Be more like Fred this school year

Published 9:03 pm Thursday, August 17, 2017

(We dedicate what you are about to read to all of our teachers and students as they begin a new year.)

School bells are ringing again.

And with their ringing, we all probably need a little pep talk to get us up on the right side of the bed and out the door right in the mornings.

So, to offer an assist in this regard, I want to introduce you to Fred.

It was 2004 when I first met Fred—well, not actually met him.

I heard author Mark Sanborn tell Fred’s story.

He even wrote a book about Fred, called The Fred Factor.

Fred was a postman who did his job better than any postman Mark had ever met.

One day, not long after moving into a new house in Denver, Mark heard a knock on the door.

It was Fred.

Fred was your average looking postman with a little mustache. He had just stopped to say “hello” and to meet the new residents.

The Sanborns must have raised their eyebrows just a bit at the introduction.

After all, what mailman comes to the door to meet you when you move in?

Just one.

Fred offered the best service for a man who carries the mail can offer. Mark began to discover that fact in the months that followed.

When UPS accidentally left one of Mark’s packages at the wrong door, Fred picked up the slack and delivered it himself to his friend’s front porch.

When Fred learned that Mr. Sanborn traveled much of the year, he volunteered to bundle the mail up and save it until he returned from his trip.

“Burglars watch for little things like mail boxes getting full,” Fred said.

“Okay,” said Sanborn, still not quite believing this was just the mailman.

Fred made it a point to develop a good relationship with the Sanborns.

He would even ride by and honk and wave at the family when he was off duty.

At Christmas, the Sanborns left Fred a gift, and Fred gave Sanborn a handwritten card of thanks.

Yes, Fred was anything but ordinary.

He took pride in what he did. He delivered mail with a passion, the same passion we try to have as we walk out our front doors in the morning and into the front door of the places we serve.

Fred wasn’t competing with any other mailman, either.

The only competition he had was the man he looked in the mirror at each night. That man would always tell Fred the truth.

Fred became such a hit that some companies now give a “Fred Award.” It’s for the special servant who does a job with the most integrity and enthusiasm.

Fred wants to remind us of what Martin Luther King once said:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

And, teachers, students and all the rest of us: here’s the good news, we don’t have to try to be Michelangelo, Beethoven or Shakespeare.

Just work on being Fred.

Steve Bowen is a former Granger who lives and writes in Red Oak, Texas.