Lessons from abroad

August 1, 2007 By    

All my life I have wanted to visit
Ireland. Even before I learned
the details of my heritage there,
the lure of this simple, magical land
seemed to call me home.

Before I started this job 10 years
ago, I had virtually no travel experience.
That’s just the reality of growing
up in a family of 12 children; how do
you go on vacation when you can’t
even fit everyone in the station wagon?

Working for LP Gas provided my
first detailed glimpse at the world
beyond Ohio. I have been blessed to
traipse this country’s most beautiful
landscapes and visit locations where its
very history took root – all while meeting
and learning about the folks who
are the American propane industry.

This year we decided to take the
financial plunge and make our lifelong
dream a reality. As part of a family celebration
of my sister’s silver wedding
anniversary, my wife, daughter and I
joined nine others (three sisters and
their spouses, an uncle,
cousin and niece) for a 10-day adventure to the
land of leprechauns,
shamrocks, shillelaghs
and flowing
pints of

Riding in a
bus driven by
a thickbrogued
driver named
Ian, we covered 1,600 miles between
Dublin, Westport, Galway, Killarney
and Cork. My camera recorded 291
images of simple thatched-roof homes,
centuries-old churches, dramatic cliffs
and seashore, quaint towns, stone
fences and the “40 shades of green”
that give the Emerald Isle its name.

Yes, we also patronized more than a
few local pubs along the way.

The trip also gave me perspective
on the American way of doing business.
It taught me unexpected lessons
on how small, family-run businesses
can thrive without the gimmicks, priceslashing
or media blitzes that are so
painfully common here in the States.

Across Ireland, customers at the
small, unpretentious shops, restaurants
and pubs are routinely greeted with a
sincere welcome and offer of assistance.
The shopkeep – who likely is the
owner – has a comfortable knack for
getting to know his or her patrons
before commencing any business. It’s
just not the Irish way to pressure visitors
for their patronage.

Most of the modest buildings are at
least 100 years old. Yet the colorful
flower boxes, freshly painted storefronts
and shiny, worn wooden floors
are evidence that even the humblest
facilities can reflect a merchant’s pride.

The friendly staff knows its wares
and can capably answer questions or
assist in making decisions without
making you feel the need to tightly
grip your wallet. They are quick to
offer unsolicited help in wrapping a
gift, shipping a package or boxing leftovers
for you to take home. They seem
genuinely glad you came.

All good lessons to take home.


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