Each has just finished mowing on this humid summer afternoon in the middle of God’s Country, known to most as Bradley County.
Both are tired, yet pleased that the week’s least favorite chore is again completed.
Walking down the sidewalk comes a pharmacist. His smile not only beams, it radiates as bright as the orange sun that is slowly setting in the hazy west. Making eye contact with his neighbors, the pharmacist offers an exuberant wave. His smile shines like polished ivory.
“That’s a million-dollar smile!” the electrician shouts, a toothpick dangling from one corner of his mouth as he wipes sweat from his glistening forehead with a faded red neckerchief.
“Yeah,” the bank teller chimes in, pulling the sweat-soaked T-shirt from against tanned skin. “You just win the lottery, or what?”
“Even better!” the pharmacist exclaims, stopping in his tracks at the end of the fence row to greet his neighbors.
“What’s better than winning the lottery?” the electrician asks.
“Winning the people’s hearts!” the pharmacist roars.
“Huh?” the bank teller and electrician reply in unison.
“You been personally testing too many free samples?” the bank teller quizzes.
The pharmacist laughs. In his business, he doesn’t get to laugh a lot. It’s the nature of the work. He deals with customers who sometimes are going through the worst of times. But he loves people. He lives to bring comfort to families and their loved ones. He believes customer service is more than a business plan. It is a way of life, in or outside his pharmacy.
“No!” the pharmacist answers, his smile ready to launch a ship if a coast was near. “No, not at all. I just received some great news!”
“... Which is?” the electrician prods.
“Well, I’m not really supposed to tell ... but, well, what the heck? You’ll find out Sunday anyway,” the pharmacist answers.
The bank teller and electrician are entranced by their friend’s bubbly mood.
“Well?” the bank teller asks again.
“We won!” the pharmacist finally concedes. “I mean, our pharmacy won!”
“Won what?” his neighbors quiz.
“Reader’s Choice 2014!” the pharmacist roars. “The people voted us this year’s ‘Best of Bradley County!’”
“Whoa!” the electrician replies.
“Get outta town!” the bank teller beams. “But ... how do you know? I haven’t seen any announcements!”
“It’s coming out Sunday ... in Sunday’s paper,” the pharmacist confirms.
Their mouths hanging open — both in disbelief and in happiness for their friend — the bank teller and the electrician at first are speechless. But reality sets in, their hearts grow as warm as the afternoon sun and they step across the freshly manicured grass to shake the hand of their much-beloved friend.
“So how’d you find out ... if the announcement is not until Sunday?” the electrician sought.
The pharmacist lowers his voice to a whisper.
“... Inside information,” he responds.
The bank teller and the electrician nod in understanding.
“I can’t wait till Sunday’s Banner!” the bank teller declares.
“Me too!” the electrician agrees. “I just might shock the socks off all those other short-circuit wannabes ... pun intended!”
Laughter fills the air in their little corner of the neighborhood as the bank teller, the electrician and the pharmacist anticipate the unveiling of the Reader’s Choice 2014 awards.
Please pardon our theatrics and perhaps our self-promotion. But yes, in Sunday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner we will include a special 40-page tabloid announcing the winners, and the runners-up, in 165 categories of customer service in the third annual “Best of Bradley County,” which is also known as “Reader’s Choice” awards. They’ll be subdivided in five classifications: Automotive, People, Restaurants, Services and Shopping.
Our readers voted during a two-week period in May. Balloting ended May 20. And then came the exhausting task of sorting through and counting thousands of ballots.
But now it is done. And we are ready to announce the winners, and the runners-up!
As for the bank teller, electrician and pharmacist mentioned above, they are just three hypothetical examples. For the purposes of this editorial, readers can just as easily plug in three of your own: Doctor, principal and plumber; builder, locksmith and teacher; lawyer, photographer and volunteer. Or ... well, there are hundreds of combinations.
Don’t miss Reader’s Choice 2014.
We had some fun putting it together. We believe you’ll have some fun reading about it.