“The city never sleeps” is the universal well-known marketing mantra for Citibank, the international banking giant now known as Citi. In this marketing effort, Citi hoped to impart the availability of its retail services to its customers, as well as its 24/7 attention to the needs, services and problems of its customers. The mantra also implied engagement, warmth and attention for its New York City customers, as well as a high level of customer service in a city that can many times be impersonal. In this effort, Citi’s objectives can be described as the marketing equivalent of trying to replicate what is generally described as Southern Hospitality.
After the Academy, (BMA) the planning, the vacillation, the packing, the apprehension and finally the loading of her life’s possessions in her Dad’s MDX for the trip to Southern Adventist University, (Southern) Kristin and her parents were ready to hit the road. In the midnight hours of August 27, 2010 as we left Staten Island however, the sparseness of traffic, the “black hole” of the night, the quietness of the surroundings, as well as the absence of meaningful activities and the indifference of the outside environment provided the perfect setting for what I have come to describe as the in-hospitability of the night. This in-hospitability has perfect opposing parallels for our initial and subsequent experiences at Southern.
As the trip progressed, darkness faded and was replaced with sunlight and the related fading of indifference and sparseness, as other travelers on the road provided life, engagement, and more activities. Inside the truck, slumber gave way to conversation as we were all able to see and appreciate the beautiful natural environment as we traversed I-81.
As we pulled into the parking area at Taylor Hall on Sunday morning, the polite, enthusiastic and well-identified “We-Haul” movers were ready to assist us; as we entered the building to begin financial clearance and registration activities, the polite and conspicuous staff were on hand to greet and guide us; as we exited the building, staffers were on hand to offer us cool refreshing drinks and water amid the heat; as Kristin was finally ready to move into her dorm, the “We-Haul” movers were ready, and did an excellent job in helping us to move her in. Along with the comprehensive parents seminar and its student support (including the students’ meet and greet session) Southern University’s warmth, attention, customer service, professionalism, courtesies and beautiful campus, is reflective of the highest Christian standards of what is culturally and otherwise known as Southern Hospitality.
As our day-long sojourn at Southern unfolded, we were exposed to higher levels of attention, warmth and customer service, just as the onset of sunlight and a new day led to the fading of the indifference and sparseness that characterized the beginning of our long trip. For Kristin and her parents, the apprehension of the new experience and the indifference and in-hospitability of the night has been replaced by the certainty of Southern Hospitality.