Southern Way

Southern Way

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Going That Extra Mile

My Daddy always told me the "customer is always right". He was all about customer service in his drug store. I can remember him sending his delivery boy over to the house of one of his customers to deliver a crate of Coca-Colas. When the delivery boy was late coming back, Dad inquired if there was an issue. "No sir," George responded, "Miss Wood wanted me to bring back her crate of used bottles for the deposit".  "Well, that makes sense, and, that took an extra thirty minutes?" "No sir. But going around her back porch and the pool to pick up all the bottles did." Dad never questioned that. If that was what the customer wanted, so be it.

Mrs. McGee who lived around the corner commented one day that it sure would be nice if he would carry Coburg milk in addition to ice cream, to save her a trip to the store. The next week, Dad called the Coburg man and asked if he could drop a quart of milk by the store each week, even though Daddy carried Pet ice cream. Mrs. McGee was thrilled to find a quart of Coburg milk waiting for her every week.

He had one customer, Mrs. Erlene Finch, who would call once a week with a list of what she needed in addition to her medicine. And, she was most particular, but since she was fairly consistent Dad just made sure he always had on hand the items she requested. Each week her standard order consisted of 2 cartons of Pall Mall Menthol 100's, a case of Pepsi (as in the wooden crate of bottles), 2 rolls of toilet paper (pink), 2 bars Camay soap (a pink and 1 white), 1 roll of Rolaids,  and 1 roll each of Lifesavers in Butter Rum and Spearmint. Since Camay only came in pink, we figured out early, she wanted a bar of Camay and a bar of Ivory. Sprinkled in the weekly order were an assortment of laxatives, cough drops, pencils, band aids, rubbing alcohol and, basically I think, whatever came to her mind.

Every other week, she would add the latest edition of Look magazine and once month she would order a box of Coty powder in Ivory Cream, Revlon Eterna 27 Lotion, and a box of Calgon Bath Beads. She would  also give a list of greeting cards she needed when the occasion arose. And, we were spared no detail. She had confidence that we would know just the card to send to her aging Aunt Mildred, who was turning 94 and still lived in the same house she and her true love Ernest, who had passed away 5 years prior, built 65 years ago on land her Daddy gave her. Or one for her 6 year old niece Katie, who played "Some Where Over the Rainbow" in her piano recital that same year, however "Miss" Erlene did not make it to the recital because her back was acting up. 

Most of the customers I knew. However, some of these more eccentric ones who always called in, I never met in person, just spoke with them on the phone or knew them by reputation only. Sometimes, it was only the delivery boys who met them in person. They would come back with stories about the customers that we swore they had to made up.  I often threatened to ride with them one day just meet these characters in person. But, I never did. In a way I was scared I would be disappointed. 

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