“There’s 14 billion people in the world; how amazing would it be to get to know all of them, and to empathize with them so deeply that you could see the entire world the way they all see the world? Instead of our one subjective view of how we see reality, I could have 14 billion subjective views, and through that triangulation, really have almost a true objective view of reality.”
A few years ago when I came to the United States for school and being exposed to the culture and lifestyle of friends, who grew up here, I remember being mind blown at the amount of people that started part-time jobs when they were in high school. Majority of them worked retail or restaurants, whether it is to save up money for college or simply for their own petty cash, it was admirable that they were starting to earn money at that age.
Growing up in Hong Kong, let alone an international school, I was privileged to not have to work. In fact, I don’t know any of my friends from high school who would’ve even thought about doing a part time job. Anyway I began to want to follow suit, so I applied for an usher position at my college’s theaters. To my surprise, I was hired and I have been working for that job since. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.
During my senior year of college, I began interning for a hostel in Boston as a campus outreach and marketing coordinator. It was a fantastic internship; I had a ton of freedom to create the events I wanted to create as long as they were able to bring the community into the hostel. As I graduated college, I enjoyed the hostel environment so much that I wanted to work there as a career. At the moment, the only paid position I could do was a front desk job so I began working there in July and it’s been a huge blessing.
I was very excited and very cheerful for the first few weeks of my job, I was able to please majority of the guests I encountered but soon enough, I started getting bored with doing the same thing and saying the same speech day in and day out. It got to the point where I found myself standing at the desk with a dull unapproachable expression when guests entered to check in. Around the same time, I also started noticing a number of rude and hard-to-manage guests.
That was when I realized that not every day is going to be unicorns and rainbows, not every guest is going to walk in with a smile on their face to greet you. Some of these guests have traveled for days, weeks, and months. They have probably encountered difficulties along the way that led them to be unfriendly at that certain point in time. That’s when every shift began to change for me.
I knew as the face of the hostel when the guests first come in the check in – let alone probably the first interaction they have in Boston, it was my job and my duty to be hospitable and assist them in (almost) whatever capacity. Every shift then becomes an attitude of how I can make the guests feel welcome as oppose to how I feel that day.
If I’m having a bad day, it doesn’t mean that I’m becoming less raw and faking my cheerfulness, but it’s an inner understanding that life is more than just our own problems and emotions. It’s about other people. It’s about the connection we build. So if I’m having a bad day, sure – perhaps I won’t be super talkative and asking questions about guests’ previous travel experiences – but I’ll still smile knowing that a simple gesture can mean the world to someone who has sat on a 10 hour bus ride next to an unpleasant stranger.
Funny thing is, when I commit to working with a good attitude despite my devil emotions, throughout my shifts, I find myself genuinely happier and forgetting about why I was having a bad day to start off with.
What attitude do you carry around every day? How does that affect you and the people around you?