Every now and then I like to write an epilogue column. As I’ve said in the past, most stories don’t have an ending, just more story. And so it is with the Greyhound story.
Last April, I wrote about my 16-year-old daughter Rachel’s trip to visit with her sister in Mississippi. A novice bus traveler, she failed to change the baggage tag on her suitcase prior to the return trip so it remained in Jackson while she headed east. Even worse, the suitcase held the new prom dress she had purchased during her visit and the dance was in just a little over a week.
Here’s the short version: She reported the missing luggage when she got to Atlanta. I filed a report at the Gainesville station the following Monday. Both employees who helped us did stellar jobs and the suitcase was home by Tuesday.
I wrote that Greyhound’s CEO, Dave Leach, should be featured on the CBS reality show “Undercover Boss.” It would be a good opportunity for him to see what a fine job his employees did: “These people are treasures in your company and you should get to know them. Pat them on the back and make sure they know they’re appreciated. If this were ‘Undercover Boss,’ they’d get all-expense paid vacations or big promotions. I’m just sayin’.”
The day the column was published, I received an email from one of Greyhound’s media relations people. He asked for more information so he could identify the young man who helped Rachel in Atlanta. I passed on her description of him.
After that, things really started rocking. Kim Plaskett, Greyhound’s director of corporate communications, wrote to say that they were planning a recognition luncheon for the two employees, Marvell Jones and Jeanne Von Scoten, and asked if Rachel and I would like to attend. Of course we were delighted at the invitation, but Rachel was going to be out of the country for most of the summer. No problem. They scheduled the lunch for the end of August.
So a couple of weeks ago, I checked Rachel out of school and we showed up at the appointed time at Luna’s Restaurant. There, Leach and several other executives from Atlanta and Jacksonville fêted two of Greyhound’s finest.
Over a splendid lunch, we all got acquainted. Jones, the young man who helped Rachel in Atlanta, has been with Greyhound for three years. It’s obvious that he loves his job but his real passion is the work he does through his church. This is a man whose light truly does shine, both from behind the Greyhound Package Xpress counter and in the mission field.
Van Scoten has worked at the Gainesville station since Ronald Reagan was president. When I wrote a Facebook entry about the luncheon, the Rev. Bruce Fields of First Baptist Church commented: “... I know Jeanne very well. She helps me often as I help homesick and destitute folks get back to their hometowns after not finding work in Gainesville. She is the best at doing her job and helping people. ... I am so glad you were able to place the spotlight on her and thankful that she has been rewarded by the CEO of Greyhound!” Amen, Rev. Fields.
Mr. Leach wasn’t what I’d expected in a CEO. Certainly, he had a commanding presence but he was also funny, engaging and genuinely interested in what everyone else had to say. I was prepared to sing the praises of North Georgia when I asked him if he’d ever been to Gainesville. Turns out, he’s very familiar with our area. Greyhound buys all of its fuel from Gainesville’s Mansfield Oil. Small world.
He gave Rachel what may eventually prove to be very valuable advice. As they discussed her college plans, he suggested that no matter what she chose as her major field, she should consider taking a course in media relations. After all, you never know when someone’s going to poke a microphone in front of you and you have only one chance to get it right.
Listen up you college-bound kids. That’s good advice for you all.
During dessert, Jeanne and Marvell were presented with gifts of appreciation from Greyhound. Jeanne and her husband, Dallas, were given a cruise to a destination of their choice. Marvell received a new HP laptop. Even Rachel was given an envelope full of vouchers for free travel on Greyhound. There’ll be no keeping her down on the farm now.
So that’s the epilogue. It’s nice to see good people recognized and rewarded for good work. It’s nice to see my child meet people who are leaders in their field and realize that could someday be her.
And to have it all happen over Juan Luna’s crème brûlée, well, that makes it something very special indeed.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.