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Happy Birthday America

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A man I knew went from India to Germany in 1937. In Berlin, he bought a watch for his fiancee. They were married soon after. In late 1970s, the watch stopped working. Instead of throwing it away, the wife simply kept it with her. A few years later, their son was sent to Germany on training and the mother gave him the watch (in its original case) just in case. Well, guess what? There was a watch shop at that address in Berlin (now West Berlin) and yes, it was run by the same family. He gave them the watch to repair which they did. When he asked about the charges, they said “Covered under warranty”!

That, dear boys and girls, is why German products are insane.

And here is the British version.

In 1939 before the outbreak of WWII in London a reporter drops off a pair of shoes for repair. He forgets about them and finding himself back in London after the war finds his ticket which he presents to the clerk. The clerk goes in the back and returns a few minutes later without the shoes. He replies, “Sir, that will be ready in a weeks time”.

Not only do you pay but you wait for excellent British shoe repair.

Many years ago i was reading through an LL Bean catalog, I found a briefcase I wanted and noted they were open 24/7. Its after midnight and I called the phone number. Surpassingly it was answered. The voice on the other end of the phone said LL Bean and sounded like LL Brean. Maine hardened with a New England accent. I shared both my address and the product I wanted. He dutifully repeated my order and address. Before he said goodbye I asked him how can i pay? He said we will send you a bill. What a concept, trusting a total stranger over the phone for a first purchase. The following week I received both the package and a separate bill. I first opened the bill, wrote out a check, addressed an envelope and walked down to the mailbox. When I returned I opened the package. And I have purchased a lot from LL Bean over the years.

Such I have lived in an America where to trust a stranger is part of the American experience. America is about what if, not what’s not.

Happy Birthday America

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