From high heels to combat boots: Airman takes customer service seriously -- with a smile

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natasha E. Stannard
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Mondays are a little sweeter for members of the 92nd Medical Support Squadron thanks to an Airman who can turn a little flour and sugar into a smile.

The Air Force brat, who claims Alaska as home, says Mondays can be the worst. To ease into the work week, Airman 1st Class Pauline Lyons occasionally surprises her co-workers on Mondays.

"I just thought I would make flower cupcakes for everyone," said the patient administrator who has been at Fairchild since January 2010. "I just think it makes everyone happy - morale is important and I want everyone to enjoy work."

Especially proud of the flower cupcakes, she carries a photo of them on her iPhone fitted with a pink case. The platter was adorned with green frosting in the form of stems with the cupcakes themselves decorated as flowers. "See?" she said pointing to the picture with a smile that never left her face.

Her smile is described by coworkers as contagious. This skill reflects one of the most-needed customer service qualities. "Attitude," says Airman Lyons, whose desk is adorned with yellow and pink paper carnations and a purple and blue butterfly.

"She always makes my day better," said her supervisor Tech. Sgt. Marcia Swenson. "If anyone is ever in a bad mood, she's a good person to come talk to because she's always smiling and has more energy than five people put together."

As a patient administration technician at the clinic, Airman Lyons has the opportunity to work in three different offices within the medical group. The whimsical desk décor follows her wherever she goes. At her current position in beneficiary services, she sees approximately 100 Airmen a month deploying, or in- or out-processing Fairchild. Not only does she validate checklist items, her favorite part of the job is briefing Airmen new to the base about the medical group's services.

"She's very spunky and if you ask her to do something, she'll do it," said Tech. Sgt. Maryanne Viloria, 92nd Air Refueling Wing protocol specialist and previous coworker of Airman Lyons. "If I needed records she would bring them up when I needed them."

Another coworker, Ira Dubin, made her a certificate that says, "World's Greatest Airman Ever" that's displayed proudly on her cubicle. A ceramic "Peanuts" Lucy figurine with the words "5 cents for advice" sits at the front of her desk next to a pen holder dueling as a vase for the flowers - a gift from another coworker who compliments the sound advice she gives to others.

Though Airman Lyons loves customer service she is especially happy to do it for an Air Force clinic. Being an almost life-long patron of military clinics herself, she identifies with how important her job really is.

"As a dependent, I dreaded going to the hospital. This is why I think it's important to provide good service and have a good attitude. Patients come in who may not be feeling well. I know I may be able to brighten things up for them," the Airman said.

With a family full of past and present Airmen, Airman Lyons said she always knew she wanted to join and make it a career, but she wanted to give civilian life a try first. Two years ago when she visited her Air Force recruiter in Anchorage, Alaska, becoming an Airman was the important thing - her actual job didn't matter.

"I went in open general because I just wanted to be here," she said. "I would have been happy with any job."

Prior to joining, she held several customer service positions in childcare and retail earning a position as a women's shoe department manager. "I loved working at Nordstroms and I gained great customer service skills from it, but I didn't want to work there my whole life," she said. "I've always wanted to be in the Air Force and couldn't picture myself doing anything else. "

After four years on her own, Airman Lyons - who religiously wore heels - broke the news to family and friends of her desire to join the Air Force. Some though, thought the "girly girl" couldn't tough it out through basic military training, but Air Force blue runs thick through her family's veins.

"I think my friends were surprised I joined because I am such a girly girl and they just thought that I couldn't get through basic, but I did and when my family found out, they were very supportive - they were happy."

She described her time at basic training as fun.

"Doing things I never thought I could do was just awesome. I actually I had a lot of fun getting sand in my face. Not having to worry about fixing my hair or doing my makeup was kind nice - it was like a break," she said.

When her low quarters sank into the lush grass at the graduation parade ground at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in September 2009 she joined the ranks of her uniform wearing family members.

"My brother is in the Air Force and my father, aunts, uncles and my grandpa were in, so the Air Force is literally my family," she said. "I love the Air Force - I'm in for life. This is my home."