Volume 11, Issue 3 - May/June 2009

Customer Service
tips for quality service

Right is Always Right
by Carl Tompkins

For the times in which we live, I believe the above headline to be of major importance. The full quote from which it is taken reads, “Right is not always easy, but right is always right.” 

I take no credit for this sentiment, though; Ms. Betty Claiborne, a chaplain at the East Baton Rouge Parish prison, originally spoke these words.

In 1963, as a young, African-American woman, Betty violated a state statute by swimming in a public pool that allowed only white people. She was sentenced to 90 days in the state penitentiary for this crime, but, fortunately, only served 10 days, during which her father was able to raise the $100 bail. 

On January 20, 2005, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco stood at the podium of a small church in Baton Rouge, with Claiborne at her side, and granted a full and public pardon to Claiborne for the crime she committed 42 years earlier. We can only imagine the emotion felt by everyone there: sadness that our country could have ever stooped so low to create such harm to a person; tears and sorrow for the burden that Claiborne must have carried for such a long period of time; and pride that she never gave up in her dedication to take the high road. Claiborne demonstrated the ultimate in integrity and ethic. During the ceremony, she was asked to speak, and it was then that she revealed this now-quoted phrase: “Right is not always easy, but right is always right.”

Heroes and Villains
There are heroes and villains in every walk of life. The heroes live up to this title by living in accordance with Claiborne’s quote. Heroes, who are right in what they do, walk a life that matches the talk they provide their peers. Among heroes, commitments are kept. 

Heroes are those who make sacrifices for the betterment of others. Heroes work hard every day with the aim to make better people, a better business, a better industry and a better world in which to live, knowing that the byproduct of such action is both personal and corporate success. Heroes are great problem-solvers who do so quickly through fair and complete communications with all parties involved; they refuse to participate or perpetuate gossip and destructive measures.

Of course, sometimes there seems to be a lack of heroes—particularly in the national news. We certainly all feel the pain that occurs when Wall Street, many of our financial institutions and other major industries lack heroes. 

How about our own industry? We are certainly not immune to the suffering that occurs when things are not going well. The silver lining of such times is that they beckon everyone to step up and do the right things. Simply put, choose and live the lifestyle of a hero!

Words of Wisdom
The most powerful advice that I can give falls under two distinct directives. First, choose and commit to living a hero’s lifestyle. Do something good for yourself from which everyone else also will benefit. 

Next, list these attributes in an abbreviated format on an index card, look at them every day and grade your performance. The great thing about grading your own performance is that your heart will not allow you to cheat. You may struggle at first, but you’ll feel grateful for daily improvement. 

Secondly, take a stand! It is so sad to see how people suffer from their wishy-washy approach to serious industry-related subjects; they’re in today but out tomorrow. 

Even worse than this habit are the causes of people’s uncertainty. Usually, they lack the facts or change their minds based on changing emotions. Though you’ll find many easy reasons to quit or give up, doing so is the wrong thing to do. 

Prove that you are on board; choose to be a hero and always live the Betty Claiborne motto. In closing, do you know what I would like? Pick up the phone and call me at 509/994-6478 to let me know that I can count on you being a hero. I would find nothing more rewarding!

Carl Tompkins
is the Western states area manager for Sika Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash. Mr. Tompkins’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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