After retirement, my wife and I lived in Sunset Beach, North Carolina for fifteen years. While there, I became friends with Sam who was the owner of a thriving Hardware, Garden Center and Real Estate & Rental Agency. I suppose one could characterize him as a ‘good old boy’ since his attire was usually overalls and denim shirt, and with a baseball cap perched on his head.
At first glance, it was hard to believe that he was the boss because most of his employees were dressed better than he. When I went into his store for a couple of items, it was not unusual to spend an hour or so reminiscing with him about the good old days.
Once, he related a true story to me. A non-resident Homeowner called one day and ordered one yard of gravel and wanted it delivered immediately. Sam explained that all his drivers were busy with other deliveries and he would send the gravel as soon as possible. The man became indignant and demanded service right now! Sam told him that he would do what he could to deliver as soon as possible.
Hanging up the phone, he told Marie, his wife and bookkeeper, to look after the store and he would deliver the order himself. He went into the yard and loaded the gravel on the spare truck with the front end loader and drove across the floating draw-bridge and onto the Island.
The Homeowner was standing if front of his ocean-front cottage when Sam arrived. He had no more than gotten out of the truck cab until the man lit in on him. He began cussing about the poor service from people and businesses in the South and especially in and around Sunset Beach. “My time is much too valuable to wait around until the spirit moves some country bumpkin to do what I’m paying him for.”
Sam merely dumped the load of gravel in the designated spot and then turned to the man and said, “I know what you mean and I’ll agree with you 100 percent. I’ve never seen such sorry service than these folks around here provide.
People like you and me are not used to such bad service. Up North, people jumped when we hollered.” “Y’see, the only reason I’m driving this truck is to try to make enough money to move if things get any worse.”
The man paid him for the gravel and then asked him to wait for a couple of minutes before leaving. He went into the house. When he came back out, he shook Sam’s hand and handed him two twenty dollar bills and said, “I hope this helps.”
After relating this to me, Sam quoted an old saying; “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Sam’s ability to correlate with folks of any background leaves no doubt of his success as a businessman.
I’m glad to call him my friend.