Shine When No One’s Watching

This wasn’t a TV commercial. No print-ad essay offered sworn testimony from an employee dedicated to customer service.

I saw something better. Something REAL.

One day before Christmas, I stopped to check my coat buttons and grab all the straps of the canvas shopping bags.

One of the supervisors of the floral department greeted a preschooler. She presented him a mylar Christmas balloon on a stick. The child gasped and slowly accepted the present. A surprised parent quizzed his offspring. Reading lips, I could see the youngster swore that someone gave it to him. “I didn’t take it!”

Then, the florist called and confirmed that the balloon was a gift. Two people left the store amazed.

I was the third.

These were not cheap balloons sporting the company logo. This wasn’t an advertised promotion. Plus, these were departing shoppers. The chance that they’d double back into the store and buy more seemed remote.

I saw the store “Santa” a week later. I congratulated her. “I’ve got a hunch you might like your job.”

How right I was. She told me how, during vacations, she finds herself thinking of store regulars she hasn’t seen.

Meanwhile, other stores have unsold Christmas balloons wilting in the 75 percent off bin. One free balloon may have won a store two more steady customers for 2013. I am third.

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