Bring a little magic

I worked at a test prep company in my first job out of college. And one of the most memorable people I met at that job was Vic, the UPS guy.

We received 5-10 shipments of materials every week, so Vic visited our office a lot. Every time he did, he would burst in with a smile and greet every single one of us by name. And he’d banter joyfully with all of us.

Somebody better help you answer all those calls, Tracy!

Paul, look at that shirt! Where can I get me a shirt like that?

Adam, why are you getting so many packages? What are you, Santa Claus in here?

I was crossing the street, heading back from the coffee shop one afternoon, when Vic turned the corner in his brown UPS truck. He jokingly gunned the gas and headed right for me before he safely passed by and yelled out the window, “Almost gotcha, Kevin!”

When we put a bulletin board on our office wall with photos of all 120 staff members and teachers who worked for us, it took just one day for Vic to say, “Hey, I gotta get my picture up there!” That request was immediately and enthusiastically fulfilled. Vic felt like part of our work family. He belonged on the board.

But the most incredible thing about Vic is that he seemed to do this with every office he delivered to. There were dozens of buildings with hundreds of offices to visit within a four-block radius. And whenever I saw Vic darting to and from his truck, he was joyfully connecting with everyone he came across along the way, always using their names, just like he did with our office staff.

I still remember the day that Vic shared the news he was retiring at the end of the month. After delivering to that same professional neighborhood for 30 years, he’d decided it was time for him and his wife to load up the Winnebago and hit the open road together for six months. He was excited, but everyone in our office was crestfallen.

We loved Vic. All those long days when the phones and the work and the stress just wouldn’t stop, Vic always seemed to lighten the mood and lift us up. We knew how much we were going to miss him. And I already felt bad for the poor replacement who had to step into Vic’s shoes at the end of the month.

There was nothing special, unique, or indispensable about Vic’s role. UPS could have filled that job with a thousand other drivers who would have performed the responsibilities of the job as well as or better than he did.

But Vic brought magic to that regular role. Every day, he put on a show. He leaned in. He showed up with energy and enthusiasm. He found a way to deliver his unique gifts along with his UPS packages. I can’t recall the name of a single other delivery person who’s come to my door. But I’ll never forget Vic. And there are dozens and dozens of people who worked in the 92612 zip code in the mid 90’s who feel exactly the same way.

Vic didn’t have more responsibility or authority than any other UPS employee. But while there were a thousand employees who could deliver those packages, there was only one Vic. To us, he was irreplaceable.

What’s your personal version of Vic? How could you bring so much effort, emotion, caring, trust, energy, art, etc. that you’d make that kind of impact on the people you interact with every day?

You may not do the same things that Vic did. But whatever role you’re playing, you’ll be a lot more effective, memorable, and indispensable if you bring a little magic to it.