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viewpoint

A cheesy love affair

| Tuesday, September 23, 2014

At first glance, my past weekend was no different than an average college weekend. I got together with friends, listened to excessive amounts of Missy Elliot and ordered some pizza. Pretty standard “college.” However, it was an uncharacteristically pleasant pizza-ordering experience that provided me with the opportunity for an extreme shift in perspective.

It all began with a call to Domino’s™ on a fateful Saturday evening. I was privileged enough to speak with Shawn, a friendly pizza spokesman who was clearly eager to please his customer from the moment he picked up the phone.

You’re probably wondering how I came to know Shawn’s name or why I’m so excited about something as simple as adequate customer service. To answer your question, I asked his name in order to break down the patron-server barrier between us. I’ve found through past interactions that simply asking someone’s name is a symbol of courtesy and an efficient social equalizer. Rather than just demanding this stranger to bring me food on demand, I’d use this as an opportunity to show genuine interest in this individual.

Once I introduced myself to Shawn, a whole world of conversational opportunity opened up for us. Not only did he enthusiastically inform me of the store’s $4.99 Parmesan bread bites and Fanta combo special, but he also proved to be a highly like-minded individual to myself. I would go so far as to compare our phone-based relationship to that of Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannson’s voice in the movie ‘Her.’ I told this to Shawn, and it turns out we also share a moderate phobia of Joaquin Phoenix, simply furthering our unexpected compatibility.

I couldn’t help but feel elated when I hung up the phone with Shawn, since I knew that both our nights were improved by our unexpectedly enjoyable phone chat. By simply taking the time to get to know Shawn, ask about his night and share a movie preference, I found Shawn had a willingness to open up and engage in some non-pizza-related banter, which I assume was probably refreshing during a long shift of taking food requests.

Fortunately, my assumption of our mutual joy was confirmed when my pizza arrived, with an extra topping that was even better than sausage. On the pizza box was a heartfelt Sharpie message from none other than my Siri in shining armor himself, reading, “Keep being awesome. – Shawny Poo.” This small, light-hearted message of support was so important to me, confirming that I had helped to brighten Shawn’s night in the same way he had mine.

While we all can’t be quite as compatible as Shawny Poo and me, I highly recommend you all take the time to get to know your pizza delivery boy, or mailman or anyone taking time to make your life a little easier. You never know what you’ll learn about another human being if you allow yourself to connect on a fundamental human level, or even what extra toppings they might throw your way.

Oh, and to Shawn, if you’re out there, keep being awesome.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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