The postman delivered a priority mail box the other day. We receive a lot of shipments, but weren’t really expecting anything in this type of box. I recognized the name as one of our customers from the military. We sent his unit some of our gourmet cookies a few years ago and he wrote me one of the most moving thank you letters I have ever received.
I opened the box, and the first thing that came out was a United States Flag, folded in military fashion in the shape of a triangle. My heart stopped beating for what seemed like a minute. I’m used to seeing flags like this when someone has been killed in action. Did something happen to one of the soldiers under his command? To our customer?
Inside there was a folder, and in it a certificate and a letter, addressed to Anna’s Gourmet Goodies. The flag was presented to us as a thank you for support of the troops and the War on Terror and was actually flown over Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes swelled with tears of pride.
If you’ve been to our website lately, you might have noticed the tag line, “our cookies make people happy”. I’ve actually been using that for a few years now, after some deep thought as to what it is that we really do at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies. It might seem obvious that we bake cookies, but I believe that great businesses have something that goes beyond the simple transaction of supplying goods and services. You might call it a soul.
From the very beginning, I have always poured my heart and soul into everything we do. Every product – every cookie, painstakingly measured by hand. Whether we are shipping an order for a Fortune 100 company, a wedding or event, the local realtor or mortgage broker, or to a group of men and women that put their lives at risk in places most of us would never consider going, we do it the same every time.
I can’t help but think that those men and women who choose to serve our country in the armed forces are driven by a similar passion. They too, put their heart and soul into what they do. But unlike what we do at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, baking cookies, they put their lives at risk, sometimes paying a price far greater than my aching feet or tired hands. And they do it over, and over again. To be of service to these folks is indeed an honor and a privilege.
A few years ago, Rick Warren’s book the ‘Purpose Driven Life’ spawned a new emphasis on the question human beings have been asking for thousands of years, “What is my purpose here on Earth?” Having read the book and taught a couple of classes on the subject, I’ve spent my share of time thinking about this very thing. I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to pursue many of my passions and to sometimes get a glimpse of what that purpose might be. Being of service to others and making people happy are certainly on the list.
After receiving the package, I downloaded and installed Google Earth. If you have not tried this application, I absolutely recommend you give it a drive. I measured a line from Wake Forest, NC to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and I come up with about 7,466 miles, more or less, as the crow flies. It’s a long way no matter how you measure it, but it is certainly a place that is closer to me now, than ever before. I am connected in a way that Google Earth, the Internet, email, social media, or any of these electronic pathways cannot match. Because I know that in this far off land where I may never set foot, a group of young men and women opened up a package, took a bite out of a cookie that we mixed, baked and packaged by hand, and for at least that moment, were happy. For Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, I’d have to say our mission was accomplished.