Why It’s Good to Occasionally Overpay

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Mr. PaulI’m curious… How long has it been since you “made somebody’s day” with a word or deed having no expectation or thought of personal reward for the action?

As a society, it would be nice if we could encourage everyone. Obviously, whether we consider the concept unrealistic or even unimportant, it isn’t happening, is it? And I’m quite certain that neither of us believe the status quo is likely to change anytime soon.

Well then, if we aren’t encouraging everyone, can we encourage some? A few? One person? Yes, we can. And we should.

I’m sure you are aware that there are those among us who receive little attention, only occasional respect, and even smaller monetary reward when compared to the true value they bring to our culture. Take, for instance, my friend Mr. Paul…

To most people who pass him in the Pensacola Airport, Mr. Paul must appear to be “just a shoeshine man.” He sits unobtrusively next to the coffee shop and nods or gently smiles to those walking by. For some reason (known only to him) Mr. Paul never asks anyone for their business. He laughs while I do, however…

When I sit in his big chair, I talk to anyone within earshot. “Hey!” I’ll call to passersby. “If I were you, I wouldn’t go home in those scuffed up shoes. Just think how proud your family will be when you walk in the house later today and you’re all shined up! And you’ll be able to tell them your shoes were not shined by a shoeshine man…your shoes will have been shined by THE shoeshine man!”

Mr. Paul chuckles and shakes his head, but I keep on anyway. “Come here, come here,” I’ll say. And when they do, I quickly tell them a few secrets about my friend.

Mr. Paul is in his eighties and works five days a week with a smile on his face. He is a veteran of World War II and Korea. Several years ago, the golf club where Mr. Paul had worked for years decided they no longer needed professional shoeshines, and the proud, hardworking man was let go. He quickly set up shop in the Pensacola Airport in the same location he occupies today.

Mr. Paul has six children and I can’t help but marvel at what an awesome example their father continues to be for them. His “kids” range in age from late forties to mid sixties. Five of the six are employed and enjoy active careers. Number six owns the business he started from scratch and he now provides jobs for others.

Here’s my point: Knowing how often you and I lament the discouraging aspects of our society, shouldn’t we make special efforts to encourage and reward those whose work ethic and happy spirit make this world a better place? Again, yes, we should.

Tipping is fine and I usually tip above and beyond the norm. Occasionally, however, I love to pay way beyond what is expected or even hoped for…

You and I are greatly blessed. If you are reading this on a computer or smart phone that you own, if you have air-conditioning and a car, you are statistically in the top five percent of the world’s wealthiest people. You and I can afford—at least every now and then—to show our appreciation to those men and women who are the “guideposts” our declining culture so desperately needs not to forget.

To be clear, while “giving” should be a part of what we regularly do, I am not suggesting we simply give money to people like my friend at the airport. Rather, because Mr. Paul and other folks like him are a great and noble example of the best of our society, I am urging us to occasionally pay more for the product or service they provide. That particular act will obviously delight and encourage them, but you will be amazed at what it will do for you!

Mr. Paul charges five dollars for a shoeshine. I always pay twenty. Why? First and foremost, he does an incredible job, and when I consider the time saved and the value of his work relative to my life, twenty bucks seems about right for me. Perhaps more importantly however, I appreciate his influence and example to the world in which I live and raise my children.

In addition, think about the influence he continues to exert upon his six children, their children, and the many relatives and friends who have witnessed Mr. Paul’s joyful spirit and incredible work ethic for decades… That particular fact, I must admit, leads me to another thought crossing my mind more often these days. In a nation where the dollars I earn are increasingly being allocated for uses with which I do not agree, I flat out enjoy occasionally being the one who decides where my money goes!

Mr. Paul is my first “tag.” If you are ever passing through the Pensacola Airport, please have your shoes shined and honor this man with a verbal or financial pat on the back. By following me on Facebook and Twitter, you can be updated periodically on Mr. Paul and others like him I find around the country.

In closing, allow me to speak for us all when I say that we are very interested in finding out about the incredible, but unsung, people you know. Briefly tell us about them in the comments section below, being sure to include their name, occupation, and city or location. In addition, please post about them on my Facebook page. Together, you and I can rally lots of people to exhibit a spirit of gratefulness for many who might feel forgotten.

So…whom do you “tag” today? I, for one, can’t wait to tell them you said hello!


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