I haven’t seen Charles in a month of Sundays, but even before he turned my direction after I called out “Sir Charles” to him in the parking lot, I could feel the effect of his friendly smile. Handshakes, a hug and a brief conversation ensued in the parking lot of a Kroger grocery in League City, TX. I told him that I continued to tell the world about him and that any time that I spoke in the community and referenced him, at least a couple people in the audience knows him. He smiled in an “aww shucks” sort of way.
Charles is a stocker. But that is only a job title. What he does is connect people to the store at which he has worked for many years. He does it by smiling, caring, conversing and helping out. Ask him where anything is, and he can tell you. But, you likely won’t have a chance to ask because he can see a lost look in a customer’s eyes and is quick to say, “Hello, can I help you?”
I wrote about Charles more than a decade ago for my Listen to Life newsletter, and his story appeared in my book, Listen to Life: Wisdom in Life’s Stories. His is on page 99 if you have the book. I have shared the wisdom of his ways since we first met. I told him the other day that I still share his story. In fact, I had used his story just a few days ago in a team development workshop that I conducted for a local nonprofit.
The conversation continued in the store when I returned to bring him another copy of the book. I asked how his mom was doing. We used to talk about her when I would see him on my grocery runs. She died five years ago, he said. I couldn’t believe how long it had been since we had conversed. He said his mom was proud of him for being in the book. I felt badly that it had been so long and I was years late in sharing my condolences.
I’m glad that I was in the parking lot when I was, that Charles was getting out of his car while I drove by, and that we had a chance to talk. I’m even glad that fate served to remind me how important it is to stay in contact with people, no matter how you know them. A month of Sundays is much too long.