I had a non-milestone birthday a couple of weeks ago. I tend to not be reflective on birthdays unless the number ends in five or zero. But my dentist’s office didn’t get the memo.
They sent me one of those form emails that said, in part: “Birthdays are special occasions. As children, we look forward to a birthday with anticipation and excitement. As adults, a birthday often is a time for reflection and renewal. We would like you to know that we are thinking of you on your special day. We hope that the coming year will be filled with health, happiness and success for you and your family.”
Part of me thinks my dentist is trying a little too hard. But I get it. Business is relational these days. I guess it’s always been, but it feels more so now, doesn’t it? And I think I like it that way, even if I'm skeptical sometimes.
My doctor and I sometimes talk minor league baseball during my visits. Back when I covered minor league baseball, I’d bump into her and her husband at the ballpark every once in a while. They have partial season tickets. So it makes sense for us to talk about baseball, in addition to my various ailments, during my appointments.
The woman who cuts my hair has been doing so for thirty years or so, and she’s become a friend. But we didn’t start that way. As we got to know one another, a friendship formed — mostly centered around Husker football and our common faith.
I used to talk to the pharmacist (I had to change pharmacies for insurance purposes) about my sports writing and the road trip he and his wife used to take periodically to see her family in Canada. He knew my name and always greeted me warmly when I walked in — a rarity in this day and age.
I bumped into a waiter named Brandon the other day in a restaurant that I’m not accustomed to seeing him in. He changed jobs recently but we picked up where we left off. Last I’d heard, his grandmother was in the hospital and was about to pass away. I promised to pray for her at the time. To my surprise, Brandon said she’d made a full recovery. He seemed surprised that I remembered her, which I thought was kind of sad.
Yes, businesses that send cheesy emails on our birthdays can feel a bit forced. And the overattentive store clerk, real estate agent or waitress makes me roll my eyes internally sometimes. But it shouldn’t because sometimes, I make genuine connections with people, even though it starts as a friendly business transaction.
How about you? Have you made any such connections that have made an impression on you? Maybe one that has turned into a genuine friendship? I’d love to hear your story.