I once worked as a security dispatcher at the Hollywood & Highland complex on Hollywood Boulevard.
I’d spend the entire day in a camera surveillance room in the security office, and our receptionist was a lady named Addie, who we used to call “Aunt Bee” due to her resemblance to the character from the Andy Griffith show, played by the late Francis Bavier.
Even though she was a security officer, they assigned her to the reception desk because they had reservations about putting her out into the complex where she’d have to deal with the riff-raff. I’m sure they thought that if she were sent to disperse a group of gang members who were loitering, instead of approaching with her hand on her mace, she’d be carrying a picnic basket of fried chicken with sweet tater pie for dessert.
She’d probably scold them for loitering and then give them a little lecture about how they should be in school. Then, after they’d finished their fried chicken and sweet tater pie, they’d hang her upside down by her panties from the nearest flagpole.
Addie wasn’t the shiniest bullet in Barney’s shirt pocket either, which is probably why she let us call her Aunt Bee in the first place. The real Aunt Bee could probably whip her in an IQ test, if you can imagine that, so I myself had reservations about having her assigned to the reception desk. But it was better than having her out among the thieves and gang members, and she was a nice lady.
One time she offered to get me something at the nearby Starbucks. She was going down there on her break and, while asking me to cover the phones for her, she offered to buy me a coffee, which was her routine. She was always offering to do something nice for someone, which is another way that she was just like that beloved matronly icon of Mayberry.
I politely declined and thanked her for the offer because my own break was coming up shortly, and I was planning to head down there myself. When she returned to the office about fifteen minutes later she popped into the camera room to let me know she was back, and to give me a nice little Starbucks gift card that she’d picked up.
“David,” she said, “it’s nearing Christmas, and when I saw this card I thought of you because you’re always so nice, and it’s such a pretty card, I thought you’d like the design on it.”
It WAS a nice gift card! It was one of the holiday designs with holly and ivy on it, so I thanked her very much and tucked it into my shirt pocket for use on my upcoming break. About a half-hour later I’d placed my order for a grande cappuccino and handed the card to the young lady behind the counter, all the while thinking of how sweet it was of Addie to treat me like this.
“I’m sorry, sir, but the card is empty.”
“Huh? It can’t be, our receptionist was just down here less than an hour ago and she got it for me.”
“I’m sorry, but there’s no money on it… it’s an empty card.”
I paid cash for my cappuccino and stopped at the reception desk on my way back into the office.
“Addie, uh… thanks again for the card.”
“Oh, David, you’re so welcome! It’s such a pretty card, I just knew you’d love it!”
“I do, Addie, I do! Hey did you know that you can put cash on those? Like a gift card… did you know that?”
Her mouth fell open and she looked at me like I’d just told her Opie had robbed a liquor store.
“NO! Really? I just saw it in a little stack by the register so I grabbed it for you. Gosh, I should have done that! That would have made for an even better Christmas gift!”
I smiled and patted her arm.
“That’s okay, Addie, don’t worry about it, maybe next time. I’ll just keep it right here in my wallet so that it’ll always remind me of you.”
I returned to the camera room having learned a small lesson on the value of the meaning behind gifts. It’s not just a cliché that it’s the thought that counts, so I want every single one of my readers to head down to the nearest Starbucks and grab one of those little gift cards that you’ll find by the register.
Be sure and pick the nicest one and just slip it right into your pocket! It’s on me, and you deserve it for being such a faithful reader.