Late Friday afternoon, when the heat was at its most stifling, I was trying to hang a “Welcome Home” sign out in the yard for my high schooler, who was returning from a three-week trip out of the country. I had tools, string, banner, tape all over my driveway, and I was miserable in the humidity.
So when my neighbor pulled up in his truck to say hello, I didn’t hesitate to open the passenger door and hop in to take advantage of the air conditioning. I don’t know that he expected me to make myself comfortable in his vehicle — he probably was going to pass along greetings and be back on his way — but we ended up having a very nice conversation.
In fact, he told me that he had done errands that day and made sure he picked up candy. “Candy?”, I asked, because there is always a good tale about candy. “Well,” he said, “I guess you know I’m called The Candy Man.”
But I didn’t know that and told him I needed to know the reason. It seems that Mr. Murphy (not his real name, of course) used to go to his bank every week to cash his paycheck. Every week, the bank tellers would look at his check first, then greet him by the name on the check and ask for his identification. Every week, he would go in at around the same time, see the same tellers and they still would have to look at his check for his name and still ask for identification. Now Mr. Murphy thought that in a town like Huntersville, he should have a better relationship with his bank tellers.
So one day, he brought them peppermint candies. And the next week, he noticed that the tellers’ faces lit up when he came in with more candies. And the next week, they greeted him by name. And the next week, the tellers called out, “The Candy Man is here!” And they stopped asking for his identification.
Through the years, as tellers have come and gone or gotten married or had kids, Mr. Murphy has become part of the weekly banking routine — even the periodic newcomers know of “The Candy Man”.
The fact is that we all like to be recognized. Even if it’s a familiar face we see in Target every so often, a smile of acknowledgement will serve a great purpose. And Mr. Murphy, by simply trying to get good customer service, not only started a tradition that has lasted years, but he has taught others the value of recognition. He’s been a customer of that same bank for over a decade and for that bank, well, that’s a “sweet” reward.