Sharing the Love, Locally

Even small, routine interactions can be meaningful

February is undisputedly the month where love takes center stage, at least commercially. Yes, Valentine’s Day may be what some call a “Hallmark holiday,” while single people may actually revel in their solitary status on a day devoted to showing outward expressions of love through cards, flowers, and gifts.

Yet the largeness of love can reverberate in many forms and it need not be limited to romantic love. The ancient Greeks had eight words that represented different types of love, one being philia (friendship) and agape, or selfless, universal love. This includes compassion and empathy, including for strangers, as well as love for nature or God.

Considering this, and bringing the focus to the business arena, how can we show our love for others this season, and beyond? Overall, bringing patience, understanding, and kindness to the forefront in all dealings, whether in business or not, should be a constant. We never know the individual challenges others are dealing with, but then add a pandemic and accompanying anxiety-producing worries…well, let’s just say we all are dealing with a disrupted reality and some are surely struggling more than others. 

With this in mind, showing selfless compassion is indeed a type of love. Those ancient Greeks were wise indeed. I have been recognizing, and trying to show as well, patience and kind dealings when I am out on errands or seeking to fill a need. Another simple step to take is buying locally and supporting those local businesses that are run by families, friends, and neighbors, whether a clothing store or auto shop. It’s great to have the world’s products accessible from your computer, but Amazon won’t walk back to the rack to get you the proper size or offer to see if they have your size in purple too. This is simply good customer service, but it seems many have forgotten how far it can go in making people feel appreciated.

Here are a few other examples of kindness and consideration, mostly shown to me by others.

When my car’s brakes starting scraping I called Junior’s Tires and had a kind and patient man take the time to tell me how they would evaluate, estimate, and share possible needed repairs. When I asked when they opened, hoping to drop my car off after taking my son to school, about 7:45 a.m., he said they opened at 8 a.m. but if I was 15-20 minutes early, that would still be okay—people would be there and I could come in as the door would be open. This kind of accommodation and considerate customer service no doubt has engendered loyalty and repeat customers.

Another example of much appreciated kindness resulted from a hasty trip to the grocery store to buy flowers for a friend when I realized I had missed her birthday by a day. It was a brisk 12 degrees out, and though I had been driving my car for about 10-15 minutes, the heat wasn’t really making a dent in the car’s cold air. Despite knowing flowers need special care in freezing conditions, I was in a rush and therefore justified that they should be okay if I quickly dashed to my car. 

But then Louis at Family Fare rang up my blooms and took the time to grab a floral sleeve, adding a colorful and protective layer, and also tucked a bag over the flowers’ tops to protect them from the biting cold. He told me it was his thing, taking the time to properly wrap flower purchases, and that if his manager thought he took a little longer with customers than other clerks, maybe too long, well, it was something important to him to do. 

I couldn’t believe my luck! If only Louis knew the backstory and how I, a one-time floral designer, knew how vital it is to care for flowers heading out into the cold of winter. 

I told him that I truly appreciated his thoroughness, and I really wanted to acknowledge this kind man, so I paused despite feeling rushed, glanced at his name tag and said, “Thank you, Louis, I truly appreciate your efforts.” What a simple thing too, just to use a person’s name, as everyone needs to be seen and appreciated. However basic their work may seem, those assisting us—whether clerk, waiter, or auto shop worker—should not be disregarded. 

Later, I thought how interesting it was that my intention and need dovetailed with Louis’ standards and efforts. What he did truly was important to me, and no doubt others who bought flowers and were lucky enough to have Louis give them some tender loving care.

That’s the thing about TLC, it’s easy to show and can, and should, grace all our human interactions, because we all need a little extra love these days.