e walk into Elida Road Hardware, an old- fashioned hardware store. No automatic door, not a computer in the building. As we enter the door, two sounds greet us. The sleigh bells of last year, the ones that make that sweet, peaceful tinkle as we open the door. The other sound is the electronic beeper that alerts Andy of our presence.
“Good afternoon, Ryan,” comes the cheerful acknowledgment. Andy Bianco is a very friendly sort of proprietor. He is of medium build and height, well say about 50, and the smile on his face welcomes us.
We walk across the old wood floor with its squeaky spots, and uneven joints. Andy asks us what he can help us with. I tell him we are looking for a spring. He very patiently replies, “I carry lots of springs. Youre going to need to be more specific.”
“Beats me what theyre called; just a spring for an old-fashioned screen door.”
“Thats it. A screen door spring. Right down there.” We turn to where he is pointing, and sure enough, there they are.
I pick up one and follow him to the counter. He figures up the price, doing the math in his head. “$1.88, with Uncle Sams share comes to $1.99.”
“Put it on Pops account.” He nods and smiles, remembering that this is the third item this week that received that verdict. “Good Pops account,” he chuckles. “I dont know what you boys would do without Pops account!”
He hands me the ticket and as I sign it I ask rhetorically, “You really trust my signature?”
His reply startles, yet gladdens me. “When I cant trust Jerry Hoovers boys, I cant trust anybody!”
What Andy Bianco said that day still rings in my ears today. Thats a tall order to live up to. Its a high standard of integrity. My father made a reputation for that name, and I get to enjoy the benefits thereof. But by the same token, I must maintain that reputation. And thats serious business.endprint