Last weekend I roped my son into returning some purchases to the mall with me. It was an annoying errand but one I couldn’t avoid any longer, so we piled the stuff into the car and headed over.
To get to the store we needed, we had to circumnavigate the entrance to find the up escalator and balance unwieldy boxes all the way there.
When we got to the top of the escalator, something kind of wonderful happened. A tall man in the uniform of a security guard greeted us, saying, “Welcome! I hope you all have a great visit to our mall today!” He made warm eye contact and tipped his hat.
I have never seen this before in my life. And in fact, the other security guards I saw in the same mall on the same day were quietly fading into the background, leaning against the wall or on railings, talking to each other or checking their phones. Every time we saw the first guard, though, he was welcoming people to the mall and in many cases, answering their questions or giving directions. Always, he made eye contact. Always, he tipped his hat.
This shift in intention works on so many levels. By taking the initiative to greet people, he is letting them know he is a resource. He is also subtly making his presence felt to those people who might be troublemakers of some sort. He is making an active choice to engage, rather than defaulting to “get through his shift.”