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Silent goodbye to an icon

Since 1924 Benny’s has been a Southern New England institution. What began as a neighborhood tire stand in Providence, RI grew into a New England icon with 31 homesy, local locations. After 93 years providing a unique retail shopping experience, Benny’s bolts its doors for good this Christmas. 


Benny’s connects to a simpler past. Locals know employee names: A real-life Cheers! without Norm and Cliff, it stands in opposition to the faceless Internet shopping experience. 


So what does Benny’s closing have to do with healthcare facility director recruitment and education, which is our specialty here at Gosselin/Martin Associates?   


Last week I was in Benny’s, looking for extra Christmas candles and lights. As I strolled through rows of dwindling merchandise, I heard a Manager yell good-bye to a customer, wistfully saying “I’ve been here for 35 years, it’s the only job I have on my resume.”


Later while checking out, I heard a cashier tell a customer she was looking for new work. While ringing up his items, she gave the customer extra paper bags that featured the Benny’s logo. She told him she was using the bags to wrap her books, keeping the Benny’s memory alive; she encouraged him to do the same.


As I drove away I thought of the manager and cashier and their quest for work. I felt for their plight, Benny’s was the only employment they knew. While thinking of them I thought of a comment made during one of our recent Beyond Competency: Healthcare Facilities Leadership programs. 


“If you talk too much you don’t learn.”


For some reason, my brain connected that advice to those job seekers. To be sure an inelegant connection, but the words are instructive for all, be it at work or home. 


Listen to others, don’t just hear. Listen to the thoughts you find in your silence.


Peter Martin


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