Over the weekend, I received a package from my undergraduate school, Mercer University. Generally, when I receive correspondence from Mercer, Georgia State, or Emory, it’s alumni spam. This was in a hand-addressed manilla envelope. I have a recurring dream where a school I attended figures out I’m a credit short and revokes my degree. I also keep waiting for the Bar to rescore my exam to tell me that I didn’t make it after all.
I opened the envelope to find a small paperweight sort of a trophy. The date of the giving of the trophy was May 24, 1993, for service as a Mercer Ambassador in the 1992–1993 school year. Mercer Ambassadors function as young smiling faces for alumni events and certain school functions. I recall being involved in it my sophomore and possibly my freshman year. There must have been some sort of trophy presentation — perhaps at an awards day — that I missed.
There was a nice card enclosed from the Coordinator of Alumni Programs, a lady named Anneliese Newberry. The hand-written card said,
The enclosed award was found whle cleaning out an area of the office, and
we wanted to make certain it reached your hands. Being an Ambassador is
an honor, and you deserve the accolade!
I don’t remember much about being in that program. I recall that we wore Maytag Repairman looking blue blazers with a crest. The Mercer website shows that the bunch these days dress much more tastefully.
But, all that aside, Ms. Newberry did, in a simple gesture, something more valuable than all of the slick alumni magazines I receive every few months could ever do. She made a connection with me. How easy would it have been simply to throw away the “award”? It’s likely that I would have done precisely that had I been cleaning out a closet and found it. After all, some person from 1993 must be in a retirement home by now or too out of it to comprehend the correspondence.
I’m sure that Ms. Newberry will raise a zillion dollars for the school, and I will take from this kind gesture a very valuable lesson in customer service.