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The Lost Secret of Wow

April 11, 2010

We have all met a Barb, that employee who does an extra something that makes you blurt out ‘Wow’. Especially after you’ve done something not too bright, which is a part-time hobby of mine.

I am a chronic loser of gloves and mitts. I only lose one, the right. I take it off to do something and before you can say “Louise, put it in your pocket” poof it’s gone. My wife teases me that it’s time to string my gloves through my coat sleeves like a kindergarten kidlet, but I’m afraid if I did that my coat would disappear.

I am one of 4300 people who lost something at the Olympics. Specifically, an adult small, red Olympic mitten. Yes, that mitt, the cutesy, can’t buy ‘em anymore, 7.2 million dollar fundraiser that made it onto Oprah. I lost it, my bad. I searched. I reported it. Nada. Then I emailed Vancouver’s Translink Lost Property Department.

Subject Line: Lost Right Olympic Mitt, Adult Small

Dear Lost and Found Angel,

I’ve lost a mitt…

I explained that I wanted to frame my mitts to remind me to stay strong. Joannie Rochette’s Olympic bronze medal winning free skate brought tears to my eyes.  Her mom had died three days before. Years before, I competed after my dad died. I’ve skated when my mom was going through cancer. You think you’ll never forget those lessons of resilience, but I wanted a reminder.

A sweet email came back from Barb Szumilak, Work Force Leader with the Coast Mountain Bus Company. Before you could say “hold that glove” a manila envelope arrived, with…the wrong mitt. Any sane person would have stopped there. Feeling ridiculous, embarrassed and precious, I wrote again. Apologizing more than a certain golf guy, I asked if I should return it.

“No don’t send it back. Let me see what I can do,” said Barb. A second envelope arrived, faster than the first. I tore it open, wow.  Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow. A pair!  A beautiful, clean and much newer looking set than my lonely, pilled widow. Barb’s business card was nestled inside the cuff of the right mitt. I emailed her immediately and said THANK YOU over and over, using capitals and way too many exclamation marks for someone my vintage.

Secretly, I called Barb’s office. Andrew answered. I asked, “Is Barb a Tim Horton’s or a Starbuck’s person?”  I eavesdropped on the office buzz. Survey said “Starbucks.” Then I had to ask, “Andrew, are you all like Barb?  What’s it like to work there?”

“Well, people aren’t very nice to you when they’ve lost something. They are upset and often angry. We treat people nice. We bring that energy to them.” He actually said those words. They were committed to the positive. So West Coast, so lovely, so wow.

P.S.

Spoiler alert: don’t tell Barb her prezzie is in the snail mail 😉

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