"God bless you, Mr Martin - Thank you for being there".
We've fielded a lot of phone calls this last two crazy weeks,and following our previous trends, most calls have been from older Americans that either don't want to hassle with a website, or aren't exactly computer savvy when trying to order something online. We generally spend several minutes with phone customers getting their part looked up and taking their order information and sometimes a little actual conversation takes place about how things are going where they are and such.
I can honestly say that in all the years I've been involved in our business (that's about 40 years) I've had little enjoyment working the phones and taking calls from customers. I 'm just not a phone person. As a matter of fact, I used to hate working the phones. The last two weeks have been a little different however.
We get calls from all over the country from California to Florida to Iowa and everywhere in between. We ship pretty much anywhere.
For the last two weeks or so, almost every phone call we've received from American senior citizens has been like meeting a new friend. We still help find parts and take their orders, but we've had more wonderful conversations with our older citizens than you can imagine. The conversations past the order taking have ranged from weather, to their Sate or City, their kids, and of course, the whole virus thing.
I've been astounded at the positivity and good nature of these older adults who face the most severe threats. They are taking things in stride, being patient, and being smart. Most are also keenly aware of the sensationalism and hypocrisy of the media and their role in covering the Corona threat. Other than politicians, these Great Americans don't seem to blame or hate anyone. None have sounded panicky. They seem to just take things like they always have - one day at a time and they really want this whole mess to be over.
Some corporate management types would be appalled at the "amount of time we waste". Analysts would say that a 25 minute phone call with an old lady in Dubuque Iowa is a ridiculous waste of time. Production experts would suggest all calls should be limited to 5 minutes so as to move on to the next potential buyer.
My thoughts are a lot different from the pointy headed pencil pushers that don't know anything about human beings.
People we engage with by phone notice right away that something is different. First, they're speaking to a live person. Next, they notice that we don't speak with heavy accents and that they can understand and communicate with us with no problem. It really knocks them for a loop when we ask how they are doing - that's when most of the conversations start
Yesterday, I spent 55 minutes on the phone with 81 yr old Max from Decatur Illinois.
Max called yesterday afternoon about 4 pm looking for a really hard to find part. I figured out what he needed right away and started to take an order from him . Max and I proceeded to engage in a conversation and soon it was like we were sitting on the porch of a general store in a small town, sipping cokes, just shooting the breeze and talking about the world. Just like we were two old friends.
He told me about being an Illinois State Trooper for 31 yrs, while running a small farm. He gave me a complete and in depth lesson on Banjos including which ones are the best and where to buy them. Max told me about his favorite restaurant run by an Amish family and he heartily invited me to visit him some time and he would take me there. He advised me to "don't wait too long, like 10 years or something though, cause I probably won't be around by then" . I assured him we could probably pull it off sooner.
Max told me about his dear wife passing away 10 yrs ago and that he had been by himself since then. " I get real lonely sometimes, but then I realize there ain't nothing you can do about it, you just move on like you always did - one day at a time".
We also spoke about cars he had owned and of trips to Florida and Nashville that he took with his family back in the day. We talked about his knee surgeries. And, of course, we talked about the current state of the world.
When it came down to finishing the order, I told Max that I had enjoyed talking with him so much, I was sending him what he needed for free. He couldn't believe that, and went on further telling me how nice I was and how much he appreciated me taking the time to talk to him. He also reminded me about dinner at the Amish restaurant.
The last words he said to me before he hung up were " Tim, I really enjoyed our talk - God bless you and thank you for being there".
He's not the first one to say that to CC or myself. We've both had these kind of wonderful encounters and the same type of conversations many times over the last two weeks. We've both made a lot of new friends simply because we sense that these older Americans really like having someone to talk to during this worldwide crisis and we're happy to engage them - even for a little bit.
Many of our older Americans are lonely, and just having someone to talk to for a little bit is a big deal for them. If it takes a couple of hours or so out of my business day to make an old person feel welcome, appreciated and happy, then so be it. We owe these American of the Greatest generation thanks for our prosperity and freedom because they earned it building the finest Nation in the history of the world.
These are the little things in life that mean more than making money.