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Smile and Sweep

Smile and Sweep

Hello and good day!

How do you teach children to take pride in their work? How do you teach them to do the right thing, not because they will receive a reward, but simply because it is the right thing to do?

It's not easy. And it's not common to see a youngster who understands and embodies this important life principle. It doesn't matter if you are making minimum wage or a million dollars a year.

Great contentment comes from doing the best you can, while accepting mediocrity will make you miserable.

When it comes to retail food establishments, two small things let me know right off the bat if a team is dedicated to doing their best.

Does the staff smile at customers? Is the floor well swept?

If the answer to these two questions isn't an obvious yes, I will no longer do business with a company. That is a firm decision I've made.

Before making a purchase. Before placing my order. Before being seated. I will take a look around. If there is debris on the ground and if the staff isn't smiling at people, I'm walking out.

It means the people working there don't care. They're just going through the motions. There is no pride in what they are doing.

I work hard. So does my brother. So does my wife. So does my dad, So does the entire team here at Fortunato Chocolate.

Our money doesn't come easy. We care and we bust our butts to earn every dollar. Given that we bust our tails to earn our dollars, why would I turn around and spend my money with a company who doesn't do the same?

It doesn't make any sense. Especially when I know there are companies out there who do deserve my business.

I'm just not doing it anymore. It's too hard on my spirit.

Here is what brought this to a head for me.You might think I am a tough dad. I'm okay with that if you do. I made my kids walk three miles in each direction for lunch yesterday.

A total of six miles round trip, just to get a burrito.

Here is the deal. Kids where we buy cacao walk to and from school six miles every day. A kid can walk six miles. There is no question about that.

Not every kid does, but a kid can. I know from my experience working out in campo that the quickest way to earn people's respect is through hard work.

It is pretty much assumed that a gringo coming out to campo from the United States doesn't know how to sweat and strain and put in a full, hard day of physical labor.   But when you prove that misconception wrong, it makes a big impact.

I hate the idea that my kids wouldn't be respected by campo kids if I were to drop them off on a cacao farm. A typical American kid would start complaining about the heat and asking when they were going to take a break.

A campo kid can walk and run and play all day long.

When my kids are with their old man, they aren't going to sit in an air-conditioned car so that we can drive to go sit in an air-conditioned restaurant for lunch. If we're going to drive anywhere, we're driving home to eat.

If you want to eat out as a special treat, you're earning it. We were in a beautiful, forested, local park taking a hike.

I had the afternoon off, and my wife was working the shop. We had several hours together, just us men. Out in the middle of the forest, one of my sons proposed the idea of going out to lunch.  

I told the boys that if they wanted to do that, we were going to hike out the far side of the forest and keep on walking until we could find a place on foot.

We weren't going to drive.I knew for certain it would be a good long walk with plenty of hills.

When we came into the park, I saw there wasn't any shopping nearby, and that the roads were hilly. The boys said they were game.

We got to walking. The day was good and hot. By the time we got to the restaurant, we were sweating and red from the heat and the hills. The boys collapsed into their seats.

I started looking around and I immediately wanted to leave. The floors were absolutely filthy. Nobody had swept all day. The boys were tired though, and they had chosen this place, and they had earned their meal, so we stayed.

After resting for a minute, we got in line to order. When it was our turn, the young man working the counter looked at me blankly.

"Yeah?" he asked. He greeted the other people in line this way as well. The manager was a woman in her forties.She was standing right behind him listening, but she didn't correct him.The entire transaction was a total embarrassment.

I own retail food establishments. If I ever caught anybody on my team greeting a customer that way, I would fire them on the spot.

Even if you are making minimum wage and you don't care about the place where you work, as a point of personal pride, you should smile and welcome a person in.

"Hello! Thank you for coming in! How can I help you today? Your kids are red and sweaty. Have you all been out enjoying the good weather?" It is just as easy to have a good attitude and it makes all the difference in the world.

But it wasn't happening, and the manager wasn't teaching, and it made my blood boil. While my kids were eating, I told them to watch the young man behind the counter.

He came out with a rag and cleaning spray to wipe down the tables. "Watch him boys. He'll bring that same attitude to wiping down the tables. Just watch." Sure enough, he sprayed haphazardly and then didn't even wipe up all the spray. He left bubbles of foamy spray on the tables unwiped.

"Don't ever be like that, boys. Do a good job on every task. It isn't the job you are doing that matters. It's your heart that matters. Take pride boys. Take pride in everything. Do you think this boy's dad would be proud? If you clean tables, clean them the best you can. Please boys, always do your best."

As each customer finished eating and walked out, the debris on the floor got thicker and thicker. The manager didn't care, and nobody was taking the initiative.

Finally, I walked over and asked the manager for a broom and a bottle of spray and a rag. I was going to clean the restaurant myself. My kids are used to my shenanigans, so they weren't embarrassed. i would have made them help me.

The manager asked why I wanted a broom and a rag, and I told her to look around. She was offended and refused to give me the cleaning supplies.

So, we left. She should have given me the supplies. The team would have seen what a good cleaning job looks like.

We walked out and I told the kids never to ask me to eat in that chain again. And I promised them that we'll never sit down in a place where folks don't sweep and don't smile.

Never again.

We hiked back up and down the hills under the sun. Through the forest. Back to the car. My littlest son fell asleep on the drive home. I tuckered him out.

Hopefully my boys learned the lesson. Sweeping and smiling makes all the difference in the world.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!