Cathy With a “C”

There are many reasons I am lucky to do what I do for a living. Without giving it away, I help train people with personal growth and development among other things. I also have the opportunity to meet several people in the course of any given day. At grand opening events such as the one I attended last week, I might learn (and hopefully retain) the names of over five hundred people. As you might imagine, some are more memorable than others.

My method is simple. Greet people with a smile. Take as much interest in them and their story as I hope they have in mine, and ask their name before introducing myself. Volumes of books and seminars have been written and given on effective sales and customer service and I hope this short summary of “method” might save you some time and effort. One thing I might add about this simple form of customer interaction. Do not fake it. It would be better for you to be in an office doing paperwork if your only interaction with a customer is fragmented or phony.

Last week, I bent over to speak to a customer in their car and we spoke for a moment about a few things related to my offerings and a few things related to this or that topic. After Brenda shared her name, I bent lower as to see past Brenda and into the passenger seat of her vehicle. Then I saw a thirty(ish) woman who seemed a little annoyed with my banter but also a little happy when I asked her name. The passenger responded with a firm, “I’m Cathy with a ‘C'”.

Brenda looked at me and smiled a slow, thin smile, as if to convey that Cathy was somehow not like the rest of the customers I met that day. I have no inclination to know why. I have no desire to know the back story of what some might call her disability. I did not ask, and really, when if I get right down to it in my mind, I have no right to ask or even wonder what might have been her history any more than I might be compelled to know the history of any of the five hundred smiles I saw that week. What Cathy left me with, however, has changed my days since meeting her.

Cathy was eager for me to know her name. She was eager for me to know it started with a “C”. She told me with an urgency and a confidence that made me want to know more, though I did not have the chance. What I do know, is that I have had the chance to meet millionaires, people with $2.56 to their name, and everyone in between. I have spoken with others about heavenly things and the basest aspects of human nature. I have heard quotes from religious leaders, dictators, revolutionaries, and children of all ages, but none said more to me about poise and confidence than Cathy. And she did it with one sentence.

I am certain that Cathy needs help with some day to day tasks. I am certain that those charged with her care might get frustrated at times. What I heard that day was someone ready to let me know her name as if I should have known it already. As if I might have been the one uninformed if I had not yet known that Cathy was spelled with a “C”. And here I am on a Sunday morning reminiscing about a chance encounter with a new friend believing that she may know more than me about customer interaction.

It is easy for us to feel we are in positions enough to pity others. It is easy for us to think we know who is disabled or who needs help. To some extent it might be a good quality for some to always fret over and be concerned for others, but to some extent it is pretentious to determine who is less fortunate. The blessings we receive are not dependent on giving or receiving. They require a giver to give to bless a receiver and a receiver to receive in order for the giver to be blessed. It is as much up to the receiver as the giver for blessings to be manifest.

Cathy and I gave each other our names. Sometimes, that is all the blessing you need. At the very least, I think of Cathy and smile. Would that not be the ultimate result of any interaction we were involved in? They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will come. Sometimes, all the teacher needs to speak is her name.




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