Thought for Today
“The Gift of Giving is the Best Gift
We Have Been Given.”
© 2007 Charley Hoke
For most of my working career, I have been in sales/customer service, from direct sales to retail. I have sold insurance and vacuum cleaners door to door, sold automobiles and forklift tires. I have done advertising, marketing, consulting, and have had various management positions. My very first job, when I was about 9 years old, was delivering newspapers in my neighborhood. I learned a very valuable lesson in the importance of customer service with this job, one that has stayed with me for nearly forty years.
Instead of just tossing the paper in the front yard, like the paperboys before me had done, I carried the paper and placed it on the stoop or front porch. If it was raining, I made sure I put it in a dry spot. If they had a dog who thought the paper was his toy, I made sure it was out of his reach. This was my business now and I wanted to do the best job I possibly could. At least that was what my dad said I wanted to do. (-:
As time went by those that really appreciated the extra service would often greet me at the door with a reward of fresh baked cookies and other treats. When cold weather came I received a new pair of mittens, a hat, and scarf, and then at Christmas, there were presents. I was starting to like this business! However, things were about to change.
I was feeling particularly sad one day and my dad asked me why. “Nobody likes me any more”. I said. “What do you mean?” he said. “Nobody is giving me cookies any more. I used to get cookies every day, now I only get cookies from old Lady Carsons. And that’s only when I carry her paper to her door.” My dad said, “What do you mean son? I thought you carried her paper to her door every day.” “I used to” I said “But she smells kinda funny, and she always wants to hug and kiss me.”
“You know Mrs. Carsons is old and not in the best of health.” My dad said, “She depends on you to help her out so that she doesn’t have to walk across the yard and risk falling and hurting herself. You have let her down, and you have let me down.” Hearing these words I began to cry, “I’m sorry dad I Didn’t mean to let you down.” He asked me if I had stopped taking anyone else’s paper to their door as well.” With tears streaming down my face, I looked at him with fear because I knew I was going to let him down again as I slowly nodded my head yes. “Why did you do this?” He asked.
With a trembling voice and a sniffle I said, “Well you see dad it’s like this, the first ones that I stopped doing this for were the ones who never gave me nothing, I mean other people was giving me some neat stuff, and other people was just being selfish I guess. Then it just got to where it wasn’t worth it anyways, unless I was really hungry and that’s when I go and take old Lady Carsons her paper, and ask her if I can have a cookie.”
I was nearly scared out of my skin when my dad shouted, “You Did What?” “I didn’t mean too.” I cried, not sure what I had done, I just knew I had let my dad down, again. Except this time, he was very angry.
He looked at me and said, “First things first, you already receive a weekly pay from the newspaper for doing your job, which is delivering the paper to the homes in the neighborhood. No one should ever be required, or asked to give you anything else.”
“It is you who is the selfish one son.” He continued, “But” I said, “I did these people a favor and they didn’t preciate me!” “No, that’s not true.” He Said. “You provided an extra service because it made you feel good; when you began to receive gifts you became greedy and selfish. You began to think only those giving you gifts were worthy of your extra service. While it is true that some do not need your service, others do, and it is these people that you have let down the most.”
“What you failed to realize.” Dad said, “You were not rewarded because you provided a service only to those who rewarded you, you were rewarded because you provided a service to everyone, including those who did not need it.” Then he smiled and nodded me a wink and said. “You know son you actually had a good thing going here. I bet if you were to start doing it again because it is right, and because it makes you feel good, that at the very least you would not be sad anymore.”
Dad was right, as he often was. I began providing my extra service to everyone, and I was not sad anymore. As time went by the gifts and cookies returned. I became the chubby little paper boy again. Old Lady Carsons died not too long after that, but she never had to go out to get her paper again, or her mail. (-:
Years later the rewards for those deeds on the paper route continued to come in. I had become a handy man doing odd jobs in the neighborhood. I worked for some of those same people who gave me gifts and cookies from those earlier days. More importantly, I was also working for those people who gave me nothing.
The lesson I learned from all this is, “Always give your customer more than they paid for, if they buy twelve apples, give them thirteen. The next time they want apples they will think of you first.