I’m pretty darned good at complaining about bad service or products. That means I’d better praise great service as well. So I want to thank some folks for helping my family through the storm. We have power back today. Thousands more still do not have power and, worse, do not have homes. Once again, we are most lucky.

The staff at the Bridgewater Marriott has been exemplary. As Sandy threatened New Jersey, I made a two-day reservation for last Monday night. When it was clear we couldn’t even get out of our street, I managed to shift it a night. The front-desk staff fixed a problem with the reservation (whew) and managed to extend our stay through this morning (whew x 10). The first night, the hotel was overwhelmed. Even the front-desk staff helped serve in the restaurant. Absolutely every member of the staff we dealt with that harried night and on for the rest of our stay was incredibly helfpul, friendly, and empathetic — all the while many of them were worried about their own homes and families. Their generosity of spirit was most impressive. I told the wonderful Grace Lizardo, manager of the front desk, that we were so grateful to have an advocate and a friend there to help us.

I’m grateful for the power crews from Texas, Virginia, and Indiana who came to our street yesterday and restored our power — exhausted, far from home, doing dangerous work in hard conditions, but cheerful nonetheless. No matter what you may think of the utility companies, these guys are the heroes. As Bert Williams said in Twitter: “Utility line crews are the unsung heroes of any disaster recovery effort. Tough job in harsh conditions.” Amen to that.

Countless more staffers in restaurants and stores and gas stations and on the phone from Verizon, too, were helpful even as they were suffering through their own trials. Last night, my wife and I had a great dinner at a Greek restaurant in Somerville, NJ, (highly recommended) and the young waiter working a second job said his power came back on, then all the transformers in the neighborhood blew, and he’ll be without for another two weeks. We’ve come across so many folks like that.

As I said in my last post about the storm, I’m also grateful that I live in a neighborhood where folks banded together to help each other.

We are lucky and I just want to say thank you.

* * *

While I’m thanking, I’m overdue expressing my gratitude to @ahugo68, aka Alex Hugo, who a few weeks ago saw on Twitter that I was having a problem with my AT&T account (holding onto my precious unlimited data plan). Out of nowhere, he appeared and said that he was an AT&T store staffer and that he’d fix it. Little did I know how far he would go to help. I didn’t realize that he went into the store on a day off and got a flat tire on the way, to boot. But he said he couldn’t stand to see his company make a mistake. I thanked him and his boss on the phone but I also want to thank them publicly and say to every company that the key to success is not obvious: You need thousands of Alexes and Graces.

  • Dave

    Jeff, I have been enjoying your participation on TWIG for a while and have finally visited your site. I am looking forward to reading and engaging more in the future. For now, I’d like to share my favorite story of customer service and what I call my “Les Schwab List.”

    Les Schwab is a chain of tire and automobile service centers in the Pacific Northwest. Years ago, I went in for a low tire. They found a nail, plugged it and was ready to send me on my way. When I went to pay, they said, “no charge, sir.” When I asked why, they said they noticed I would need tires soon and would appreciate it if I thought of them when I went shopping. Later, they talked me out of a brake job as a second opinion to the local dealer who said they were dangerously low.

    I haven’t gone anywhere else since that time. As the first of a number of merchants on my “Les Schwab List,” I simply don’t need to shop for whatever they are offering. Sure, I may pay a few pennies more for tires, or elsewhere, plumbing services, or dry cleaning, or…. However, I know I will always be treated fairly and will be taken care of when issues arise. These merchants have earned a place on my list and it sounds like you have experienced many as well who have earned a place on yours.

    From all of us in the Pacific Northwest, we wish you and your family and friends a continued safe recovery from the storm and hopefully, you can begin building your own “Les Schwab List.

    Best regards.