Good morning, and thanks for calling Jammin Sportswear. This is Krickitt."
When I called Jammin that fall morning in 1992, I had expected to be greeted by a bored-sounding customer service rep that would rather have been spending her morning doing anything other than answering a phone. But what I got was quite the opposite. When Krickitt said, "Good morning," it sounded like she meant it. And she even sounded like a cricket, all chirpy and upbeat.
"Hi, Krickitt," I answered her, "I'm Coach Kim Carpenter from New Mexico Highlands University. I'm calling about the baseball coaches' jackets in your catalog."
I have loved baseball from the time I was a little kid. I could always see myself coaching someday, just like my dad, so when I got my first coaching job with the Highlands Cowboys in Las Vegas, New Mexico, it was a dream come true. But even dreams have their mundane moments, and so I found myself ordering jackets for my assistant coaches and myself.
That first conversation with Krickitt was in no way the stuff movies are made of, but even so, as we discussed prices and colors, I got more and more interested in this telephone salesperson with the unique name. She was so refreshingly friendly and helpful that I couldn't help feeling like my day was better just from having spoken to her.
Our conversation ended, but I couldn't stop thinking about this girl named Krickitt. There was just something different and special about her voice and personality that I really couldn't explain. I could tell this wasn't just a job for her, it was more like a mission. It was as if she had decided to be the friendliest, most helpful person her customers talked to every day. If that was the case, then she was a roaring success in my mind.
I decided to call again a few days later to follow up on the order. "Good morning, and thanks for calling Jammin. This is Keri." Hmm … Keri. Not the voice I wanted to hear. I quickly had to face the fact that I was calling for a reason other than just checking up on those jackets. Keri sounded like a nice woman, but the fact was that I wanted to talk to Krickitt. I had to make it happen, so I thought fast.
"Hi Keri, I'm following up on an order with Krickitt."
"Just a minute." I could feel my heart racing as I waited.
"Hi, this is Krickitt. What can I do for you today?"
"Hi, Krickitt. This is Coach Carpenter from Highlands University. I called about a jacket the other day."
As Krickitt looked up my information, I had a few seconds to think. What was it about this Krickitt person that all of a sudden made me feel like I was a nervous, lovesick teenager? She was just a sales rep doing her job, and she was in California, not New Mexico, where I was. I pushed those thoughts aside as I asked her for some color samples before ending the conversation.
When the samples arrived, I spread them out on a table. My thoughts started going in unexpected directions. Did she pick out these colors herself? Had she held the samples in her hands? Whoa, there! Settle down! I couldn't figure out what was happening to me, or why it was happening. I was a grown man, after all!
I put those thoughts from my mind, yet I was unusually eager to talk to a certain telephone sales rep when I called again to order a purple and gray jacket. "Good morning, and thanks for calling Jammin. This is Krickitt." Success!
"Hi, Krickitt, it's Coach Carpenter. I …"
"Coach Carpenter!" She interrupted with a sense of excitement that surprised me, since she knew I was going to be ordering a grand total of one jacket from her. "It's great to hear from you again."
I wondered what she thought was "great" about it. Was it the prospect of another order, or was it because it was me? I tried to determine if I could sense more than a professional friendliness in the sound of that voice I couldn't get out of my head.
Unsurprisingly, I ordered the jacket. Then I ordered another one in a different style. When it arrived, it was so popular amongst the staff that every coach on the team wanted one, so I ordered some more.
A few months had passed since that first conversation with my favorite salesperson, and by now we spent a lot more time just talking to each other than actually conducting business. Then one day at the end of a call, Krickitt mentioned she wouldn't be working on the day I had been planning to call to check on an order, so she gave me her home number.
After that I started calling Krickitt at her apartment, and before long we stopped pretending the calls were about athletic clothing and spent the time getting to know each other. We often talked for more than an hour. No matter how long we talked, we never wanted to hang up the phone, even when my phone bill rocketed up from almost nothing to $500 a month. Those were the days before e-mail and texting, and few people even had cell phones. Krickitt and I were tied to land lines, but I didn't care about the inconvenience or the expense. She was more than worth it.