Generosity: The Mother Lode of Innovative Service

miningGem mining is a fun route to a granddaughter’s heart. We had our three granddaughters for the weekend and took them gem mining in the North Georgia Mountains. Granted the buckets of sand are previously salted with semi-precious stones collectively worth less than the $10 you pay for each bucket.  But, that is not a “truth-in-mining” fact a five-year old cares to hear about.

The gem-mining place we chose was a mineshaft of innovative service. The exterior was littered with bright colored rocks promising you a likely successful find on the other side of their front door.  The tiny shop had tons of rock displays and gemstones set in jewelry.  The walls were covered with photos of rocks and famous finds in the area.  Our granddaughters’ eyes were as large as mining pans.  Then came an unexpected happening—the storeowner’s grey cat stuck its head through a baseball-sized hole in the ceiling above the girls.  It was so surreal that each girl wanted to be lifted up to touch it just to make certain the purring cat was not just a clever trick.

Once set up with a screen-covered frame, a bucket of sand and a bench seat in front of a narrow water trough the girls began their hunt.  After they shook the sand through the screen to unveil bright colored stones and unleash joy-filled squeals, the owner offered a quick geology class on each type of stone—amethyst, quartz, garnet, peridot, citrine, etc.  Like a world-class tutor, she was patient and noticeably well informed.  Before leaving we let the girls pick out one large piece of colored art glass in their birthstone color.  Hundreds of art glass pieces lined long display tables making the choosing much like a treasure hunt.

Now, here is the best part.  After every girl was completely satisfied with her choice, the owner asked, “And, what is grandmother’s birth month?”  When my wife said, “June,” the owner momentarily disappeared only to return with a gorgeous piece of deep purple art glass (for the birthstone, Alexandrite).  “This is yours,” she said, “For being so nice to me and bringing your grandchildren to my gem store.”

The most profound feature of innovative service is generosity.  Cracker Jack could have sold its caramelized popcorn without a free prize inside.  Zappo’s could have shipped its products to you using two-day UPS and not next morning delivery at no extra charge.  The spirit of innovative service is all about a purple piece of glass at a tiny roadside gem store.

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