Jerry Dawkins had just finished his first solo blue highways journey. With his marketing background he found it easy to talk with those he met on the trip. Now came the hard part: What did he learn?
Before Jerry thought about possible lessons from the trip, he had a lot of pleasant memories running through his mind. The first was of Jake and his 30-year-old Farmall tractor. If love existed between man and machine, Jake and that tractor had a true love affair. Jake could have easily afforded a new tractor but that would be like burying someone dear to him.
Another memory was sitting on a covered porch drinking sweetened iced tea with a hay making crew. The rain had stopped their work, but Jerry just loved the stories they told as he listened to the rain on the metal porch canopy. He couldn’t remember a time he felt more at ease. And those stories renewed his faith in the America he hoped still existed.
How could he ever forget walking into a country store and buying a Coca-Cola in the original 7.5-ounce green bottle. He didn’t realize that you could still buy Coca-Cola in a glass bottle or that you needed to pay a deposit on the returnable bottle.
Jerry had a very fond memory of being invited to a regular dinner at a family he met. He thought fondly of the question time feature of the dinner, where everyone at the table was expected to ask a question they were curious about. Just seeing the joy of the question time was a lasting memory.
Another store experience brought a smile to Jerry’s face. As he was walking through the aisles, he discovered they had his favorite shampoo from years ago. He thought that brand had disappeared.
And at that same store, Jerry saw that they had cheese logs (8 inches in diameter) that he loved. When he asked for the price, the response was: “Jest the same.” While Jerry didn’t know the original price, he wondered how many stores even kept their prices just the same.
While these memories were delightful, Jerry wasn’t sure of the lessons. Then it came to him. They were evocative of the contentment we can have in our lives from the small things. In a society where bigger, better, flashier is often trumpeted, it was a joy to know that many people can find contentment in simple comforts. And for Jerry that brought a sense of contentment in the direction of our society that he hadn’t experienced in a long time. And maybe that could become a marketing theme for his team.
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“Contentment makes a poor person rich and discontent makes a rich person poor.”
– Ben Franklin