Free Hugs

Free Hugs

The best thank you

My wife and I celebrated Easter weekend by making a trip to our home on Lake Chelan. While there we enjoyed the spring sunshine and the time together. This morning we dined at one of the state's oldest and most popular resort hotels - Campbell's. The variety and presentation of their holiday brunch was awesome and, despite our focus on healthy choices, we both made three trips to the buffet line. (Which is why I made sure to insert a four mile walk into my afternoon activities).

During our drive home, Cindy and I stopped for coffee at our favorite coffee house in the small town of Cle Elum. As we pulled into the parking stall in front of Pioneer Coffee we saw an elderly woman at a table outside the shop. She was bundled in a heavy coat and wore a purple knit hat to break the chill. Her table displayed several loaves of home made banana bread and a hand made sign describing the variety of fruits that she added to the smallish five dollar loaves.

Before we went inside to order our coffee we approached the table and visited briefly with the woman. It was obvious to us that selling her bread was important to her, and still she wasn't pushy or overbearing. She visited with us about what went into each loaf and treated us as if we were neighbors or close friends. We chose a loaf of banana apple bread and placed a five dollar bill into the woman's hand. She smiled and sincerely wished us a "happy Easter."

About ten minutes later we left the coffee shop and returned to our car. Instinctually, I removed a second five dollar bill from my wallet and went to the woman's table for a second time. I handed her the money and suggested that she watch for someone that she would like to make sure went home with a loaf of her bread. "If they don't buy one," I suggested, "just give them the one that this pays for. Don't tell them why. Just have some fun."

The woman thanked me repeatedly and when Cindy began to enter our car the woman asked her if she would like a hug. No kidding. She offered my wife a hug and Cindy gladly accepted it. I was inside the car with my seatbelt on watching the two women embrace with smiles on their faces. Then, when they separated, the woman looked me in the eye and asked "Wouldn't you like a hug too?" Of  course I would!

I stepped out of the car and approached the outstretched arms of the woman I'd just given ten dollars too. Her hug was strong and heartfelt. I thanked her and she whispered to me that "hugs are free." 

The hug was her way of saying thank you. It was all she had to give. Receiving it from her is something that I will remember forever. 

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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