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Sharing the love: Going the extra mile

School of PortsI was invited to run a workshop on presentation skills at the Maritime School of Excellence (MSE) in Durban last week. The prospect was pleasing, but the location was a nightmare, and I had less than 24 hours’ notice. The MSE is on one of the scariest and longest roads in Durban: Bayhead Road. It regularly features in the daily traffic reports as a place to stay away from, as often as not choked with container and other trucks making their way to and from the Durban harbour and Container Terminal.

And I had no idea where on the interminable road I would find the School, having been pointed by different people to opposite ends. And since my arrival would coincide with the early morning traffic, a mild panic attack was in order. An hour or more on Google Maps Street View did nothing to allay my fears. The sign that would proclaim my destination remained elusive. I was desperate. It was the end of the day; offices were closing. When I finally got the School’s number, it was too late; there was no one to answer. In desperation I called the Container Terminal, since I had heard they were near the School. The receptionist was sympathetic but unsure. She gave me the mobile number of a colleague who was ‘good at directions.’ Without much hope I called. No reply — twice. He was probably in traffic. I hesitated to intrude on his evening at home. What would he think of a stranger imposing on his personal time on a matter that had nothing to do with him? But he was my last hope, so I called again; still no reply. Then he called me back.

Had I been a customer of his, Luma could not have given me better service. Without hesitation he gave me the help I needed. His directions were clear, and I followed them on my side through Google Maps. On Street View I even found the school’s sign. The following morning I confidently followed the route arriving in good time and stress free.

My Good Samaritan had delivered, but he wasn’t finished yet. As I was signing in Luma phoned again: ‘Just checking. Did you make it?’

Luma, I salute you. You went out of your way to help a stranger, and then you walked the extra mile to ensure your help had been effective. If I am not able to repay you directly, I will seek to be as helpful to others as you have been to me. Thank you.

It’s not that these things are difficult, costly or even time consuming. Anyone can do them; sadly, only a few do. What about you? What about today?

Similar experience? Share yours in the comments below.

Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people, people-management consulting and writing and editing.

  1. John Webster on 5 May 2014 at 11:19 am

    I concur with Rose in every way.

    • Ian Webster on 5 May 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks John. Don’t try to negotiate Bayhead Rd for the first time during morning rush hour without a Luma on your side!

  2. Rose Smurs on 5 May 2014 at 9:15 am

    What a wonderfully positive story with which to return to work today! It certainly restores one’s flagging faith in the innate goodness of South African people, as well as their ability to deliver customer excellence! if only we “got it so right” more often – Luma’s tale brought tears to my eyes !

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