Each of us is given the occasional chance to reflect upon the people who shaped our lives. For me, one such opportunity has come in the past few days since reading in our Saturday business section about the passing of Jack Buchanan, founder of an Oklahoma City-area grocery store chain.
One of the eulogists at his memorial service Monday was a man who, like me, owes his first job to Jack Buchanan. He talked about the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of teenagers who learned the values of hard work and customer service from working at Buchanan’s Grocery. Jack was known to sack groceries at his four stores, then carry them out to customers’ cars and thank them for their business.
One story about him that has stuck with me for nearly four decades: One Sunday afternoon when I was about 7, my older brother and I and a couple other kids found ourselves in the Buchanans’ back yard, across the street from our house, where Jack had pitched a tent to let his sons have a pretend camp-out. For some reason, we began throwing dirt clods at the tent. Jack heard the commotion, came outside and told us to stop.
Later that evening, he came to our house and proceeded to give us a lesson in respecting others’ property. There was no anger in his voice. We hadn’t damaged the tent. But he wanted us — and our parents — to know that the way you treat another’s belongings is how you treat that person.
Jack Buchanan was a decent, genteel man. I just wish I’d told him that.