Remember the days?

By: Dr. Jeff Fuller

When you called a business, the person on the other end was live and normally from the town in which the business existed.  You were talking to someone who was in the business you were calling and could get information immediately and they knew something about the product.

Now, you are not going to reach a live person.  You will call the number and be instructed: Press 1 for English…you are connected with someone who has such a thick accent, you cannot understand them.  You may connect with someone and they will need to call you back with the answer to your question (most likely you never receive a return phone call).

For several years I worked for Harco Drug.  I was taught the three golden rules of customer service: one, the customer is the most important person, at all times; two, the customer is always right; three, make sure the customer is smiling when they leave the store.

We always acknowledged the customer.  If we were walking along an aisle, it was appropriate to always say two important things: “Hello,” and “If I may assist you in finding something, do not hesitate to ask.”  Sometimes these personal greetings where in various forms, such as: “Howdy,” “How’s Susie!” “Going to the game tonight?” “Did you see the item you have in your hand is on sale, in our brand.”  “Hey, can I help you?”

Ready to close, at 9:00 P.M., we would lock the door at 9:00 P.M.  It would not be locked at fifteen minutes before the hour, but at 9:00.  Customers in the store before the door was locked at closing time, they were not harassed or hurried, but allowed to shop until they were done.

Phone calls were never hurried.  If some called the store, we answered, “Harco Drug.  This is Jeff.”  If it was someone who knew the person answering, then the conversation would go along the lines of natural conversation.

We had an in-house celebrity at our store.  She was in charge of the pharmacy counter, so most calls were answered by her.  Her name was Betty Cook.

“Hello, Harco Drug, this is Betty,” she would answer on the first ring.

The customer on the other end might say, “Betty, how are you?”

“Just fine,” she would reply, “It was awfully cold this morning.  I think it was around 42 degrees on the mountain…”

“Oh my, girl, it was cold as well water over here in Wills Valley.  Betty, how is Jeff doing?”

“Let me see,” as she stood on her tiptoes, looking over the counters, “hold on a minute and let me get him.”

She would put the phone on hold and yell, “Jeff, telephone!”

I would drop what I was doing on the paper goods aisle and go to the nearest phone.

“Hello, this is Jeff.  How can I help you?”

“Jeff? Is that really you?”

“Yes ma’am, this is Jeff.  How may I help you?

She covered the receiver and yelled at someone in the house, “Fred, come quick, I got Jeff on the phone.”

“Excuse me, but Fred just loves you and has wanted to talk to you for so long…” she covers the receiver again and yells, louder, “Fred git ya’self in here, now.”

After a few seconds, a male voice says, “Hey Jeff, thanks for talking to me.  What is that Zebco you use over on Weiss Lake?”

I pause to think for a moment, “My Zebco is from 1979.  It is a Skirted Spinning Reel. But over in the case, we have the newer model, 7025, weighing only 13 ounce.  I can check the price…”

Fred said, “Is this not Jeff Cook from the Alabama Band?”

“No sir, this is Jeff Fuller at Harco Drug, and do you want me to check on the price…”

“Doggone woman,” Fred growls to his wife where I can hear the other words which follow, and then, “Jeff,” his wife said, “have a good day.”

The phone clicks.  The line is dead.

Betty comes around the corner of the fishing supply aisle and asked, “Were you able to help her out?”

“No ma’am, they wanted to speak to your Jeff that plays music and fishes, not the Jeff that works with you and sells your Jeff his fishing reels and rods.”

Until next time…

(Dr. Jeff Fuller is pastor of Rockford Baptist Church.  You may reach him through the church office at 256-377-4900 or by email at

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