Service Brings a Smile

This month, we are writing about getting away from it all, whether it’s a trip to Cook Forest, truly one of our regional treasures, or a weekend escape at a special hotel in the city. Vacations give us a chance to take a deep breath and relax, something most of us desperately need to do.

In the spirit of taking care of yourself, I always set aside time around my birthday for a trip out of town. The destination doesn’t matter as much as the chance to unwind, pamper myself and reflect on my year. I spent this year’s birthday on my first-ever trip to Los Angeles and couldn’t have been happier. I had a wonderful traveling companion, visited amazing places, ate memorable meals. I even watched a taping of “The Price is Right.” And winter was more than 2,000 miles away.

But what impressed me the most about the trip wasn’t Plinko or the sunshine; it was the people I met. Almost down to a person they were kind and helpful. Ride-share drivers were friendly and accommodating — offering to adjust the temperature and music. Restaurant staff treated us as welcome guests, going out of their way to ensure that no request felt like an imposition. It was the sort of customer service that I thought only existed in my imagination, like gnomes and pothole-free roads.

I had been having some bad experiences at home that left me feeling that “the customer is always wrong” was the new adage. My trip gave me a glimmer of hope there were still people in the service industry who would go above and beyond. But it’s easier for people in sunny Los Angeles to have a pleasant disposition and I worried that my trip back to Pittsburgh would mean a return to grey skies and surly service.

Then I went to a Duncan Street Dinner, hosted by Kendyl Ryan and Dan Rodriguez, chefs and co-owners of Duncan Street Sandwich Shop in Millvale. The meal was delicious, but that wasn’t what made the evening special; it was the way the friendly pair put their customers’ needs first, making sure the food and drink matched the customers’ tastes and dietary restrictions.

Kendyl and Dan reaffirmed my faith that Pittsburghers also are in fact kindhearted people who care about their customers. Take that L.A.

Categories: Editor