where everybody knows your name

Maybe I should have been born in Mayberry or somewhere like that. Maybe I should have been born twenty five years earlier. I’m the type of person (that without any rationale) prefers to either be completely anonymous or enjoys when everybody knows me. Usually I prefer the latter despite being mostly introverted. I thought about this recently as I shopped at a local hardware store (for which I was the architect) and several of the employees called me by name as I entered. The service is really good and when you walk in someone immediately asks how they might help you. For those of you who shop in the big box home stores, you could be on fire and no one would acknowledge you. That is if you could even see another employee. If you do find someone, they’re probably not more than twelve years old and are not sure why they’re there. Occasionally you find a smart one, but they’re with another customer and there’s a line forming that is probably twenty deep. In this trip to the hardware store, they stated “did you pick up that [product] you ordered Lee?” I like the personal touch.

These types of things cause me to think.

I have found that when we know the people in our community, at our kids’ schools, or the people that we do business with or services we purchase, we just might get better service. If nothing else, it’s just really nice to have someone say your name when you walk in the door. I like that the person making my sandwich knows me and is not going to sneeze right before they finish making my lunch. Occasionally I frequent the local ‘mom-and-pop’ copy-and-print store for my business. Everyone there knows me and usually the owner will come out and say hello when I am there. It’s nice. One associate always asks me about my son too. I love to talk about my son. I also admit I shop for most of my copying and printing needs as well as my office and computer supplies at a well known big box store. Yes I admit it. However, I have gotten to know many if not most of the day time employees including the managers. I get the absolute best treatment and we chat a bit while I’m paying. Some of them also know my son. Do I get better treatment than the guy next to me? I hope not, but it’s really nice for someone to say something like “we got your order done Lee.” It makes me feel special that they care about me and my work.

A similar thing happens where I take my car for repair. Yes it’s a major dealership, but most of the service managers know me and treat me well. When I am unhappy they listen. When something expensive surfaces, they do their best to make me a deal, find a coupon or something to ease the pain. They always shake my hand. In fact one day recently they told me how happy they were I came that day. Looking puzzled I said why me? After having dealt with an irate and unreasonable customer with an incontinent small dog, my name had come up as a reasonable customer. I’m frugal and scrutinize the charges, but I don’t throw fits or yell at them when my car breaks. I also don’t have a dog that soils the car right before I send it in for repairs.

This is being part of a community, we all know each other. It makes for a completely different environment. It’s pretty difficult to be rude to someone you know or have even a friendly acquaintance type of relationship. However, I still find people prefer anonymity, perhaps so they can be free to say what they like without fear of hurting a relationship. That’s not good business, that’s not good networking and it’s not good community.


top photo is from possum1500’s photostream on Flickr (used under the Creative Common License)

where everybody knows your name

2 thoughts on “where everybody knows your name

  1. Cities are often made up of smaller communities that act like Mayberry. I frequently run into friends and neighbors at restaurants and stores and people that work there frequently know your face if not your name. One of the best things about Atlanta- it’s a big small town!

  2. Helena Bowman says:

    Hi Lee,

    No wonder I enjoy reading your posts – they are personal! I too like knowing those I serve or those that serve me. Sometimes, I decide I will acknowledge everyone who walks by and even though if there is not always reciprocity it doesn’t bother me because I’ve done my share to make the world a bit more humane. And it’s nice that the world hears about your son! Keep it up. He’ll appreciate it later on, if he doesn’t already!

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