We’re quick to point out how a person or company does something that we deem wrong. But how often do we compliment them on things they do right?
For me it all started with an inexpensive Timex wristwatch that I used to own. It cost less than $20 and ran perfectly—like a Swiss watch–for about 12 years before falling into disrepair. “Timex should know about this,” I told my lovely wife Rebekah. “They need to know how long their product lasted and how well it performed.”
So I wrote them a letter, one of those things people used to do back in the day when television sets had tubes and people at dinner tables talked to each other instead of checking their iPhones.
“You folks ought to be proud,” I began. “This watch had an amazing run and I want to personally thank you. I will probably buy another one.”
I didn’t tell them a few of my friends had scoffed when I purchased my “cheap watch,” asserting it would not last a year.
I knew they were into style over function, and let the argument lie.
Today, of course, old people seem to be the only ones who wear wristwatches.
In a couple of months I received a “thank you” letter from Timex, Inc. and a brochure showcasing their new line of timepieces. I was probably overly optimistic that they’d send me a new watch – but at least it was nice hearing from them.
Hot sauce maven: I once discovered a delicious hot sauce called Mrs. Renfro’s.
The jar showed a matronly-looking women with a checkered apron working in a kitchen. I knew I was going to have to write.
“It’s probably owned by Exxon Mobil and there is no little old lady named Mrs. Renfro,” opined my wife.
“We’ll see,” I countered, and swiftly wrote the letter. It wasn’t too many weeks before I received a personal “thank you,” signed by Mrs. Renfro herself, along with photos of her and brochures describing the company’s salsa and many other products.
“She does exist!” I exclaimed. But alas, no free hot sauce.
Locally, I offered kudos to an auto repair shop for their reliable service on my car. And on a couple of occasions they told me that items I had requested, such as oil and air filters, were not needed. I appreciate that kind of integrity.
Best pretzels in the world: Most recently, I emailed Snyder’s Pretzels, based in Hanover, Pennsylvania—a company that was founded in 1909.
I told them that as far back as the 1940s when we moved from Pennsylvania to Seward, Alaska, my mother would order their hard pretzels in the large, five gallon can.
We waited for weeks, sometimes months, in anticipation. Back in those days it wasn’t like today’s Amazon that delivers in days.
“Best pretzels in the world,” my mom would declare.
I got my wife hooked on Snyder’s and one day she came home with another brand that she’d haphazardly picked up a the store. We tasted a few, shook our heads and threw them out. “My mom was right,” I said. “You can’t beat Snyder’s.”
I recently heard back from Snyder’s. I was right. People who do good things and who demonstrate pride in their work like to hear from customers. A back pat goes a long way, and I can’t help but think such positive energy prompts people to strive even harder to excel.
And in some way, I bet the positive energy gets paid forward.
Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River with his wife Rebekah, a retired Birchwood ABC Elementary School teacher.