Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sorry Charlie!

I have coffee at a coffee shop that is fairly well patronized by many of the local business owners. I've met many of them either through my own gumption or through introduction. I would even go so far as to say I am friends with quite a few. Well almost all of them....all except a particular insurance agent that we will call Charlie. Charlie is a gruff individual who never smiles and rarely returns a "Good Morning" when it is offered to him.

Despite his difficult demeanor I have never once shied away from giving it the old Ripple try to break through and finally get through to the guy. I say hello and smile every single time I see him. I hold the door for him when I see him coming into the coffee shop. I even once found myself in his building visiting another client and helped his assistant get a rather large package from the mailbox into his office to which he never looked up nor acknowledged either of us.

Then one day last week it happened. He caught me at the coffee shop. I was on the phone negotiating the terms of a speaking agreement and good 'ol Charlie walked up. He clearly wanted to talk to me for some reason, despite my obvious involvement in a fairly complex conversation. He didn't budge. The more I talked the more he didn't seem to take the hint that this was not going to be a quick phone call.

As I continued to try and wrap up my call he edged closer and hmm hmm'd a few times. I motioned to him that this was clearly a lengthy call and covered the receiver and told him as much. He just stood there. Minutes clicked by and he just kept staring at me as if his glare would somehow magically cause the person on the other end of the line to hang up.

When my call finally ended I tried to hide my annoyance at the intrusion. I asked him what he wanted and he proceeded to tell me that he noticed my car didn't bare any sign of whom I was doing my insurance through. I said that was right. He asked who I was with and I told him to which he proceed to insult the company and in turn me for choosing them. He then said, "Listen business is way down and I need to get some more people through my door. I hear you know a lot of people so I was wondering if I could show you a savings on your home and auto insurance would you introduce me around to some of your friends and family?"

Now I have no idea if Charlie reads my BLOG and to be perfectly honest I don't really care. As you can imagine I politely told him sorry Charlie I wasn't interested. To which he easily slipped on his gruff demeanor and said, "if you ever get in a wreck good luck with those yahoos you're with."

I wasn't interest not because I couldn't help him. Not because I don't know plenty of people looking for a good deal on their insurance. Certainly not because I don't want to help a fellow entrepreneur. No, I couldn't help Charlie because Charlie hadn't helped himself. How many times had he failed to even acknowledge me or anyone else for that matter? It was only when he absolutely needed something i.e. MORE BUSINESS that I even appeared on his radar.

I've said it before and I will say it again....we as professionals and as just straight up human beings are always on! The way we respond and treat others EVERYDAY does create Ripples that will some how some way come back to all of us. Take that forth into your day and remember you get back exactly what you put in. So perhaps you may want to put in a little extra today! Especially you Charlie!

Ripple On!!!


Thom Singer said...

This is a great reminder why everyone should at least be polite to others. You never know when, like Charlie, you might need the assistance of others.

Nobody will help an ass... not even Mr. Ripple !!!

Thanks for the reminder to always be interested in others... NOT just when you need their help!

Anonymous said...

How true! I have been in that predicament myself (your position/not Charlie's). It's almost worth the look you see on someone's face when they realize YOU'RE the person they actually need! Especially when they've berated you for little to no reason at all.

Charlie (and those like him) has forgotten one simple truth: if you're a jerk, there's no hope for you, because wherever you go the jerk (YOU!) is always there!

Classic example. Thank you.

Beth Bridges said...

And yet somehow, people like this are doing *some* business. I always wonder who their customers are? That part mystifies me. Maybe it's the same people who buy from the internet spammers? Maybe they have the same manners (i.e. none) so they don't notice?

I don't know, but I suspect that in their world, *you're* the jerk for not doing business with him. That's very sad.