ROI Donuts

When I met Chuck Perkins in 1968, I had been transferred to Fairbanks Alaska to work as an insurance adjuster. Chuck was in business for himself doing cleanup and repair work which was frequently needed in handling insured losses. I was aware of the potential problem that can result when gifts or favors are excepted from vendors by a person who is supposed to remain totally objective about who gets hired. Chuck was a accomplished outdoorsman and had already established himself as someone who knew how to harvest a moose or caribou to keep the freezer full all winter.

Chuck, as well as the owners of the local body shops and other contractors demonstrated their friendliness and willing to help me as a newcomer in different ways. My initial reaction was to try and remain arms length from everyone I might do business with in my capacity as an insurance adjuster. As time went by it became apparent Chuck was not being friendly expecting a quid pro quo but rather was just a very generous and helpful person. From the day I first met him until today he can be counted on to terminate almost every contact or conversation with a cheery “keep smiling”. Over the years we shared many adventures in both summer and winter in the Alaskan wilderness. After 49 years Chuck remains one of my best friends to this day and we stay in touch my telephone regularly.

A few years ago Chuck experienced a fall with a very severe injury to one of his legs. After dealing with that for several months he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Another year or two of multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation tested Chuck’s smile and cheerful attitude almost to the level of the story of Job in the Bible. It occurred to me recently Chuck is demonstrated a little different approach to getting a return on investment than most people think of. Not only does Chuck share things unselfishly with friends and acquaintances, he takes it a step further. When he goes to the clinic for treatments or follow-ups he usually stops and picks up a dozen doughnuts or some flowers or whatever else might be a pleasant surprise for the people waiting on him. Knowing Chuck like I do, I do not believe he buys donuts and flowers with a quid pro quo in mind but rather because he likes making people smile. I suspect if Chuck had a medical emergency requiring special care at the hospital or clinic and he arrived at the same time as the city mayor or the state governor, he would not be left to cool his heels while the big shot was taken care of. Return on investment is not always money.