Marconi: When Kindness Trumps Cash
The story I’m about to tell you happened exactly the way it’s written. It’s a story about an act of kindness for someone I didn’t know. I’m not looking for praise or recognition. Each shop owner on this planet has a similar story. If there is one thing I’ve learned about the typical shop owner, it's their desire and passion to put others before themselves. As you read this story, I’ll bet you’ll reflect on something you did that went beyond any monetary reward.
A few years back, a woman who appeared to be in her late 70s walked into my customer service office. You could tell by her body language that something wasn’t right. She told me she just filled her tank at the self-serve gas station on the corner, and when she got back into her car, it wouldn’t start. She asked the person inside the C-store for help, and the store clerk said there was no one there who could help her. She then asked to use the phone, and he suggested she walk over to my shop, which was a few blocks away. It was a humid 95 degree August day.
I let her use my phone to call her roadside assistance company. After working through their phone prompts, I could see she was becoming increasingly more upset. After finally reaching a person, she was told that without an exact physical address, they could not dispatch a truck. She tried to give the address where the car was, but for some reason, she was not having any success.
"There are some things in life that transcend money. I would argue that these acts of kindness are priceless!"
By now, she was drained. I could see that this ordeal was taking an emotional toll on her. I asked her if she would like me to help. I grabbed the phone and after attempting to deal with this “customer service rep” on the other end of the line, I gave up and hung up the phone.
I walked the woman to a chair in my waiting area, told one of my service advisors to get her a bottle of water, and I sat down with her. I asked the woman for her keys and told her I would go to the gas station to see if I can find out what’s going on with her car. She said she was on a fixed budget and did not have much money. I let her know all I wanted to do was see if I could find the problem, and for that, I would not charge her.
I took one of my technicians, jumped in my truck, and headed down to the corner gas station. The car was blocking the bays and, as I walked to the car, someone from the store shouted that I better get that car out of the way soon! I walked over to him and said, “If you had any sense, you would have helped the woman instead of making her walk a few blocks in this hot weather.” Without a word, he turned and walked back inside the store.
The reason for the no start was a dead battery. I jumped-started the car, drove it to my shop, and asked the technician to check out the problem. A few minutes later, he informed me that the battery had failed. I told him to install a new one. When I updated the woman on what we were doing, she asked, “How much is the battery? Because I don’t have any credit cards on me and only a little cash.” I asked her what she could afford, and she said she had $75. I told her to give me $50. She cried and said she knew it cost more than that. I told not to worry, she’s been through enough and deserves a little kindness today. She shook my hand and left.
The next day, her daughter arrived at the shop and thanked me for what we did. She offered to pay me the real cost of installing the new battery. I refused, letting her know it was our pleasure to help her mom. She told me she couldn’t believe what she was hearing, thanked me over and over, and gave me a big hug.
As you read this story, did you reflect on an act of kindness you showed toward someone? I’m sure you did. How did it make you feel? There are some things in life that transcend money. I would argue that these acts of kindness are priceless!