Recently I went out for lunch with my extended family to a relatively well known pub in Brisbane. Not the flashiest joint going around, however there is a massive play area and games room for the kids which meant I could have a few hours of “passive parenting” and enjoy a beer.

All in all, the food was terrible, the beer was hot and we waited longer for our food than Tom Hanks did waiting to be rescued. It had a weird self-service element to it where you had to get your own condiments and cutlery and there were no high chairs. It’s fair to say that in terms of expectations, it left a lot to be desired and we would not be returning. Until… Joan walked in. Joan was 71 years old, knee high to a puddle duck and the scent of her hairspray was captivating. Joan was the Maîtres’ D. She was terrible at waitressing, spilt tomato sauce all over me and my 1 year old son and was clearing things off the table that were not yet finished. However, Joan is the sole reason I shall be returning to this particular establishment. She had spunk, a devilish sense of humour and kept us entertained all day. She was holding the whinging babies, doing the drinks run to the bar, and even supervised the kids when she could. She also engaged in cheeky banter with the men of the group which for my husband, was like a red rag to a bull. We all had a blast!

When I asked her how she came to work there she told me that she used to be an Office Manager for a large Shipping company and had retired almost 10 years ago. Her husband had passed away and she had an issue with her Superannuation so she had to return to the workforce two years ago. She said “No one would employ an old duck like me. I tried and tried but they didn’t want to know about it.” She started doing some work for a small charity selling raffle tickets at the pub on a Friday where the General Manager of the pub saw just how engaging and entertaining she was. Week on week she would sell out of raffle tickets and on the off day she wasn’t there, the regulars began to ask where she was. So, he hired her.

This story puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. Recently, we had a training session held by the General Manager of our Perth office. The topic was Sales and Business Development. One thing that resonated with me was that he said the best sales consultants are the ones that are “memorable”. Joan was memorable. She was a terrible waitress but she knew her strengths and she played up to them like second hand lawn bowls. And it worked. I can’t wait to see her again on Saturday.

Deanna Keating – Team Leader

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