splash image
You are currently viewing a message from the archive.
Go back to Archive Messages.

"Since it's just a rabbit, there won't be any charge."

The Rare Mongolian Rabbit

July 1st 2011

Compassion is a critical component to successful customer service and to successful organizations. We know what compassion is but how does it apply to the work place? Today's story provides a wonderful example.

Food For Our Rabbit

Perhaps the frequency with which it so often happens nowadays should have lessened the pain; misery does love company, after all. but hearing that my husband's job would be "Phased out" was unforgettable and shocking.

John, my husband of ten years, expressed his concern over the nightmare occurrence. he assured me that he would do everything possible to get a job to provide for our family. With three children under the age of five and one due very shortly, we relied on his income entirely.

"Life goes on," John said, more outwardly upbeat than I over the situation. "We have our health, and after all, it's only a job. Besides, the company will continue paying me for three more months. I'll surely have a new job by then. Just relax and don't worry."

With his excellent university and professional credentials, I figured he must be right. He was a former Olympic athlete and knew about taking on a challenge. His father died when John was young, so he took on the responsibility of keeping his mother, sister, and brothers together. My husband knew how to work hard and smart. But as the months passed and no job possibilities materialized for him, I grew more and more fearful. What if he couldn't find a job? Under other circumstances I could have returned to classroom teaching, but our fourth child was due in less than three months.

With little money in our savings account, the mortgage payment two months behind, and no possible income from any other source, I whittled away at our daily-living budget.

Eventually our food budget became almost nonexistent. One day while in the supermarket with my children, I noticed a young box boy packing overly ripe fruit and outdated food inot cardboard boxes. Hesitantly, I inquired about the destination of the food. "We sell it real cheap, and whatever isn't sold is thrown away," he said. I eyed the aging carrots, celery, and tomatoes. Food we could use for weeks. What, I wondered, is the proper etiquette for begging for food for one's children?

"We have a rare Mongolian rabbit!" I heard myself blurt out, glancing at my three hungry children. "I'd be interested in purchasing the food for the rabbit."

He replied easily, "Since it's just a rabbit, there won't be any charge."

That day he loaded five boxes of produce into my car. We talked while he worked, me sharing information about my soon-to-be-expanding family and him talking about his. His name was Jeff. I learned he came from a family of five where finances were tight. This job helped pay for his college education.

Weeks went by, and Jeff began packing the boxes with outdated or damaged items - peanut butter, soup, and cheese - that were otherwise still good but would be thrown away. "Surely a rare rabbit would eat all these items," he said, explaining their inclusion. As the weeks turned into months, we discovered, hidden under the produce, laundry detergent, milk, juice, butter . . . the list goes on and on.

Jeff started phoning me every time he had a box of "rabbit food" ready. Now and then, he brought the boxes to our home. He vever inquired after the rabbit, content instead to leave its food and be on his way.

When our fourth daughter was born, my elation was tinged with worry about our financial future. However, as fate would have it, my husband slipped into the hospital room and said, "I have good news and sad news. The good news is that this morning I've been offered a very exciting job." I closed my eyes with deep gratitude in my heart. "The sad news," he continued, "is that the rare Mongolian rabbit is gone."

It turned out Jeff no longer worked at the supermarket. While I'd been busy with the birth of our new baby, he had moved, the manager said, and left no forwarding address.

Over the next ten years I made good on a silent promise I had made to repay the kindness of all who had helped us throughout that difficult time. But my thanks were incomplete. Then one day, a decade later, there was Jeff standing in the store's office. i noticed the title MANAGER on his name badge.

How does one adequately thank the person who offers assistance without compromising you pride, extends a hand without sapping your strength, and believes in the rare Mongolian rabbits hiding somewhere in each of our lives? I'm not surprised Jeff's risen up the ranks. He has a rare gift. he knew how to listen loudly to my special plea.

"Mrs. Nunn!" he exclaimed, "I think of you and your family often. How is the rabbit?" he inquired softly.

Taking Jeff's hands into mine, I whispered with a wink, "Thanks for asking. The rabbit moved on long ago, and we couldn't be better."

By Maureen Nunn

John Lubbock said; "What we see depends mainly on what we look for."

I encourage all of us to see what others may quietly be asking for under the camouflage of a rare rabbit. When it comes to your clients, customers or colleagues, if you are looking, you'll be able to recognize when and where you can make a difference.

Be generous with compassionate service and watch your business grow through increased loyalty from your existing customers and through the referrals they provide. Be generous with compassionate service to your colleagues and watch the culture of your organization evolve into one highlighted by a spirit of cooperation.

Yes, the character trait of compassion can transform your organization!