Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Shot of The Good Stuff

Last weekend, we were in Newport (Oregon) serving food to the mostly tipsy patrons at the 29th Annual Seafood and Wine Festival. I had great plans for this, our first event of the season. Optimistically, I had projected a 25% sales increase for the weekend. Since last year was our premiere year at the festival, I just naturally assumed that the word was out and that we had nowhere to go but up. Unfortunately, circumstances conspired to prove me wrong…we ended up actually seeing fewer customers this year, though our new-season price increase bumped our total sales by about 8%. Needless to say, I was disappointed. During the season I sort of live and die by the numbers… So I’ve been in a little funk the last few days.

But last night, I received an email. I almost deleted it, because, as a rule, I don’t open emails from people I don’t know. Imagine my surprise when I opened this one:

I had one of your Salmon Dill puffed pastry sandwich pouches at the Seafood and Wine Festival in Newport this last weekend. It was incredible!

Do you have a restaurant in Scappose? If so, can you give me your hours and location, please?

Thank you, I will look for you next year at the festival, but I hope I can eat your wonderful pouches before then.

Thank you –
(a happy customer)

To say that this message made my day…week…month…would be an understatement. I wrote back and asked how she got my email address, since I only remembered giving out one business card to someone scoping us out for another event. Turns out she had emailed the Newport Chamber of Commerce to get the information. How sweet of her to go through all that trouble just to let me know that she enjoyed our product!

Look how someone taking a few minutes out of their busy life to say thank you, send a compliment, give a virtual pat on the back, can suddenly change the whole color of life. Words cannot express how grateful I am to this woman, and to whatever Greater Force led her to send that message at such an uncannily perfect time. It was an upper for which I did not even know I was so desperate.

Moral of the story? We’re so eager, these days, to complain, to bitch, to degrade. We deal with over-worked, underpaid people daily, and the quality of service we get often reflects the degree of over-workedness and underpaidness with which these folks cope day in, day out. Years ago, when I was the one standing behind the counter, I knew how far a kind word or a compliment could go to brighten our bleak world. Since I promoted myself to "entrepreneur," I had forgotten…

Is it so much harder to thank or compliment good service than it is to complain? Why don’t we do it more often? And, you know, I have a feeling if we did do it more often, the quality of the service we receive would rise apace. This dismal pool of acrimony, conflict, and despair that is twenty-first century America could surely use an infusion of positive energy. I, for one, am going to try to carry this lesson with me for as long as I can keep it imprinted on my old dog/new trick brain.


LightYears2Venus said...

I'm such a fan of random acts of kindness. On Saturday I was upstairs and the doorbell rang. I was so glad my husband was downstairs, gloating that for once HE would have to deal with whatever sales/religious person was at the door. A few minutes later he came up to report that it was a resident of our subdivision who wanted to let us know they are painting their house the same colors as ours and think ours is "the nicest house." Well, I'm sure seeing it up close and personal revealed its many flaws not visible from the street, and there truly are MANY much nicer ones, but what a Cloud 9 moment! There is nothing like a completely, totally unexpected zap of brightness. I've been floating for days. You so richly deserved that. Not only did it boost your spirits, but resulted in a lovely post for all of us--you 'paid it forward.'

ckays1967 said...


I am so resisting saying I see Someone's handprint on this so I guess I'll just say the food gods shined on you.

How cool is that? What a lot of trouble she went to to let you know she liked the food.


emmapeelDallas said...

I absolutely believe in random acts of kindness, too. We all want to be accepted, and appreciated, and it's wonderful to get a surprise like that e-mail. I'd print it out and save it, to re-read when I'm feeling down.

Hey, it brightened my day just reading about it, I can only imagine what it was like to receive it.



V said...

That was so nice of your customer and, so rare.

Globetrotter said...

Salmon and dill in puff pastry? Eeegads this is more than this dieting momma can handle!

I do agree wholeheartedly and this is only the second blog (and probably the last I'll read today) that has addressed the same issue of kind words and actions and how they affect us profoundly.

It's amazing how easily we forget that we can impact the lives of others to a greater degree than we realize, by a simple word or action.

Recently I rec'd an email from a writer acknowledging that she appreciated my plugs for her books. It came at the right time for her. She subsequently made me feel better about my own writing, which came at the right time for me. We have exchanged emails since then and I have felt uplifted by the exchange. That's not a very good example but it was the only one I could think of right now.

The other blog I read today was Bon and Mals' blog...Mal posted a heartwarming story from an email he'd rec'd about a little boy being invited into a baseball game. It was evidently a true story and showed just how greatly simple words and actions of kindness can affect others.

Let's keep spreading this little gem of a secret that so many people have forgotten, shall we?