I received an inspiring story from Martha, who works on the graveyard shift… I thought I would share it on my blog. Here’s what Martha emailed me:
I just have to share with you something that happened last Tuesday morning when I got off work.
But first, we have to go back to 1984 when I spent 7 weeks traveling around Europe. I had spent all of my money by the time I got on a plane in Frankfurt, Germany. We landed in London and had to get off of the plane while we were there for about an hour and then we were going on to Los Angeles. I got thirsty but knew that I only had my lucky dollar and a bunch of foreign coins in the bottom of my handbag. I spotted a snack bar and a sign said “FOREIGN MONEY ACCEPTED.” I got a coke, and started drinking it as I waited in line to pay. I had drank more than half of it when I got to the register and spotted a sign that said “NO FOREIGN COINS, PAPER CURRENCY ONLY.” I had nothing but my lucky dollar and was not going to part with it. I tried to get the cashier to take ALL of my coins which would surely been enough to cover the price of the coke times over but she said no.
Finally, a gentlemen in line behind me said that he would pay for my coke. I thanked him and tried to give him all my foreign coins. He would not take them and told me to just do a favor for someone else. He said just do random acts of kindness for others. Throughout my life I have tried to follow his suggestion as much as possible. It doesn’t always mean paying for something for someone, many things you can do are free. Examples: Bringing your neighbor’s trash can back from the curb, bringing their newspaper to the door, opening a door for someone, or just putting a smile on someone’s face. It can involve money. Examples: The person in front of you in line may need a penny or a few cents so that they don’t have to break a dollar, pay for someone’s coke, etc.
Okay, back to what happened on Tuesday morning. I stopped at Walgreens down the street. I had a ton of stuff to get. When I got to the register, 2 people got in line behind me. I let them both go first rather than wait on me. Then it was my turn. I was about a third of the way into being checked out when an older gentleman got in line. He had 2 cans of peanuts, some salve and a chapstick. I turned to him and told him to give them to me. He had a strange look on his face and asked me why. I told him that I was going to pay for them so that he didn’t have to wait for me to get checked out. He asked why. Out of my mouth came “It’s a random act of Wowness” I totally meant to say “Random act of kindness,” but because of working here at Zappos , the word “WOW” came out. Rather than correct what I said, I just went with it. He handed me his items, I had the cashier scan them and put them in bag and I gave them to the gentleman. He said “Tell me about this “Random acts of Wowness” I explained that it was doing nice things for people, even strangers. I briefly told him about my experience in London. He was so grateful, thanked me and left the store. Then the cashier asked me more about this “Random acts of Wowness” I explained that I worked at Zappos and that we WOW our customers.
I feel that I shared this Wowness with 2 people and that they BOTH will play it forward. (Have you seen the movie “Pay it Forward?”) I had such a great feeling when I left the store.
On Friday morning when I left here at 7:00 am I stopped in the same Walgreens. I had barely gotten in the door when I heard, “Hi Martha.” I thought that someone from work was there. I looked around and realized that it was the same cashier from before. I said to him “I’m surprised that you remembered me and my name.” He said “I wrote your name down from the credit
card receipt and of course I remember you, you’re the person who told me about the “Random acts of Wow or Kindness.” He said that he had told other people about it!
I was so WOWed by this cashier! He got it. I feel that he will be WOWing other people now.
Thanks for the story, Martha. It’s great to see that our WOW philosophy is extending beyond how we treat our customers at Zappos !