The Light of Empathy
On the other hand, to someone who is unable to do them, they are a big deal. I work at The Home Depot. It is my job to help people. I help people everyday, but sometimes I get an opportunity to change or improve someone’s life.
A few days ago I met a lady who was recently widowed. Her name was Shirley. She came in and asked if Home Depot could install two light fixtures for her. She had already purchased them from a mail order catalog and showed me the pictures she cut out of her magazine. The truth is that our district is one of few that to don’t install lights or fans. I explained this to her and apologized. I asked if she knew anyone else who could help her. This is when everything changed for me.
She said her husband used to do all these things. She went on to say she had called seven different electricians and no one returned her call. She did not even have a power source where the lights were to be installed because her apartment complex would not allow this. She accepted this and decided she was content to have them hung just for decorations.
When people are asked questions, it is just a reflex to simply answer them. Many people in retail believe their purpose to be just that. I suppose they are not wrong. However, I did not hear a question for which I was to provide an answer. I saw a poor defeated lady who just wanted to improve her surroundings and all it would take was someone willing to care enough about her.
Home Depot does not generally make a practice of going to customer homes to do this kind of thing. Particularly not when it for something they did not buy from us. I wanted to see a good ending for her, and so I asked for her phone number and told her I would call her in an hour. I said, “Shirley I am going to figure this out for you. Go home and wait for my call.”
I got permission from a manager to leave work early and go to her home and take care of this for her. When I called Shirley and told her of this she did not believe me at first. She was overjoyed and could not believe this was going to happen the same day we spoke of it. She asked me how much I charged. I laughed and said “nothing”. She cried and said “Thank you so much”.
I got to her home and put up the lights, but kept thinking how much better it would be if the lights were to work. When I got finished, I asked her to come by the store the next day because I had an idea for how to make the lights work.
The next morning as soon as i got to work, I took two regular light bulbs and glued a battery powered LED light to them. When she came in they were finished. She remarked that this never would have occurred to her. She said,”Tom you are an amazing brilliant man”. To which I replied, “Yes ma’am I really am. How astute of you to see that”. She laughed. She then cried and hugged me and then I cried. She could not have been happier. Sadly my job with her, was done.
I think how tragic it would have been if she had gone to another store or spoke with another associate. I count myself lucky was the person she asked. it is sad to imagine her walking out of the store no better off than she went in. I take great pride in having a job at a company that celebrates this type of initiative and allows me to make this opportunity into a reality.
It doesn’t happen everyday or even every month. Sometimes when I think the things I do are not important or that they don’t matter, I think back to some of the Shirleys or Edies I have encountered. It is then I am fully aware why I do what I do.
I am Tom Nardone, and you are welcome.