We sell beer for profit, which of course, is not a surprise to you. We’re a micro business that exists in a neighborhood full of personalities. This means that sometimes those personalities wander in and they aren’t buying beer or anything else that you sell, for that matter.
One of the terrific things about The Whistle specifically is that all of the employees understand empathy and have no trouble lending a hand when they can. One year, however, I had an employee that couldn’t quite grasp the subtleties and importance of kind human interactions.
In the dead of winter it is absolutely frigid on the floor of The Whistle. From time to time it is so cold out that I must pull the big door down and request that people use the glass door because if I left our garage door open we might have frozen beer. Such was the case on a stunningly cold day last February.
An older lady that I had never seen before stumbled into the store and looked highly disoriented. I walked out of the office and noticed that her face was bright red, she was clenching her hands and she was near to tears.
“I can’t walk anymore!” she gasped.
“Here”, I said as I pointed to the bench near the door, “sit down.”
It turned out that she had been inside of her apartment for days and was feeling a little stir crazy so she decided to go for a walk. But, as she walked, she lost track of exactly where she was and then became very, very cold. She asked if she could use my phone to call her friend, which I let her do and I suggested that she just sit still and wait inside to take the chill off.
Within a half hour or so someone came along to pick her up and off she went. “Why would you let her stay in here? She wasn’t buying beer.” My employee said.
“True,” I answered, “but it never hurts us to just be kind.” I paused and then added, “In fact, I’m of the belief that the more of that we do the better off we are.”
He shrugged and carried on with his day. Eventually he decided that The Whistle wasn’t the place for him and I agreed. We ended our acquaintance amiably, and I hoped that in his future endeavors he learned that compassion is never something we can afford to discard.