This past April, one of western North Carolina’s famous retirees died. My sister-in-law Becky and her coworkers were discussing their encounters with this retiree. One fellow teacher told this embarrassing story.
The teacher and a friend had gone out to a restaurant to celebrate the teacher’s birthday. While they were eating, the manager came over to the table and asked whether it was ok if another patron sang “Happy Birthday” instead of the wait staff. The teacher agreed. The patron, an older gentleman, sang well. The teacher thanked the singer, and the singer returned to his own table. The other person eating with the teacher asked, “Do you know who just sang “Happy Birthday” to you?” The teacher admitted that he didn’t recognize the singer. When he learned who the singer was, the teacher wanted to go speak to the singer and tell him how much the teacher enjoyed his music, but everything seemed too awkward.
Becky then told her coworkers that her story would top the other stories. Before Becky was a teacher, she had worked in a bank.
At the time this happened, she was a loan officer. One day she noticed a car at the drive through window, but the teller had stepped away for a moment. Becky wanted to be helpful. Since she didn’t have a customer at her desk, she went to the drive through and retrieved the papers from the drawer. The bank had a strict policy that the teller had to use the customer’s name three times during the course of the transaction. In fact, they had mystery shoppers to come to the bank to see if the teller used the customer’s name at least three times. If a teller failed to use the customer’s name at least three times, the bank would fine the teller’s paycheck. Becky didn’t recognize the customer, so she looked at his deposit slip for a clue.
Becky wasn’t sure of the name, but decided to pronounce both of the vowels in Shea, so her communication went something like this. “How are you Mr. SHE-uh? How can I help you today?”
I’d like to make a deposit.
“Ok. Mr. SHE-uh, I’ll take your deposit to one of the tellers and have her process your transaction.” That’s 2 times using his name.
Returning with the finished transaction, she gives the receipt to the customer and asked,”Is there anything else I can do for you Mr. SHE-uh?” (3 times) When he replied no, she added, “Have a nice afternoon, Mr. SHE-uh and your daughter too.”
Just as the customer’s car drove off, the drive through teller returned. She took one look at Becky and said. “You didn’t just call him Mr. SHE-uh! How could you make that mistake. Didn’t you read the name on his deposit slip? His whole name? That’s George Beverly Shea! And that is his wife, not his daughter.
Yes, Becky’s story about her encounter with George Beverly Shea was more embarrassing.
Internationally known singer, yet he did not take offense when folks didn’t recognize him or when they mangled the pronunciation of his name.