If you ask someone about their children or their grandchildren, you invariably hear the phrase, “They are doing well.” What they usually mean is that they are doing well financially, or that they have just purchased a new car or a beautiful home, or maybe received a job promotion. Our measure of success is usually centered on money, material things, or the
accolades that this world has to offer. “My son, Bill is a doctor and just built a second home in the country. He’s doing very well!” “Linda is a professor
and just published her first book. We hope she will be tenured soon. She has done so well.”
How often does someone say, “My son shows a remarkable ability to demonstrate compassion and love toward the people he works with. He is doing well.” Or “My daughter is so kind and caring. She has really made something of her life.”
I read an article, many years ago now, in the Courant, written by Tom Crowley. It was in Saturday’s, “As I See It,” column. It was about a man
Joe ran a coffee truck that sat outside one of Hartford’s
oldest and largest insurance companies. He made a great cup of coffee, but it wasn’t just the coffee that kept him in business.
Crowley writes: Joe remembers. He remembers your name, your wife’s name, your kids’ names and what you drank yesterday, last week, last month and last year.
He remembers your diet and your attempts at changing what you eat and drink over the years. He hands you some truck coffee, and it’s perfect.
At the insurance company, real people do not answer the phone any more. There is a push-button system of choices that take you down a path far away from people until you get tired and go away. If you try to hit zero, you
get a recording that says that selection is wrong or unavailable.
If you are lucky, you may get a nice person from India, Ireland or Canada. Maybe even Georgia. They will listen patiently, record the conversation and try to get off the phone quickly. They are actually rewarded for getting you OFF the phone as soon as possible.
Every morning, you are drawn to Joe’s truck. You stay close by and sip your coffee with real cream and talk to Joe. Joe is listening and responding, steadily and accurately, to about four or five people at once. He has no trouble keeping up. His short, positive comments make you feel good. That’s because Joe cares and is really listening to you.
Crowley goes on to tell how he has changed jobs many times, relocated to the South for three years and now lives in Boston. He was in town recently and went to Joe’s truck. Listen to him tell the rest of the story.
One morning in December 2004, while in Hartford on business, I approached the old stainless steel truck and lost myself in the comfort of the crowd. Joe stood there in the cold, without gloves. I held back and watched him work until he spotted me.
“Hey Tommy! How’s it going? You back from the South for a while? Where you workin’ now? You look good! Working out? Been fishin’ lately? Here you go, medium coffee, light, two sugars. It’s good to see you again!”
Thanks, Joe. Best of luck to you. You are truly one of the great men of New England.
In this increasingly impersonal world we need more people like Joe. More people who remember our names and care about our job and our struggles and our joys.
Is he truly one of the great men of New England? Certainly not in the world’s eyes. But in the eyes of God, I think he might be. For Joe knows how to love. Our God cares little about worldly wealth or success.
He wants to know how well we have loved. So if you want to do well in this world, reject the common standards. Learn how to love and the best place to do that—maybe the only place in the long run—is at the feet of the master, Jesus Christ.
Grace and Peace,