The phone at the Thrift Shop I work at is my constant companion. With over twenty years of customer service experience I have come to appreciate that the phone is the first real window into any business, and I try to make a very good first impression. When the phone rang early this morning I answered it as I always do but what came next I was not prepared for. It was our Volunteer Coordinator and right off I knew there was something wrong. Her voice was uncharacteristically unsettled as she ask to speak to my boss. Informing her that she was at our second location she told me what I did not want to hear just yet, Larry one of our Volunteers had passed away.
The rest of the phone call is important but not to this post per say. What is important is that as a Hospice origination we treat death and dying with great care and compassion. Also as a non-profit, volunteers are as important to the missions as the rest of us are. They are, well a big deal but some are in a class of their own. Larry is a member of that class. I could go into depth of what Larry meant to our organization, not only as a patient/thrift shop/ and 11th hour Volunteer but also as a Loving , sports crazy, sweet singing voice and a Hot Mess of awesome human being he was. Instead I will just let you peek into my world with Larry.
If Larry did not have a patient to care for he would come in and help us price items to sell at our thrift shop. Larry would cut up with us, break into song with a sweet and experienced voice or he could talk University of Kentucky sports with other UK fanatics with the knowledge of a seasoned veteran but he had just one little quirk: Larry, bless his heart, could not differentiate Christmas/ Halloween/Easter themed merchandise from a McCoy piece of pottery! Since we put merchandise out according to its season this was a point of amusement to us but for Larry everything was fair game when it came to being priced and put out on the sales floor. One thing I can say about how Larry priced, engaged with his fellow volunteers and patients is he was consistent!
Now Julie is one of my fellow co-workers and she has a keen eye for spotting such things and calling it to Larry’s attention. For example, after finding a Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer what-not or a Joy of Christmas mug on the sale floor, she would come into the work room and say “Larry what is this?” Larry would more than likely have no clue and would graciously take his “lumps” for his part and carry on. Now I know you might be thinking it is no big deal to put merchandise out season, and it really is not, but it was as running joke among both Volunteers and staff alike and it made working with Larry that much more special.
As I was putting out one last rack today I thought of Larry, as I had been most of the day, and felt a need to find a way to Honor him and express my sense of loss in his passing. So I found a few things out of season and put them out to be sold. Here is to you Larry. You are in a class of your own.
Peace unto you and may you rest in peace~John