Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vignette - the coolest green

Gelato dream
London, ON, February 2009 [Click all images to embiggen]

About this photo: We're still feeling a bit green. Thematic Photographic turns cloudy at 7:00 EDT tonight, but I thought I'd sneak in another green moment. You can, too, by heading here.
The scene: Angelo's, an eatery/grocery/bakery that's been a fixture in our city for decades. It's a bitterly cold evening, and I've taken the two younger ones out on a neighborhood adventure. It's the weekend, and they've got cabin fever, so we've set off to their favorite place for an experience they couldn't get anywhere else. Oh yes, and we'll bring home some bread.

As they munch their pizza slices - homemade and delicious - I spot the gelato beneath the nearby freezer-display case. I take the camera out of its bag and meander over there. I ask the server if he'd mind. He smiles and tells me to have fun.

As I'm shooting, I'm approached by two women, one of whom says I need to have permission to take pictures. I politely tell her I did and point out the helpful young man who granted me said permission. As she playfully wags her finger at him, I explain why I shoot the things I do - including the usual words like "obsession" and "addiction". She smiles broadly, introduces herself as Caroline, the owner, and we chat about what an amazing place her store is.

Midway through our conversation, Noah wanders over and says he's thirsty in the sad little voice of a deprived eight-year-old. Caroline immediately asks him what he wants - a slushie - and she heads off to make up two for him and his sister. She refuses to charge for them, and continues to banter with the three of us as if she's known us forever. We talk about kids, life in London and the joys of working in a city that offers up moments like this.

I can see other patrons smiling as they watch the exchange, and watch our thankfully well-behaved kids enjoy their surprise treat. If we weren't already fans of Angelo's, this moment would have turned us around. Kindness takes many forms, and we were privileged that night to cross paths with someone who clearly exemplifies it in everything she does.

I see many similar visits in our future.

Your turn: A local business that made/makes a difference. Please discuss.

6 comments: said...

take pictures, sheesh! said...

I missed out the word "permission"

Mojo said...

Oh that's an easy one. Young's Tree Service has saved my bacon more times than I like to think about. Here's a guy who shows up when he says he will (a novelty for this type of business) does exactly the job he says he will, and doesn't fabricate opportunities to squeeze an extra dollar out of you. His crew is quick, and efficient, leaves the job site clean and from all outward appearances, seems to genuinely like working for the company. And he's damned reasonable in his pricing too compared to other similar outfits in town. Honestly, other than perhaps volume, I was at a loss to explain how the guy could make any money. (Turns out he was skating pretty close to the edge -- a little too close in fact, and wound up in bankruptcy court. Thankfully, it appears he's going to survive.)

But he seems to have grasped a fundamental concept that some service-based companies have missed. In any service industry, if you have a good experience, you'll tell your friends. If you have an exceptionally good experience, you'll tell your friends and anybody who asks. But have a bad experience and you'll tell everybody you know and anybody else who will listen.

My first experience with the company was in December of 2002. We got hammered with a wicked ice storm that had trees and branches snapping off all over town. And I'm talking about mighty trees. In other words, there more work to go around than any time since Hurricane Fran. In such situations, some less scrupulous tree services will see a chance to jack up their prices. Young didn't. Not only did he keep his pricing at its pre-storm level, also kept to the schedule he'd promised. Which under the circumstances I found amazing. At my house, eleven trees were totaled and at least that many more damaged to the point of needing an arborist. One of these was a red oak tree than must have been close to 100 feet tall and a good 48 inches in diameter. And none of the trees was in a particularly convenient location either. Total tab for the whole job was just under $1100 USD. In case you don't have a sense of scale for such things, the lowest estimate I got for taking out a similarly sized willow oak (that's a willow oak. One. Singular.) was double that price. And the other estimates climbed as high as $4800 USD. And that was in 1998 -- so add on four years' worth of inflation to that quote.

So if you live in Raleigh and need a tree guy, this is the guy to call. If you're not sure if you need a tree guy, he's still the guy to call. Because he'll tell you straight up if it needs to go, needs some work or -- best of all -- if it doesn't need anything at all.

This is a guy who gets it.

kenju said...

Caroline is a very smart business woman!!

Thanks for the tip, Mojo.

Martha said...

I came over to check out this week's theme and just had to comment on this entry.

We recently had a very similar experience at a well loved restaurant. The owner was impressed with our well behaved children, the careful documentation of our experience through the camera lens and just by how much fun we were having as a family.

He came over to talk to us several times and also caught him just staring at us a lot, LOL!

After our meal he brought us a huge platter of this dreamy chocolaty fudge, whipped cream, cake creation free of charge!

I wish all businesses had the same kind of personal customer service we were both lucky enough to have the rare experience of enjoying.

Anonymous said...

My favorite business is my local Zombies 'n Things. I can get fresh brains at any time of night, and often spleens and livers are available upon request.
You would think that these things would cost an arm and a leg, but, even arms and legs are reasonably priced.

Betty Crocker