I was reminded of something yesterday that I think is worth sharing.
In a former life (the one before diapers, vomit, uncontrollable laughter, taxi-driving, and sooooo much more), I had the opportunity to work at the White House… for the Bush 41 Administration. Drop any ideas of grandeur, I was low, low, low on the totem pole… basically a glorified schlepper. I did get to travel the world, though. In fact, I visited every state (except Alaska), met so many amazing people, saw and heard things (some good – like mesmerizingly beautiful voices singing at a South-Africa squatter’s village, some disturbing – like a haunting trip to Auschwitz Death Camp with the leader of the Jewish underground) that I will never forget.
One thing I’ll never forget was told to me in an elevator at the U.S. Embassy in Geneva. The Office of the Vice President had invited me to be the Press Lead for one of VP Quayle’s trip to Switzerland. He was addressing the U.N. then making other stops in the area (including the Olympics. Ok, so our team was a tiny bit jealous of the lucky blokes that got the Olympic site … but, whatever.)
Whenever we traveled overseas, the embassies were actively involved to insure successful trips. Their support often included transportation. At each embassy, there is a driver pool – cars and drivers to transport official business needs.
On this particular day, I was coming back from doing a “walk-through” at one of our sites when I got on the elevator and greeted my fellow rider. He was such a nice guy and one of the pool drivers. He knew from my security badge, I was visiting from the States.
“You work at the White House?” he excitedly asked.
“Yes. We’re just in for a few days.”
“Do you know the President?”
“Not personally, but I’ve met him a few times. He is so nice. Makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room.”
“Oh… I think he’s wonderful.” the non-political pool driver told me. “I worked here when he was the Ambassador. Of course we were informed of his arrival before he started. I couldn’t believe it, though, when on his first day, I rode the elevator with him… just like I am with you. He looked at me when I got in, said hello to me … by name. Then he asked me about my family… by name. I couldn’t believe it! How did he know me? I was just a pool driver… and here was the new Ambassador talking to me!!”
I was with him. How did he do that?!
I asked around and discovered that Mr. Bush, before taking new posts, would ask the staff to send him notecards that included a picture of each employee plus a few facts about them. Clearly, he looked at the cards and learned about each and every person before he met them.
WOW – Now that’s manners. Incredibly polite and thoughtful.
One other amazingly manner thing for which President Bush was know were his hand-written notes. Each and every day, he would take time to personally write (not type) notes to folks with whom he had come into contact. Either a “thank-you” or just “enjoyed meeting you” note to make someone’s day.
I’m terrible on the note thing. Not only sending them myself, but teaching my kids to hand-write and send notes. With all the technology stuff, a hand-written note is becoming a lost art. The impact, though, can never be lost.
I guess like everything else, I can put it in the “working on it” category. Hmmmm…. apparently another recovery opportunity.
Thanks for walking the manner road with me.