It really is the little things that make our days. We all have the moments we enjoy throughout the day that enrich our life — the first cup of coffee with the newspaper that is waiting to be read; coming home after a long day and being greeted by a happy pet.
The relationships we build with people offer moments of happiness each day too. I have the opportunity each day to watch small business people in our community offer a piece of themselves to every person they serve. Regardless if the small business offers services, sells a specialty product, serves food or sells clothing and goods, they take care to know their customers. Many of our members have served generations of customers.
When I was 8 years old, my family moved about 30 minutes out of town. We sold our Ford Elite and bought a 1978 Subaru, which my dad researched to be the most fuel efficient. The “Soob” became the family car. That is when we first met Del Harley, the mechanic in town that knew all about Subarus. Almost 40 years later, Del and his family-centered business are still taking care of us.
Del or his brother Darrell rescued me on many occasions.
In high school, my parents bought me a 1978 Subaru of my own. Dad was convinced there was rust damage coming, so he found a clear rust protection that he smeared all over the light tan car. It went on clear, but it dried a nice brown. And it would not come off. I was grateful for the car even if it was goofy. The permanent brown streaks were conversation starters. And no one in my high school ever accused me of being spoiled. Del could not fix this car problem, but he did shake his head at my dad, and that was enough for me.
After a couple of wrecks, the brown streaks were totaled and we bought another Subaru. It looked sharp, but sometimes the engine would not quit running when I shut it off. Del knew I was working two jobs and going to school full time and I did not have the money to repair the car, so he found the perfect sized rock and showed me right where to hit to make the engine shut off. My brother drove around with the rock after he inherited the car.
Twenty years later, during my carpool days, my car began pulling to the right when it went over 40 mph. I noticed after a couple of days that it also was making a strange sound. After another couple of days, another motorist noticed an obstruction under my car.
I pulled over with a car full of children (some easily embarrassed middle schoolers), and realized that there was a large glider seat cushion under the entire length of the car. I tried to pull it off and then cut if off, but it had melted on the undercarriage; it wasn’t going anywhere. Calling Harley’s very upset, I told them I had run over a seat cushion and needed help. Darrell’s deadpan response was, “Was anybody sitting on it?” He diffused the situation and called Purcell who had to take a blow-torch to get the cushion off.
Del has taken care of out of town family members who were stranded with vehicle issues, he has even helped me deal with a grandparent when it was time that he quit driving. He has been involved in every significant stage of my life.
Then over Christmas break this year, he stopped in the middle of a routinely crazy day, allowed my 17-year-old son to pull in the garage and he patiently showed him how to change a headlight bulb – something my dad would have loved to have taught Nicholas.
I left there feeling overwhelmed at how fortunate I was to have people like this come full circle in my life twice. And whenever I think of small business owners and watch what they do for our community, I remember that feeling.
It occurs to me that the little things are not little at all.
By Candance Brake President and CEO Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce