Hospitality won city new champion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2012

“It’s them little thangs that’ll get’cha.”

Devon Wiggins, the late probate judge of Escambia County, used that phrase often, usually about politics. His words have been stuck in my head this week.

Way too often, “little things” distract me from the task at hand and keep me from the big things. Phones ring, email dings, text messages buzz. What is urgent to someone else but has nothing to do with the task I seek to accomplish shifts my focus and the next thing I know, I’m up against a deadline with no idea how it got to be so late.

How often do you see someone let a small problem – like an uncooperative electronic device, say – throw him or her into a foul mood? It’s such a little thing! Yet, we let small problems become big problems in our minds.

My friend Beth often quotes a commencement speaker she heard decades ago, who said, “When you’ve been to hell and back, you can recognize a bonfire.”

Beth, who lost a 1-year-old son to leukemia, is more qualified than most to remind us that some things that look like hell are just small bonfires.

Conversely, taking care of the little things can make the big things take care of themselves.

Take this week. Vector Aerospace had a Brazilian visitor from a sister company. The visitor, Flavio Pires, flew into Pensacola and drove to Andalusia, arriving rather late.

As Flavio told the story, he arrived at David’s Catfish just as they were closing. But manager Dan West invited him in to eat and saw that he was accommodated.

“(Flavio) loved his meal and spoke so highly of the way he was treated and how much kindness was shown to a stranger by our town,” Ronnie Kearns told me yesterday. “We have another champion for our town.”

If Flavio if half the champion of Andalusia that Ronnie is, we’ve found a good new friend, indeed.

As for Dan, he shrugged it off.

“I wish I could say we didn’t something special, but we really didn’t treat him differently than any other customer.”

In the scheme of a restaurant week, it was a little thing for Dan to do, but in the retelling, it is huge. No doubt, the Brazilian had heard of Southern hospitality, but had never experienced it in such a welcoming way. You can bet that kind of kindness builds return business.

Judge Wiggins was right. “Them little thangs” can have huge effects, one way or the other. The trick is in not letting them bog us down.