Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

October 22, 2017


Respectful response rewarded with positive change


An Alabama forester who travels a lot had a unique experience recently so I asked him to share it with my readers. Our son Tim is the State Staff Forester for USDA-NRCS with an office in Auburn. Most of us have been disappointed in the “free” breakfast at a motel but I doubt any of us have ever reacted to it like Tim did. Here is Tim’s account: 

“I learned early a few good lessons about living. Practicing them has helped me. Other lessons take many years to learn, but I finally have a handle on one of the toughest of them all. Sharing a complaint in a respectful way can sometimes get good results while being obnoxious usually accomplishes nothing. To say it another way, it is better to be nice than nasty.

“I travel a lot; my work takes me all over Alabama. Sometimes I run into an unpleasant waitress, a rude sales clerk or a disagreeable cashier. Sometimes, I am embarrassed to admit, I have responded to those persons with criticism that accomplished nothing more than causing me to feel guilty about my attitude.

“As I have gotten older, I have begun expressing my feelings in a nice, respectful way, either in person or through the surveys that motels send me. I have also done so with the paper surveys restaurants make available. Call me naïve if you wish, but I believe complaining in a courteous way gives me a chance to bring about a positive change.

“Recently I spent the night in the Sleep Inn Hotel in Evergreen, AL and went down stairs to enjoy their continental breakfast before heading out. To appreciate this story, you need to know that I love Conecuh Sausage. And the Conecuh Sausage factory is located in Evergreen, right across the street from the hotel.

“The sausage at Sleep Inn that morning was not Conecuh Sausage and its taste was mediocre at best. But I did more than complain about it. I encouraged the hotel manager and the Conecuh Sausage Sales Manager to get together and work out a deal for the hotel to offer Conecuh Sausage for breakfast. I even sent a copy of the hotel survey which I completed to the Conecuh Sausage Sales Manager. I have the permission of both parties to share what I said and what transpired.

“I expressed my appreciation to Sleep Inn that having stayed there often, I always found it always nice, clean and affordable. Then I pointed out that since the Conecuh Sausage Factory is across the street from the hotel, it would be a great idea for the hotel to offer Conecuh Sausage in their continental breakfast. ‘Think about it,’ I said, ‘Conecuh Sausage is one of the most popular brands of sausage in Alabama and people love it. You could even put up a sign in the breakfast area saying, “Proudly Serving Conecuh Sausage!”’

“Imagine my joyful surprise when I got this response from the Conecuh Sales Manager: ‘We think that's a great idea and we appreciate your suggestion to Sleep Inn! We have been contacted by Sleep Inn Management and are hopeful they will serve Conecuh Sausage as a breakfast item soon! Thank you for your suggestion to the management at Sleep Inn!  We appreciate you!  Please stop by and say hello when you're back in our area.’

        “A few days later I received this message from the manager of Sleep Inn & Suites: Hey Mr. Albritton, just thought I would pass along that we have CONECUH SAUSAGE!! In addition, we also have Blueberry waffles –  beginning next week! Just thought I would pass that along so you can look forward to your next stay and breakfast with us. We can’t wait to see you again!’

        “I remember my granddaddy saying you can catch more flies with honey that you can with vinegar. I reckon that may be true but I know one thing for sure: if you are nice instead of nasty, the Sleep Inn Hotel in Evergreen will offer you Conecuh Sausage to go with your Blueberry waffles!

        “So the next time I have a complaint, I hope I can remember to do the smart thing: offer a respectful suggestion rather than obnoxious criticism.”

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