Hey!! I am standing here.


There is a fish shop in front of the station that sells fresh cuts of the ocean’s finest offerings at a price that outshines the local supermarket. I have been going there for years. Every time I do, the fishmongers ignore me. I stand in line behind the old ladies from the neighborhood waiting to be called on. All of the people in front of me get serviced, as they should. All of the people who walked up after them get serviced before me too. Waiting patiently in line means that I will never get to buy any fish. I have to be aggressive, almost rude. “Hey!! I am standing here. Take my order!”

There is only one guy at the fish stand that understands customer service. You can see him there in the photo. He is always attentive and tries his best to take care of everyone. Once in a while, he gives me a few yen off the price or slips in an extra cut of fish. He knows I will be back because of it. A few weeks ago, I wanted to buy mussels from him. He promised to check the availability at the market and asked me to call again in a day or two. When I called, someone else answered the phone.

“Hello! What!! Mussels? What the hell are you talking about?” (a voice from the back could be heard interrupting) “Hold on!!!” Then my guy got on the phone and the whole atmosphere changed.

“Thank you for calling. I checked at the market and they do have mussels. They are a bit small, but they are fresh. I can get them for you for 1,500 yen a kilogram. Is that ok?”

I didn’t tell him that two seconds before he had gotten on the line, I was ready to call the whole thing off and that he had saved the sale. The next day I went to pick up my shellfish. The guy, hunchbacked from all the years of hauling fish, walked over and greeted me with a professional smile. I purchased the mussels and promised I would be back again. I most certainly will be back there, but not for the price or the quality alone. I will be back because he earned my customer loyalty.

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