With the centenary of the end of World War I in mind Margaret Hawkins recalls her visit to the battlefields in 2014 and how, unsettled by that experience, she found God reminding her of something in a mug.
When farmers in Belgium plough their fields they are as likely to be followed by souvenir hunters as seagulls. One hundred years on from WWI, bomb disposal experts are still called out three times a day to the areas of Flanders and Ypres that had the spotlight of the world from August 1914 to November 1918.
Farmers who find objects such as live bullets and shrapnel leave them in holes in telegraph poles to be collected by a truck that, even still, trundles by each day.
WE TRY HARDER!
‘We Try Harder’ was an advertising slogan, first coined by Avis in 1962. At that stage, the car rental company was number two in the market. Their ad agency turned being number two into the best argument for better service – with the message that their position as second in the market meant they would constantly ‘try harder’ to produce a good service.
Recently, that catchphrase was put to the test in circumstances most of us can identify with. It surrounds the experience of one traveller who had rented a car from Avis for a short trip.
Returning a vehicle to any car rental company can be a hurried business. If you have ever had the experience you know the feeling – is the car being returned full of petrol and in the same condition as you got it? Have you taken everything out of the car – papers and personal belongings? And don’t forget all the luggage!
All went according to plan – the car was safely returned, with no surcharges. Or at least, that was how it seemed until 30 minutes later. It was only then that the dawning realisation came – a mobile phone was missing. It was no longer where it should have been, but sitting neatly in the centre console of the rental car. A quick return to where the car had been dropped off brought the news that the vehicle was away to be prepared for its next customer. An impending flight meant there was nothing more that could be done there and then.
One flight later, and hundreds of miles away from the car rental drop-off point, what was to become of the lost phone? Phones are valuable things.
Not only expensive to buy, they also contain lots of personal information that most of us do not want to lose. It is everything, from photos to text messages, phone numbers and addresses.
Happily, the new destination was very close to an Avis branch office. Asking a person behind a counter seemed better than facing a website or a helpline. It was the beginning of numerous phone calls and great effort by the representative. They could just as easily have brushed it off with a cursory email or two, then leaving it at that. After all, what would the incentive have been to do more? Yet, they went beyond what might have been expected.
After a stressful wait and many phone calls by the representative the phone was located and posted – returned to the hands of its owner within a day. All done for the cost, to the customer, of posting a small package.
It was only as the customer reflected on the experience that they had a vague memory – that the company’s strapline had been ‘We try harder’. Then came a realisation – that the employee’s efforts had expressed what the company had said about itself.
Therein is a moment of opportunity for every member of the Church. It does not matter whether we are in the biggest most active congregation imaginable, or a small quiet one. The opportunity is the same – to express what we say by what we do. Or as Christ said it, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
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