A Profound Purpose

Virtually every florist knows his or her craft helps people express emotions and commemorates life’s salient moments. However, it’s easy to forget that fact—that honor—when crunch time hits and the work piles up.

In the coming days, you’ll no doubt feel the mounting pressure of Valentine’s Day. If you feel your passion start to slip, here’s a story to reinvigorate your sense of purpose.

Earlier this month, Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald recounted a man’s ordeals when patronizing a couple of big box stores.

“It had been a frazzling Saturday afternoon for an exasperated consumer, first locking horns with Staples, then going a few bruising rounds with General Electric,” Fitzgerald wrote.

Over and over again, when the man addressed sales associates with simple quandaries (Where can I find an owner’s manual? I need to replace a halogen lightbulb), he received the same response:

“Why don’t you look it up on the Internet?”

Altogether the man visited five stores (two Staples, then Office Max, True Value, and Home Depot) then had a lengthy, dead-end conversation with GE. Customer service was dead!

“Then he looked at his watch and was horrified to see it was almost 5 p.m.,” Fitzgerald wrote. “He had yet to order flowers for a dear friend’s wake in Malden the next day, which was the Sunday of a three-day weekend.”

Given the day’s experiences, he figured there was slim to no chance he’d find a florist who would help him. Reaching several answering machines, he lost hope.

Then his phone rang and a lady named Effie Mihos, who owns a shop called Capelo’s, asked, “Are you the man who just left a message about needing flowers for tomorrow?”

He answered yes, and began sharing what the deceased had meant to him. Effie said she’d call him right back.

“We’re closed, but I just called my designer. She’s willing to go back and put something together, and my driver said he’d be happy to make the delivery,” she said. “So what can we do for you?”

After placing his order, the man asked Effie why she troubled herself and her staff to serve him.

“Because I know how important this is,” she said. “It’s the last thing you can do for your friend and you have to do it now. A birthday can wait; this can’t. I am sorry for your loss and happy to help.”

Confession: I have never worked in a flower shop over Valentine’s Day (or any other time, for that matter). But I have worked through countless magazine closings—the worst involving multiple days that stretched until 2:30 a.m. and started up a mere four hours later. During those high stress periods, I frequently asked myself, “Why do I endure this?” But then I’d come across a kind note from a reader—and that would make all the difference.

Here’s to raising customers’ spirits, on February 14 and beyond.