One of the facets of being the verger of St. Alban’s Parish is being the purchasing agent, or in government terminology, the procurement officer. Most of the time the challenge is in finding just the right thing to fulfill a need and to scout out the most economical source for a product or a service, whether that is a case of fluorescent tubes, a gigabit network switch, or a fire-safety service company. In addition to considerations of need and economy, I also consider, when possible, using a source that needs the business. This week was just such an occasion.
St. Alban’s is the grateful recipient of a gift of a sectional sofa from a parishioner. Like all such gifts the question arises – how to get it from the donor’s place to ours. No resources within the parish materialized within the timeframe in which the move had to be accomplished, so I turned to commercial sources. I knew I wanted one of those “two guys and a truck” outfits and turned to Google to find one. The search yielded many results, but in reading through the first page it was pretty clear that none were really two guys with a truck but companies with hundred of trucks and thousands of guys that had appropriated various forms of the phrase for marketing purposes. It was disappointing that they were making it difficult to find what I was looking for, which was just two guys and a truck. But I kept trying different search terms and way down on one page, in the second or third line of one listing, I saw “My name is …” followed by a man’s name and a couple of more lines that indicated I had indeed found just what I was looking for.
So I called the number and reached the man whose name was on the listing, and sure enough, it is one guy who has a truck and who has been in the moving business as a sole proprietor in the DC area for 35 years. And his rate was surprisingly reasonable. So I negotiated with him and the donor a pickup time and met him at St. Alban’s for the delivery. He had a helper of course – one man can hardly move an 88” sofa alone. His experience in moving was immediately apparent, It was near genius the way he positioned and maneuvered the sofa up the stairway to the second floor of the rectory. All this was done in a heavy rainfall during which they protected the sofa from the rain but not themselves, being quite soaked when it was all done.
It was a good experience: mission accomplished and at reasonable cost, but the most satisfying part was in throwing our business, modest though it was in this instance, in his direction. I have this need recurringly and am glad to have found him. And I’ll use the Parish Admin ListServe to recommend him to others. It is a good feeling.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 08-Oct-2013