Years ago, employees at a Hilton Head Island hotel answered telephone calls with the message, "It's a beautiful day on Hilton Head Island."
Rain or shine; cold or hot. It rang false and came across as silly, especially to those of us calling locally and suffering through the bad weather the hotel said didn't exist.
The same will be true for state employees answering calls with, "It's a great day in South Carolina. How can I help you?"
That's Gov. Nikki Haley's self-proclaimed "hokey" idea. She's told directors of her Cabinet agencies to make it happen.
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Demanding that state workers be polite and helpful to the people who pay their salaries is perfectly appropriate. Employees who are surly and unhelpful should be told to change their ways or find another job. A positive attitude goes a long way. Platitudes do not.
Proclaiming it a great day in South Carolina does nothing to promote professionalism, nor will it ensure enthusiasm for one's job. Those words can be delivered with a snarl just as easily as a smile.
Haley says she's selling South Carolina as a "positive state."
But it's safe to say the people she's trying to sell South Carolina to aren't calling the Corrections Department, the Department of Employment and Workforce or the Department of Motor Vehicles. We'll give her the Commerce Department.
For South Carolina residents, the scripted greeting won't mean much. We can discern polite and helpful without it.
The hotel greeting, aimed at potential visitors, did nothing to improve the weather on Hilton Head. State employees will not change South Carolina's economic conditions, lower the unempoyment rate, fix our tax system or improve our public schools with Haley's greeting.
Insist on courtesy. Require a helpful approach to inquiries. Don't demand artifice.