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The Accountant & the $10 Man

Recently I met with Margaret Scott, CEO of RMG Partners, a mid-tier accounting firm based in Sydney Australia.  A dear friend of mine, Karalyn Brown, called me a couple of weeks ago and told me this wonderful story about her client (Margaret) and a chance meeting she had one lunch time with Phil – ‘the $10 man’.

The story was so compelling that I wanted to hear it for myself so I caught up with Margaret over lunch.  Here is her story:

Around 2.30 one afternoon I left my office to grab something for a late lunch. I went to a sandwich store in a nearby arcade that I occasionally frequent and queued at one of the stores. When it was my turn to be served I placed my order and waited for the sandwich to be made, the lady told me it would be $7. While she was making the sandwich I looked in my purse for money to pay and was shocked to find I had no cash! Remembering that my teenagers had cleaned my purse out that morning, I asked the sandwich lady if they took credit cards and she replied no, they didn’t …Aarghh – what do I do, I asked myself?  The lady suggested I go to an ATM but I knew that was a block away. So much for a quick lunch break I lamented.

Whilst I was wondering what to do, a gentleman to my left who couldn’t help but overhear the exchange, opened his wallet and handed me a $10 note. I tried to protest but he insisted it was his pleasure to help. He then paid for his sandwich (being made by another lady), smiled at me and walked away.

I didn’t know what to say. Here was a total stranger giving me $10 to pay for my lunch and now he’d gone, he didn’t even wait for the change! I paid the lady and she was just as surprised as me when I told her I didn’t know the man. I asked if she knew him and after conferring with a couple of the others behind the counter, told me his name was Kelvin and that he comes regularly to their shop to buy his lunch.

As I walked back to my office I decided that I couldn’t let such a good deed go without proper recognition. A few days later I went back to the shop and asked the ladies if they remembered the $10 incident. After a little prompting they did remember – they must serve a lot of people during any given week! I asked them to give Kelvin an envelope which I passed over the counter. The envelope contained a thank you note, my business card and a $10 note. I thanked the ladies for their time and went back to my office.

A couple of days later I received an email from the $10 Samaritan – Phil (not Kelvin – the ladies in the shop had his name wrong). His email told me of his great surprise to be warmly greeted by the shop staff that day and given my envelope. He thanked me for the $10 and said he ‘was happy to assist a damsel in distress’. I replied and offered to take him out for a coffee; the following week we met and chatted about ourselves, life & business.

During our coffee meeting I invited Phil to a breakfast seminar my firm was holding the next week with guest speaker Jane Fleming predicting the outcome of the London Olympic Games for the Australian team.  Phil came to the seminar and the next day, sent me a thank you note saying how much he enjoyed the presentation and meeting people at our firm. Since then we’ve kept in contact and I’ve no doubt that his company (Phil works for a large real estate organisation) will become a client of RMG Partners sometime in the future. All because of me following up on a random act of kindness!

Nothing to add here 🙂

See you next post.

James E