Sometimes when I'm at an airport I take advantage of the waiting time and get my shoes shined. Recently I was at an airport having my shoes shined by a Turkish gentleman who didn't speak much English. Because I couldn't speak his language either, we were limited to sign language, finger pointing and a few English words.
He gestured for me to take a seat and with a broad smile he offered me a selection of three different newspapers—one German, one French and one English. He rolled up the cuff of my trousers and inserted some playing cards between my shoes and socks to protect them and then he got to work. Big shiny, or little shiny? His English vocabulary was limited to the words “Big shiny, or little shiny?”, so I lashed out and went with big shiny. And, after three applications of various cleaning polishes and lots of buffing, my shoes looked brand new.
As a consumer I wanted service, I got it. I wanted a good end result, I got it, and in fact, the end result exceeded my expectations. I wanted it to be quick, it was, and I wanted good value, I got that too. It got me thinking that even if you can’t speak the same language, a smile and great service are the same in any language.