental place is much fun. Especially if you're working in Las Vegas and the line is full of angry customers who have waited an hour only to be barraged with company-managed upsells. I wasn't angry, but I was definitely in line for about an hour waiting to pick up my rental car in Las Vegas.
My friend and I got to the front of the line, and immediately started jokng with the woman behind the desk. We said that we'd like an upgrade to a car with spinning rims, and that it must be good for drive-bys. When she laughed and feigned terror, we invited her into the "business". By the end we were laughing together and she upgraded us to a convertible for free after quietly mumbling "There's a promotion..."
Cruising down the strip in our cherry Sebring Convertible, we talked about the merits of just being friendly and joking around with people.
Fundamentally, people want to get along. My sister went to a plant nursery that was slammed on Yelp for having an unfriendly and sour owner. She made it her mission to be friendly every time in, and eventually they became friends. Few people are really mean and nasty people by nature, rather than by circumstance.
After six hours into an eight hour shift, our rental car agent was probably dying to break the monotony and have a non-scripted interaction. How many times that day did she get to smile and laugh? I always think about then when I'm interacting with people with seemingly-boring jobs. Maybe I can make their day a little bit better, along with my own. Everyone likes a good laugh.
So I always joke around with service people. I tease them a little bit, make fun of myself, or try to tell them something interesting. It's fun to do, and almost always has a big effect on them as well. I can think back to small positive interactions I've had with other people, and what a big effect they've had on me, and I make an effort to have that same effect on others.
When you treat people like friends, they treat you like a friend. What would a friend do in the car rental situation? Joke around, be pleasant with each other, and maybe snag an empty convertible to let their friend drive. We actually rented four cars during this trip, left people smiling each time, and got upgrades every single time.
Joking around is really just shorthand for being authentic, personable, and treating everyone as if they're real people worthy of attention. That's not so hard, even if you're not naturally funny. It can seem like triviality, but I don't believe it is. It can be powerful for the other person, and for you.
Couldn't find any relevant photos, so this a photo of one of the first cherry blossom blooms in Tokyo. I missed the full thing by about 2 days!
Sorry about double-posting yesterday. I forgot that I had queued up a bunch of posts.
A quick background - I love Mercedes cars. As a kid my dad had one for a few years (incidentally, he hated it) and I always liked riding it. When we went to the dealership I would be drawn in by the pro-Mercedes anti-BMW propaganda.
When I bought my first car with my own money, it was a 1985 Mercedes 380SE. It was ten years old at the time, was the first car I'd even test driven, but I really loved the car. Even though it was so old it had good features and was fun to drive. Two months later, it broke.
Several years later I bought my second Mercedes, a 1994 E320 Coupe. I've always been a huge fan of the Mercedes Coupes. For one they have really cool four place seating, so instead of three squished seats in the back you have two full ones with a console in the middle. Their lines are beautiful, and they're fairly rare. I actually still have that car, although my brother, Devon, drives it right now.
It was a few years ago, and I walked into the dining hall and sat with my friends. Pretty routine day. I was a freshman, and my first year was winding down. I was one month into my new frat and life was good.
My friend, a class senator in student government, had a piece of paper laying on the table. I picked it up and read the big title "Run for Student Government", and I immediately joked that I was dropping everything to run for President. I was just joking of course; I had seen a bunch of other Baylor freshmen run for various positions earlier in the year during freshmen elections, and I had no interest in running.
But then my friend said bluntly, "No seriously you should totally do it. The current president is an idiot, and the senators don't like him. We need someone smart." (Note I think pretty highly of the other guy, these aren't my words) That got me thinking that it would be cool to put up a bunch of posters with my name on them around campus. See, I realized nobody gave a shit about it, and every campaign I had seen didn't take advantage of that fact.