On Friday I helped out delivering boxes of books to clients. It was a nice change from the desk job, and got me out into 13 offices from across the city, through East Perth, up to Joondalup and back down to Osborne Park and West Perth.
There were 9 books to a box (each book a 228 page hard cover volume), and you could fit about 6 boxes on our trolley. It was heavy menial work, and I was quite glad I didn’t have to do this for a living everyday. I earned a new found respect for those who did and my arms are still aching 24 hours later.
It was eye opening in another way – the manner in which we were greeted (or not at all). While most offices were fine, some concierges frowned on us at first glance. I would assume these offices take all kinds of deliveries all day, every day, and that the appearance of 2 lads with a trolley of 6 boxes was not that uncommon.
One place greeted us with a hand held out (as if we were invaders) telling us in a loud voice (so everyone in the foyer could hear) that we had to back out of the revolving doors and move down the side street to the back entrance, where we would be let in. When we got there, there was a locked door, a CCTV camera and we had to wait to be let in (state our reason again) and go up the back lifts through the underground car park (which came every 5 mins or so). This added 15 mins each way for each trip (we had 4 lots of 6 boxes to deliver to that building). Strangely, on our last trip down, the same concierge travelled down in the lift and was all smiles.
Nothing wrong about this necessarily, but these are the exact same offices I would have swept into countless times before, all suited up in order to meet the exact same clients. At those times, I would walk confidently to the front lifts and never give the concierge the time of day (nor they me).
Same person, different dress code. Same client, different reason.
It got me thinking about how we treat different people based on their purpose, status and uniform. It reminded me of the Secret Millionaire, or Undercover Boss, where rich people go into poor areas, or their own company, in disguise and see for themselves how things are really done, and how people treat each other.
I hope I treat visitors to our office with equal respect, whoever they are – a Minister, a client, a staff member, family member, a tradie or delivery guy. I will be more aware from now on, and when I visit the same offices in a suit, I will not assume a thing.
Finally, in another ‘perception switch‘, I am doing the CEO Sleepout this Thursday, joining 100 or so others sleeping on cardboard on freezing stone floors, raising money for the homeless. I am 80% of the way to my $5,000 goal, so if you can help me get there, I will be very grateful > here’s my donation page.