The hidden arts

This week I had to get a can of paint tinted and I got a pair of contacts fitted.

Two very routine (for some) errands that I came away from full of awe and admiration.

The first task was to get a can of paint to turn to the colour of "vellum". The guy at the paint counter did not just punch in the formula and wait for the machine to pump out the requisite drops, he fiddled, he estimated, he worked with the paint drop machine as carefully as an artist would. He predicted, as it turns out correctly, that the formula would make the colour too green which we did not want.  He smudged a small amount on to a card and blew it dry with a hair dryer, talked to himself about it needing more red. Added four drops, worried about what that might do, knew it wouldn't be enough, added two more. He played with it for more than 30 minutes until he was satisfied. I was entranced.  I had never seen someone mix paint in a hardware store with so much care and experience before.

Next, I had to get the contacts fitted, as my glasses unexpectedly broke and I was in a bad way. Again, I had no expectations.  Just give me the little discs and I'll pop them in my eye, thank you very much.  Instead, I was greeted by a woman possessed by quiet elegance who took her time to carefully listen to my past experiences with contacts, examined them, made some simple suggestions that I had never heard before which completely changed how I used the things.  I had the feeling of being cared for. Of being really heard, that, of course, is rare in a lot of customer service interactions.

I walked away from both having experienced not only good customer service, but also having witnessed people doing a job very well. Both are jobs that are completely underestimated, some might even say ignored. Observing a person with years of perfecting and honing in on a craft, no matter what it is, is mesmerizing and a reminder that no matter what you do, do not doubt the art of it.