Two days ago the left rear tire on my car encountered some roofing nails on the road, like in some sort of cartoon, or a Charlie Daniels song.
Now, I’m used to bad things happening; red traffic lights or being hit by cars while on my bike in a green bike lane. Today, fate allowed me to limp to the local Big-O Tire. I expected to be out at least the day’s wages to repair or replace the tire, and to provide some context, the car comes with tires costing twice as much as a month’s mortgage.
The service manager was a pleasant man, as young as my children and who clearly knew his business. The shop was full (I got the last space in the lot), and I needed the car for my afternoon route; I had about two hours. He advised me it would be tight, but he would make sure it was done. When I asked him how much, he said it was free, that they would just fix the punctures.
The tires came with the car, so he was under no obligation.
I asked if he took tips; he said sales does not, but the technicians do. Long story short, I took all the cash in my wallet and folded it into my palm to tip the service guy, old school. He was very appreciative, as was I – the ordeal took only one hour. Within five minutes of arriving home, this shop had a 5 star Yelp! review.
Fast forward to today.
Mr. Lake is a man probably 20 years my senior and rides a stylish black Townie with cream colored balloon tires, an eight-speed internally-geared hub, and drum brakes. He was understandably frustrated as his bike had been ghost-shifting intermittently, first working and then falling out of tune. My goal is to be sure this guy never has to see us again outside of tuneups, nothing personal (this always makes a customer smile). After solving his problem, I let him know exactly what I had done, without the technical details, and asked him kindly to bring the bike back in a month for a free checkup. The entire visit cost him nothing but time.
The older crowd really responds to me, mostly because of the silver beard. There is also no substitute for attentive and thorough service, because that’s what matters when you boil the fat away from any interaction. Awareness. Attention to detail. Focus. And of course, kindness.
Mr. Lake had folded a $20 into his palm and shook my hand as he left, smiling broadly.
It comes back around, dunnit?