Paper or Plastic? My job ROCKS!

  • Published
  • By CMSgt. Atticus C. Smith
  • Command Chief, 388th Fighter Wing
Cashier: Good afternoon sir, how are you?
Customer: I'm
Cashier: Now? Why's that?
Customer: I just got off work ...
Cashier: Oh! I just started my shift ...
Customer: I'm so sorry ...

The customer didn't just give an obligatory "sorry." He said it as if the cashier just lost a loved one in a tragic accident. Why did he come across that way? Did he automatically assume that the she didn't want to be at work? If she didn't, I sure couldn't tell. She had a great demeanor, a nice smile and was very pleasant. She moved swiftly and performed her tasks with confidence. To me, her actions showed that she was glad to be at work.

I was right. Her response to him: "Oh, no need to be sorry, I'm happy to be here."

As the customer collected his groceries, I couldn't help but speculate how he acts at work. Apparently his day turned into "good" as soon as he left work and then he literally expressed condolences to the cashier for her having to be at work. I suppose he may have just had a bad day; however, he reminded me of several people I have served with. People that lacked spirit, energy and enthusiasm. People who, after you provide a nice resounding "good morning, how are you," just say, in a flat monotone voice..."hey." Or better yet, don't say anything and just provide an obligatory head nod. I suppose those people would understand why someone would say "I'm sorry" after learning that someone's shift just started.

The interaction between the customer and cashier didn't last more than two minutes but a distinct difference was evident. Simply put the cashier R.O.C.K.S! The customer didn't.

The cashier had a sense of Responsibility, a positive Outlook, Commitment, plenty of Kerosene to fuel her motivation, and a Sense of purpose. If, after the exchange, I had to decide who I wanted to serve alongside I would choose the cashier. The determination as to whether or not a person's job rocks, is often a direct reflection of their attitude and enthusiasm.

Our attitude often determines the quality of our lives. Maintaining a positive attitude is tough because negativity is so pervasive today. Just read the comments posted on and you will immediately gain a sense of that. Any article even remotely connected to uniforms, fitness, the Airman's Creed, or the Air Force motto is directly connected to emotional hot buttons. My goodness, if it wasn't for those topics would we have anything to talk about? It's been said that a positive attitude causes a domino effect of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. People naturally gravitate to people who are positive. The same could be said for people who are enthusiastic.

People, especially anyone serving in a leadership capacity, need to be excited about what they do and sometimes it requires a lot of energy. The Air Force is always changing and some of the changes are hard to understand...they will be challenging. If a particular change in policy, standard, or mission is hard to understand then seek ways to elevate your perspective. Ask questions, read articles or news releases. Change is inevitable; resisting it is a waste of time. People who constantly complain and gripe for weeks, months, and years do our organizations no favors. Be enthusiastic and make the best of a given set the tone and others are watching you, they follow your lead. If the leader doesn't have enthusiasm, why should they? As the old adage goes, enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm.

No part of the customer reflected a positive attitude or enthusiasm, on the other hand, the cashier...well she R.O.C.K.S! Who are you? Are you the customer or the cashier? Rock on!

Bring credit and honor to the United States Air Force and take care of each other in all your actions.