Have you ever heard that motto before? You have if you’ve been to the New York City General Post Office. It’s not actually the official motto of the post office, but it’s engraved on the front of their building since 1896. Therefore, for the sake of this story, let’s pretend it is. However, that’s not the complete motto. Do you know what comes next?
“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Think about this for a moment. Shouldn’t this be the motto of most of us in business? After all, what it is really saying is this: When things are tough, we’ll be there for you.
In my small town of Great Falls, Virginia, I was recently reminded of this motto, but I wasn’t reminded by our local post office. I was actually reminded of this motto by our local Chinese restaurant. As 15 inches of snow blanketed the area during the night, people stayed off the roads and let the road crews do their work. During the day, the town remained quiet as more snow, sleet, and rain continued to fall. Finally, around 6:00 pm, my wife and I decided to venture out.
When we got to one of the two small shopping centers that serves our tiny Great Falls, every restaurant and store was closed…. except for one. In the darkness, there was one “Open” sign shining brightly for our little Chinese restaurant, the Peking Delight.
Like rushing to a small oasis in a desert, we parked our car and went in to order some food to go. While I was inside waiting, I asked these two questions: How did they get their staff to come in during this storm? Why did they decide to open up?
“We all piled into one car, and got here at our normal time,” the woman said with a smile. Knowing that almost no one would be able to come by and order food, and faced with the danger of driving in terrible conditions, I needed to ask my second question one more time: Why did they decide to open up? As the woman responded, she no longer smiled. She answered me with a somewhat serious expression and a hint of pride: “We felt you need us.”
They didn’t open because they felt it would be profitable. With a partial staff on hand, they had only made a handful of meals all day… and they knew this would probably be the case. They opened because they felt the community needed them. Was it the safest thing to do? Of course not, and I don’t hold it against any business that wasn’t able to open on this snowy night. But it was a gesture I will not soon forget.
We often see companies open up businesses in a community, but how often do we see businesses that understand what it is to be a member of a community? Well, there’s a little Chinese restaurant in Great Falls, Virginia, that let its actions speak louder than its words. If the post office doesn’t want to officially claim that motto, I think we should hand it to the Peking Delight.