Saturday, March 22, 2008

What Brown Does for Me

Meet Tony. He's our UPS man and he's the best, bar none.

Tony should be the poster boy for excellent service. UPS has no idea what a glittering diamond they found when they hired Tony some years ago. It's because of Tony that my wife and I would never even consider using another shipping service. Besides being the nicest guy in Queens, Tony actually cares about his customers. We have several elderly shut-ins within our apartment building and Tony never hesitates to bring deliveries directly to their apartment doors after waiting what must seem endless hours for them to answer his rap at their doors.

FedEx? DHL?
Forgettaboutit. In our vestibule hangs 4 Fedex delivery notices. Why? Because Fedex once left a package without a signature on a windowsill in our lobby without telling anyone. The package contained valuables and cash and was stolen.The recipient blamed our super for stealing the package which, was not true. So, with good reason our super refuses to accept packages from Fedex. If Fedex drivers actually cared about their customers the way Tony does people in our building would be getting their deliveries on time. And DHL? All I can say is, how the hell DHL is still in business is a mystery to me.

Don't tell UPS but Tony has my cell phone number and I his. If I have a last minute package to ship I can ring him up and he's usually at my front door by the time I hang up the phone. He's like the character Radar on the T.V. show M*A*S*H. When I input a delivery pick-up on the UPS web site, once again Tony rings our bell seconds after I click, "confirm pickup". How the heck does he do it?

Last year Tony stopped coming around. His replacement was a nice enough guy but he wasn't our Tony. We asked what happened to Tony and was told that he was out sick with a bad back or something. Weeks then months went by and finally one spring day Tony rang our bell with a delivery. "Come on up Tony!" I said excitedly through the intercom. When I opened the door I didn't recognize the man before me. Tony was changed. His face was different. He gained a lot of weight but what hadn't changed was Tony's spirit: vibrant and energized. "Tony, where you been man?" I asked. "I was real sick Bruce, real sick. I went through endless rounds of
Chemotherapy and doctor's visits. But everything is going to be all right. I'm back, I'm driving, I'm free!"

It's been about a year since Tony's recovery and he's healthy and in great spirits. We see him more often too, as my wife has scheduled daily pick-ups for her hat business. When we don't have a pick-up for Tony I usually see him all over the neighborhood when I'm on my training runs. "Hey Tony! How's it going?" I yell to him. Tony honks his horn, steps out of his brown truck with a tower of packages and says, "Hey Bruce! How's it going? Am I gonna' see you and Terry later? Have a good one."

Doing business doesn't mean that we do not have to care or be interested in those that we transact with. I care about Tony and I like to think that tony cares about my wife and myself. In fact, I know that he does. Nobody can be that sincere and not mean it. I like to think of Tony as a spiritual guide in a brown uniform. He demonstrates that it's not what you do for a living but how you do it. Driving for UPS is a good job so I hear. It must be, their drivers all seem so happy. And the longer you're with the company the more money you get paid. But I have an inclination that Tony would be Tony and would deliver excellent service with that 100 watt smile of his, even if he never received a pay raise. You see, Tony has a natural propensity for kindness and that kindness comes from deep within. And no matter the weather, the weight of his packages or the his physical condition, Tony will always be kind.

Thank you Tony. Whatever UPS is paying you it's not enough.

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