The below article first ran as a Monday Huddle Up in May of 2015. The restaurant in question is a 50 year old institution in Arizona called Don & Charlie's. Don & Charlie's has long been a popular gathering spot for baseball players, coaches, and fans alike during Spring Training. From Harry Carry to Willie Mays, everyone who is anyone in baseball has dined there. Don & Charlie's is closing this April to make way for a new hotel development. In honor of the great food and tradition they created over the years, we give you this week's Huddle Up, "Super Shelly".....
Some people have a special gift, a talent that very few can emulate. A person’s unique ability can come in many forms. It can be athletic, musical, cerebral, artistic, or even mechanical in nature. We all know someone that has a gift, where they are able to do something better than anyone else we know. That person for me is Shelly.
Shelly (who should be called “Super Shelly”) is a veteran bartender at one of the more historic restaurants in Arizona. She has been working at this iconic establishment five days a week for more than twelve years. People seek out a seat at Shelly’s bar not just for a drink, but often to have an extended dinner in her presence. It is Shelly’s gift that keeps them coming in. You see Shelly’s special talent is one that is very scarce, and one that many of us struggle with – she never forgets a name. Ever.
My wife and I frequent this establishment once or twice a year. Shelly always greets us by name, and asks us if we want our favorite drink (did I mention Shelly also remembers your beverage preferences?). Now if we were weekly regulars, I could understand a bartender knowing who we were and what we liked to drink. But with our limited visits to this establishment, Shelly’s ability to remember us, along with all the other customers, puts us in awe every time we visit (and keeps us coming back).
Recently I took a client to the restaurant where Shelly works. This was partly to show off the memorabilia in the restaurant (the facility has a very famous sports collection), and partly an experiment in human nature. I wondered if Shelly would recognize me without my wife, who is my usual companion to the restaurant.
When we arrived, Shelly greeted us immediately. She knew me, but of course didn’t know my client as he was from another state. She not only greeted me by name and knew what I wanted to drink, but asked how my wife was (calling her by name of course) and also inquired about her latest business (which she knew had to do with a specific segment of restaurant marketing – which Shelly also remembered). Super Shelly had struck again.
My brain is not wired like Shelly’s. Like many people, I struggle to remember people’s names. While I do employ tactics to connect with people to remember them (where they went to school, what are their hobbies, what teams they root for, where they grew up, etc.), committing to memory hundreds of names of people we don’t regularly encounter is a gift I do not possess.
I’ve never asked Shelly how she does it, but honestly I don’t want to know. If she employs some Jedi mind trick to pull this off, it would kill Super Shelly’s legacy in my mind. I choose to believe that it comes to her naturally and that she has a special gift, one that I have never seen before, and likely won’t ever encounter again.
If you have a “Super Shelly” in your life, celebrate their gift. There may never be another one like them.