The Joy of Making People Happy
I am writing this post on a Sunday. This Sunday from 10 am until 3 pm I have been standing at the information counter in one of the old buildings of the Berlin University of the Arts. Every year at the end of term the university opens the doors for the interested public – young students coming from the secondary schools, people from abroad who are interested in continuing their studies in Berlin or older citizens who want to know about the newest development in the arts.
On Friday and today I had the joy of helping those people to find their ways through one of our oldest buildings. It is the place where Fine Arts and Architecture is taught, and just now we have a big exhibition of our Meisterschüler classes (“Meisterschüler” are students who finished their studies but have done so well that they carry on with their studies for one year).
In those five hours I had to answer all sort of questions: “Where are the toilets” (a question very often asked), “what can I do in this house?”, “where is room soandso?” and so on. Most of the people did not leave the space in front of the counter without a big smile on their face and a big thank you on their lips. Sometimes I got the impression that the experience of being helped in a friendly way was something extraordinary for them, that they were not used to it.
I remember myself how often I missed that experience of being served in a competent and friendly manner. Every time I was met by someone who smiled at me and helped me – answered my questions, helped me to buy clothes in which I looked good – I was extremely happy, and the happy feeling helped me over the rest of the day.
Germany is often named as a “service desert” – a place where service and serving other people is not known anymore. We can rant about it, but the better way is to do it better oneself.