A Fairhope Christmas Story

Posted on December 22, 2015

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I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807-1882)

 

This carol has always been one of my favorites, as the lyrics pretty much sum up all our hopes throughout the year, but most especially at Christmas.

It’s my opinion we’ll never truly have peace on earth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have peace within the circle of our individual lives. And, we can all be a little more diligent about practicing the goodwill thing, too.

So, let me tell you a story about goodwill to a woman who has lived in Fairhope, Alabama all her life..

I can’t use names (privacy, you know) and won’t name the institution involved so this won’t sound like an endorsement.

That said, we needed to have a document notarized and were directed across the street to a bank and told to ask for a particular lady who we’ll call Miss D.

We went, and we did, and the lady and her employer turned out to be a perfect example of what watching the news tends to make us forget – goodwill and kindness still do exist in abundance in this crazy, scary world of ours.

Miss D wasn’t at her desk, and after a few minutes a young female employee said she’d go find out what was keeping her. Soon, Miss D slowly emerged from somewhere in the back – stooped and white-haired with bright blue, though red-rimmed and watery, eyes.

Her handshake was gentle and her greeting full of Old South grace and charm as she peered into our faces, looking for a trace of recognition.

Miss D’s official title is receptionist, but she also handles all the notary public work.  After a few moments of polite conversation, she asked for our driver’s licenses and took them over to a big screen magnifier, rather like a microfilm reader, situated on a counter.

We were puzzled at first, until we realized using the magnifier was the only way she could see our driver’s licenses to verify our identity.  After returning to her desk, she made some notes on a piece of paper using one of her large supply of Bic Sharpies – obviously she couldn’t see what she was writing if she used a regular pen.

We then had to fill out some stuff the notary would usually do – after all, we could see where to write, she couldn’t.

When we were done with the legal stuff, we asked her a few questions and soon knew her whole story.

Miss D was hired by a Fairhope bank  right after graduation from high school in 1943. She continued to work for the same bank through many mergers, buyouts, relocation and whatnot.  And in all her years of employment she never took a business day off, and never took a vacation.

Until recently.

After the last buy-out, merger or reorganization of this financial institution, she was informed by corporate headquarters that all employees – including her – were now required to take a minimum of 5 days off a year.

Well, she thought that was unnecessary, but seeing as how she would soon turn 90 years old, maybe taking it a little easier wouldn’t hurt. But for her, ‘taking it easier’ still includes walking to work, walking to the Post Office and walking to Mass. I don’t know where she lives, but walking to any of these places must mean a trek of at least 6 to 8 blocks a day, and probably more. She is a truly amazing lady.

But what’s REALLY amazing? The fact that a multi-state, corporate entity – and a BANK, no less – would continue to employ this sweet old gal.  Sure, her job, her church and her community are her entire life, but who nowadays cares about THAT?

Well, I guess the branch manager and her co-workers do. I have no idea how many times they’ve had to go to bat for her so she could keep her job, but I bet it’s been quite a few.

You want to talk about goodwill? Go get something notarized at a bank in downtown Fairhope, Alabama and you’ll see what goodwill is all about.

The business that brought us to her bank cost us $200.00, but we would have gladly paid that amount and more just to have the opportunity to meet Miss D.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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