Reprinted from my Next Chapter newspaper column that appears in New Castle, Connersville, and Shelbyville newspapers twice monthly.
By Donna Cronk
With it commonplace for folks to pay with plastic instead of cash, I knew with this book, I needed to invest in a credit-and-debit-card reader. But what may seem an ordinary task to others threw me into a tailspin.
I decided to get one through my bank; to speak about it face-to-face with a human wearing business attire and a badge, seated in a leather chair behind a desk. News flash: these people still exist!
The task involved speaking with the correct banker who handles this, creating a particular business account, determining which reader best suits my needs, and signing the forms.
When the gadget arrived at my home, so did an email with links to videos about set up. I’d need to sync my phone with the reader, and complete related chores.
A banker checked in to see how it was going. It wasn’t. We made a phone appointment to get the reader launched. I dreaded our meeting and sent her an email that this all seems over my head. She asked for a chance to help, saying it with no a hint of condescension.
It took longer than a quick call; I was not a quick student. But we got it done. Story of my life: English is easy; math and tech not so much.
The day came for me to use the card reader on my own in real time. As I reached the venue early to prepare, butterflies swarmed in my gut—not about being the keynote speaker before a couple hundred people who were on their way—but if I would be capable of using this technology. What if I hit the wrong button and didn’t know how to correct it with potential customers viewing my ineptitude? What if I accidentally charged someone $1,500 instead of $15?
Mulling all this over, I pulled my book cart through the parking lot toward the venue.
“Excuse me,” came a woman’s voice. “Could you help me lift a crate from my car? I just had back surgery.”
I could. We introduced ourselves and started talking as though old friends. With her crate delivered to the kitchen, I found my bearings in the fellowship hall, and began assembling my book table. My new friend took a seat nearby and we continued chatting.
A retired nurse, she had a hobby-business that involved creating and selling jewelry, just as I have one creating and selling books. Once my table display was in place, she waved her credit card, saying she would like three of my books.
“Oh, wow! This is the first time I’ve used a card reader and I’m nervous,” I confessed. “I think God sent you to be my angel for a trial run,” I told her. Or something close to those words.
She said it wouldn’t be hard, adding, “I have one. I’ll help you.”
I fumbled the small gadget into position and turned it on. Out came my phone for its part of the process.
Success! It felt like a miracle—not that the tech worked, even, but that someone came along to put me at ease just when I needed her.
“If you want, I’ll sit with you at your table and help,” she offered, and did.
To my amazement, she took off and gave me her necklace that I had admired.
Since that night, I’ve used the reader numerous times with flawless results. Such irony! Someone now might mistake me for an old pro. Or at least for old.
I sent an email to the supervisor of the banker who helped me launch the reader. I told the boss that her employee is kind, patient, and helpful. I figure the best way to thank someone is to praise them to their supervisor.
Recently in another parking lot, I looked down to see a debit card on the pavement. I picked it up and headed to a nearby store’s service desk. There was a line, so I went back to the car, called the number on the card, then pressed the correct prompt. Voice mail.
I decided to drive the card to a bank branch that bore its name. I looked it up and one wasn’t far. Handing it to the teller, I explained how I found it and she vowed to call the card owner. She didn’t ask my name. I was glad. I didn’t want credit; only to help.
As Fred Rogers’ mother famously told him, “Always look for the helpers.”
They’re everywhere, even in parking lots.
We can each be one.
Union County native Donna Cronk writes a column for several Indiana newspapers. She’ll be giving a program and book signing at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at the Franklin County Public Library. Everyone is invited. Feel free to bring an heirloom for a show and tell activity. Her new book is There’s a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go. Connect via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.