by: Ryan J.A. Hoover
Let me take you back a couple years. Come with me as we relearn a lesson; one that has stuck with me, in my present memory, and inspires me yet. I don't remember exact conversation, but bear with me as I supply something that would sound normal.
We walk into Elida Road Hardware. An old fashioned hardware store. No automatic door, not a computer in the building. Nothing unusual about the day, or the fact that we go to that store. It is one that I go to fairly often. As we enter the door, two sounds greet us. The sleigh bells of yesteryear, the ones that make that sweet, peaceful tinkle as we open the door. The other sound is the electronic beeper that alerts Andy of our presence.
"Good afternoon, Ryan," comes the cheerful acknowledgment. Andy Bianco is a very friendly sort of proprietor. He is of medium build and height, we'll say about 50, and the smile on his face welcomes us.
We walk across the old wood floor -- destitute of stain or varnish, and worn smooth -- with its squeaky spots, and uneven joints. Andy asks us what he can help us with. I tell him we are looking for a spring. He very patiently replies "I carry lots of springs, you're going to need to be more specific."
"Beats me what they're called; just a spring for an old-fashioned screen door."
"That's it. A screen door spring. Right down there." We turn to where he is pointing, and sure enough, there they are. Andy knows his store, and his products. That's why I come here instead of Meijer. The service can't be beat. The price, Yes. But service and satisfaction; No.
I pick up one and follow him to the counter. A keg of peanuts sits beside the counter, and beside it, another for the hulls. Let me know when Lowes does that. Covering the counter is a piece of Plexiglas, and under it, all manner of business cards.
"Hey got a card? Put one under here. Free advertising space."
"Thanks Andy, but I already have one. See, over here."
"Well, I'll be; you do."
He figures up the price, doing the math in his head. "$1.88, with Uncle Sam's share comes to $1.99"
"Put it on Pop's account."
He nods and smiles, remembering that this is the third item this week that received that verdict.
"Good ole' Pop's account." He chuckles. "I don't know what you boys would do without Pop's account!"
He hands me the ticket and as I sign it I ask rhetorically, "You really trust my signature?"
His reply startles, yet gladdens me. "When I can't trust Jerry Hoover's boys; I can't trust nobody!"
We leave, and the brain immediately starts to forget things, in order of importance. But what Andy Bianco said that day, rang in my ears. And it rings in my ears today. That's a tall order to live up to. It's a high standard of integrity. My father made a reputation for that name, and I get to enjoy the benefits thereof. But by the same token, I must maintain that reputation. And that's serious business.
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