Every year affords us interesting new memory scraps with which we can assemble a wondrous mental Christmas scrapbook. This year, one event that stands out involved Tommy Sanes.
Who's Tommy? He works the loading dock at FedEx Freight, where we pick up our comic book shipments every week. He's a gregarious, good-natured bear of a man, burly and always smiling, no matter how busy things are. He's a master of the forklift, moving it around with deceptive ease. And Tommy always takes care of us; often he is waiting for us at the loading dock, our skid ready to go, because he knows what time we usually arrive.
This year, as a way of saying thanks, I got Tommy a Christmas card and a gift card for Olive Garden, because I had heard him mention that he really liked eating there. I stuck the gift card in the Christmas card, put it all in an envelope, and had it ready so that I could hand it to him.
As it turned out, this was one of those mornings when Tommy was bringing our books to the loading dock just as we were pulling up. As he brought the forklift down the ramp to put the skid down right next to the van, I handed him the envelope. He grinned and looked a little bit surprised. "I've never gotten a Christmas card from a customer in all the years I've worked here--thanks!" he said. We wished each other a merry Christmas, and he steered his forklift back up the ramp and into the football-field-sized warehouse.
About three minutes later, as we were finishing loading the boxes into the van, the forklift dashed back down the ramp, steered by a grinning Tommy. He stopped a few feet away, got off the forklift, and said, "Aww, man!..." Then he headed over, started to shake my hand, and then changed his mind and gave me an enthusiastic bear hug. "I couldn't believe it!" he said. "No one's ever done anything like that for me in all these years!" I assured him that it was just a small token of our gratitude for all he has done to make our job easier. "I just hope you have a great Christmas," I told him.
"I will now!" he said--and I believe he really meant it. For some reason, this simple gift seemed to have had an impact far greater than its value, and I was very happy for that.
Tommy was still grinning as he drove back in to the warehouse a second time... and I have a sneaking suspicion that grin stayed with him for a while. I hope so.
Merry Christmas, Tommy!