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Show Jeff Your Workday Bustles Along the Broad Street Line

Kristin Geiger
Public Information Manager

A day in the life of a cashier is never typical, especially when SEPTA's General Manager shadows you for an entire workday.

George W. Smith, a relief cashier along the Authority's Broad Street Line, entered the "Show Jeff Your Work Day" contest and was selected to have General Manager Jeff Knueppel shadow him for an entire work day on September 16. This contest is part of the Building A SEPTA Culture of Service and Creativity (BASCSC) Action Team Three initiative to improve communication between management and employees. The shadow day began at 4:45 a.m. on the concourse level of the Olney Transportation Center in North Philadelphia.

"You must be George," SEPTA General Manager, Jeff Knueppel said.

The two shook hands and shortly after, cashier Hafeeza Askia-Taylor opened her booth for service. In between customers, she raced out to greet the General Manager and expressed her excitement.

"It's so nice to meet you," Hafeeza said. "I'm so glad that George will be with you today representing the cashiers."

George smiled, said thank you and started to explain his duties. Each work day, he travels between the Fern Rock Transportation Center and Allegheny Station along the northern end of the Broad Street Line relieving cashiers for breaks, and fills in for them when a cashier may have to leave work for scheduled time off or sudden family emergencies.

"I try to cover each booth the best way that I can," George said. "Each day varies and depending on what station you're working, things can be stressful."

Knueppel said getting this firsthand experience is important for his understanding of SEPTA's large workforce. "That's why I really like to get out and shadow our employees," Knueppel said. "It provides me with an opportunity to learn more about our employees and to address the issues our employees and customers are experiencing."

Their conversation covered the importance of teamwork and customer service at SEPTA, and family. George mentioned that he has twins that are considering joining the "SEPTA family" after high school.

And, it soon became clear why George said that he considers SEPTA, "The family."

As they walked towards the platform at Broad and Olney, multiple people went out of their way to speak to George. When they exited the train at Fern Rock, people approached him with smiles and a small family hurrying to the train yelled "Hi, Mr. Will." While George waved hello, he smiled. He noted that he has seen many kids grow up on SEPTA.

After leaving Fern Rock, they traveled to Logan Station and met cashier Malikah Rogers. Knueppel noticed a pillow on her chair with an image of SEPTA's Callowhill District emblazoned across the front and asked her about it. Malikah explained that she started her career as a bus operator at the Callowhill District. She said that her mother, a fellow cashier, made the pillow for her. George smiled and said that Malikah's mother was the first cashier that he introduced Knueppel to at the Olney Transportation Center.

Malikah asked Knueppel about the SEPTA Key and told him that she teaches the senior citizens how to use the new turnstiles when they come into the station. She also said that she makes an effort to talk with customers, offering kind words when life has dealt them a rough hand or explaining how the new SEPTA Key card kiosks work.

Knueppel said, "Cashiers are key to helping customers. These booths are occupied every day of the week, all year round. For many of our customers, they are the SEPTA face that they see every day."

George added that he has seen so many things throughout his career and has learned some important lessons about life while working at SEPTA. He said: "I have learned that we all have our own unique story. We experience peaks and valleys so it's important to control your emotions so that they don't control you. As employees working on the front line, the way we treat customers has a direct connection to how they perceive SEPTA. Our interactions with them can make their experience a good or bad one."

A Broad Street Line train rumbled into the station signaling that it was time to head to the next station. George told Knueppel that he tries to get to the cashiers quickly so he rides in the car that will let them off closest to the booth.

"I'm technically shadowing one person but because you're a relief cashier, it's a bonus for me, I get to shadow multiple people at once," Knueppel said. "The shadowing experience helps me to see how we can make the Authority better."

George made sure Knueppel got to meet and speak with as many cashiers that he could during his shift. They continued the rest of the day shuttling up and down the Broad Street Line, reaching cashiers between Fern Rock Transportation Center and Snyder Station. At each booth, Knueppel asked how things were going at their respective stations and answered questions. Knueppel took pages of notes listing their concerns and suggestions, walked around stations with them to gain better insight and in some instances, contacted his staff to address issues that required immediate attention.

At the end of the day, George said, "I hope today made a difference." Knueppel responded and said, "You helped us out, you'll see." George smiled and said, "That's what it's all about."

Show Jeff Your Work Day began with a handshake at 4:45 a.m. on the concourse level of the Olney Transportation Center in North Philadelphia.

George Smith (on right) explains his duties to SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel (on left).

SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel (left) met Cashier Malikah Rogers at Logan Station (right).

George Smith made sure that SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel was able to meet as many cashiers that he could during his shift (Cashier Tracey Anderson pictured above).

George Smith and SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel traveled as far south as Snyder Station along the Broad Street Line to meet cashiers.