Paul Newman supposedly said, “I like watching excellence. If I see a waitress doing her job really well, I could watch it all night.”
I was reminded of and humbled by this recently in an airport bathroom. I travel a lot for work so I visit lots of airport bathrooms. Some are better than others but none is impressively clean. Except this one.
It was in Charlotte International. Across from gate E4. The first thing I noticed was the bathroom attendant. He stood just inside the entrance, greeting us individually.
“Welcome to my bathroom, fresh and clean!”
He wasn’t being ironic.
The man had a European accent (Italian?) and spoke with genuine gusto.
“Welcome to my little kingdom!”
His presence and hospitality took me by surprise. This is not normal bathroom attendant behavior, trust me. But then I looked around the bathroom and it was indeed clean. Very clean. And no foul smell, which is a minor miracle in a men’s room.
As I did my business, the man continued to greet his guests, for that is what we clearly were to him.
I finished, left the bathroom, and caught my plane. But that man and his care stayed with me.
And his use of the word “my.” “My bathroom,” “My little kingdom.” He took ownership of that bathroom and felt responsible to give us his best effort.
I never thought I would say this, but I had a great and memorable customer service experience in an airport bathroom.
Excellence is always impressive, always. Even if (maybe especially if) the job is “menial.”
There’s a lesson.