Tolkien, artist

3/100 People in Authority - Tess and Ben


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People in authority are interesting.  Sometimes they wear the cloak of authority easily, flourishing it over their shoulders with flair and allowing it to enhance them.  But other times that cloak of authority actually wears them and they bow down under the load of increased responsibility.  

Why think about authority today?  It hadn't really been my intention, but it became so shortly after the public portion of my day began.  My schedule, although variable, usually revolves around my leaving the house at around 6:00 am and arriving at work sometime between 7:00 am and 7:30 am.  Work, however, is only ten minutes away from home, so what do I do in the interim time?  I read and, at times when I'm very backed up on writing deadlines, I write.  But usually I read.  I read while eating breakfast and that breakfast depends on the current state of my finances as well as the day of the week.  Many days I can be found at my local Caribou Coffeeshop, seated in one of their overstuffed leather chairs with a cup of standard brewed coffee next to me and a rough-cut maple and brown sugar oatmeal to eat ($4.27, down by an additional 10 cents if I know the trivia question for the day).  

I am at my local 'Bou often enough that I am known by name, and since I always order the same thing (a dark roast, black, and oatmeal) often my order gets started when I come through the door.  As much as the staff knows me, I also have started knowing them over the months.  In the morning, the usual Supervisor is Ben, a very laid-back and mild mannered young man who has a calm demeanor and an efficient manner.  His antithesis is Tess, his assistant, who is friendly (in a much more superficial manner)  and efficient (in a sharper, more knife-edged way).  Her desire to be efficient and move people through quickly can cause her to make assumptions and jump to conclusions, sometimes cutting people off and not always listening well. Today was her first day as Supervisor, I was informed by one of the other staff members.  I think she'll do fine in the position, she knows how to operate the shop, but there will be a few less smiles leaving the store under her umbrella than under Ben's.  And that's a shame.  

I fall into the Tess framework often myself as I meet customers at my shop.  Often my assistant gets higher marks for her relationships with our customers than I do, even though her knowledge base isn't as large or extensive.  But she listens better and talks better to the customers.  I wish I could be a bit more like her, but ultimately I have to keep things moving and help people as best I can.  That means that I have to work with people from a platform of knowledge, and I'll just have to leave the 'friend behind the counter' role to others.  Together we all dance the great dance and our customers leave knowing that they were well taken care of, and isn't that the most important thing?  
Interesting, really interesting.

I suppose there is a balance to be reached, between being friendly and moving things along. I have something similar with my students, though there only change each semester, not everyday!
There absolutely is a balance, and some people need more coddling and attention than others. We try to read and understand the people as then come through our door and generally we do fairly well.

- Erulisse (one L)