‘More than OK’

Christmas in Palm Beach

Originally uploaded by dcwriterdawn

This photo got 1,000-plus views on Flickr within an hour of posting it. Funny how a little snapshot on an iPhone can capture so much attention.

In any case, it’s a pale comparison to talk about how one little photo (hopefully) brightened up so many days. But really, it does just take one person to change a whole bunch of lives.

I was hanging out at the mechanic’s this morning. I go to the same place because I really feel taken care of there. I’ve spent dozens of hours with these guys over the course of the past two years. But it’s not that they are the best and brightest, but more so that they have hearts.

I have a friend whose dad has been a mechanic his whole life. And he’s supposedly never really made a dime because he’s always fair and even generous. Which is probably the same way I’d classify my guys. It sucks that the “good guys” never get ahead. But there are people like me to share their stories, and I hope that’s worth something.

My guy Mark has gotten some fame in the local area because of his work on behalf of a 6-year-old girl with late-stage cancer. He collects money for her and recently donated four tires to the family, who have put more than 40,000 miles on their car just taking her to doctor’s appointments and chemo.

One recent Sunday, they came into the store and he said he couldn’t let them leave without new tires (which they could not afford). He called his district manager and got the approval within 15 minutes. He said the whole family cried and hugged him.

I’ve been there on a Sunday. You can’t get anyone to pick up a phone, let alone return a call, if you need something that the store doesn’t have in stock. Of course, these guys drive all over tarnation when I need a part, so I’m not surprised at the random act of philanthropy.

Actually, the last time I was there on a Sunday, it took so long to get the parts I needed from several different stores (which weren’t yet open when I got there) that the guys wanted to share their lunch with me. They had ordered a bunch of tacos and wanted me to come back into the office and join in the fiesta. I ended up calling the corporate office to commend them and thank them for being so thoughtful.

Today, Mark showed me the company newsletter, where someone did a profile on him and his altruistic efforts. It really pleased me to see that human-interest piece. This was something missing from my last couple of gigs — I wanted so much to have the companies do charitable work (Habitat for Humanity, Haiti, whatever). At the Den of Iniquity, one leader told me that he much prefers sitting around smoking pot than entertaining the thought of donating money or time.

I should have just done it my damn self. Of course, I helped in the only way I could: by making donations. I’d much rather write the check than do the work, frankly. But these days, with the next check nowhere in sight, I’m motivated to get off my ass and help in any way I can, too.

(I made a donation to the little girl, since I got a discount. Amazing, redirecting resources from those who have them to those who need them. What a concept!)

When I came in today, the two top guys were commiserating about corporate’s recent smackdown on them for giving too many coupons and discounts. Everything now has to go through Mark — who gave me a very generous discount because, well, he rocks.

Now, he wasn’t saying NOT to give discounts (in fact, the other guy, Don, handed me a coupon for brake work and when I handed it to him when I was cashing out, he acted like he had never seen it before). He was just saying to get his authorization and he’d take the heat for it.

That is my kind of guy. And the same type of supervisor I always found myself being. Empower the staff and serve as an umbrella when the wrath of the heavens rains down.

Clearly it works, as everyone in there today was a repeat customer. I’ve gotten to know quite a few people in the waiting room over the years. This is as close to a family-run business as it gets.

We were in the midst of a Flock of Seagulls sing-a-thon (“Wishing”) when the phone rang. A customer called to tell him that another customer passed away last night, and to invite him to the viewing. He said she was fairly young, that this was sudden, and that he was planning to spend his one day off (tomorrow) with her family.

THAT is why I go there. Not for the discounts (although those do help) but because this guy takes a very active interest in the people he serves — both customers AND employees. Hell, if I knew anything about cars, I would want to work for him.

I gave Mark a CD on the way out — I just so happened to have been listening to the song we were singing when I pulled in this morning. He had heard it on XM and started humming it, and he was blown away that I knew the song. So, I left him with my music, since he was planning to go home and download the song.

I know it’s not big or important or even anything significant, but I wanted to do a little something nice for this guy who takes such good care of the people within his reach.

His colleague Don wished me luck and said he looks forward to the next time I come in because he figures I’ll have good news on the job front. “You’re one of the good ones,” he said. “You’ll be more than OK.”

Maybe I need to step out of my field. Perhaps not altogether, as it’s taken a lot of time to master it and I can do it part-time if need be. But maybe I need to step back into the helping fields again. Because I measure myself by the Marks of this world, and if this one man can make a large difference on the small scale, imagine what I could do if I simply tried to match his contribution to the world.

Suddenly I find myself inspired. …

2 Responses to ‘More than OK’

  1. Silver Blue :

    I’m sitting here crying like a baby. Why? Because this has touched me. I’ve known the Don’s of the world. The Mark’s too. I’ve been where you are, and even though it’s been 13 years for me, the wounds, I just discovered, are just as fresh and raw as they were the day they were inflicted upon me.

    Maybe now, knowing I’m not alone in the way I feel and have felt, I may start to heal.

    Much love, light, luck, and prayers to you, Goddess.

  2. Bill Catlette :

    Bravo… No, make that Standing Bravo! If there is anything that our self-absorbed, wrapped way too tight world needs these days, it is random (and persistent acts of kindness. And when we DO pay it forward, the giver usually benefits as much as the getter.


    Bill Catlette
    co-author, Rebooting Leadership