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It Never Hurts to Ask

by Emily O'Shaughnessy

Did you know Taco Bell delivers? Ok, maybe not regularly but they did at least once. To me. It was fantastic.

Several years ago I found myself at an impromptu gathering in a coworker’s backyard. Before long the group got hungry, but realized our options were limited. We wanted something delivered, but weren’t in the mood for the usual pizza or Chinese. Someone made a comment along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be great if Taco Bell delivered?” On a whim I dialed the closest one.

I asked for the manager, who gave me the obvious response that Taco Bell does not deliver. But my sales skills kicked in, and I spent the next several minutes trying to convince him of all the reasons he should bring us food. We were nearby and would tip generously – definitely enough to make it worth his while. I reassured him we weren’t psychos, just fun-loving peoples hungry for nachos bell grande. Unbelievably, he agreed and took our order.

I was skeptical, thinking he was just humoring me to get me off the phone. But 30 minutes later there was a knock at the fence, and we looked over to see a nervous looking guy in a Taco Bell uniform carefully holding two large bags of food. The yard immediately broke out into cheers, and he was our new best friend! We invited him in for a drink and cheered louder when he took a shot of Jack Daniels. It was hilarious. He stuck around for about 20 minutes, laughing and joking with us. I think he welcomed the distraction and a break from the monotony of his daily taco grind. But mostly he knew it totally made our day, and you could tell he was happy that he was able to bring a little joy to others. Even if it was in the form of bean burritos and cinnamon churros.

Now I’m sure if Yum! Brands corporate reads this they wouldn’t find it nearly as humorous as we did. I realize it breaks all kinds of regulations and creates safety and liability issues. For all I know that guy was going to quit the next week and didn’t care if he got fired. Normally I don’t condone breaking rule, but if you can overlook the ones that this nice-but-kinda-nerdy manager broke there is a valuable message in this story: It never hurts to ask.

It’s amazing the things that can happen if you only ask. Last week my friend told a cool story about a time she “just asked.” A few yars ago she was riding in a charity bike race and sent out mass letters to potential sponsors along the Florida A1A route. Reasoning she had nothing to lose, she included celebrities on the list. She was shocked when she got a letter with a $100 donation in the mail from Jimmy Buffett. How cool is that?  It was totally unexpected but very much appreciated.  Once again, it never hurts to ask.

I believe that for the most part, people are good and genuinely want to help others when they can. There are several examples of celebrities agreeing to go to an event with a “regular” person (prom, the Marine Corp Ball, the CMAs, etc.) simply because they were asked and for whatever reason felt compelled to make it happen. Every day companies large and small make donations to support important causes, simply because someone made the request. You never know until you try.

Sometimes, businesses agree to help because it’s good PR. Other times it’s because they feel obligated. But often times, people want to do something nice for someone just because they can. Perhaps to brighten someone’s day. Or week. Or life. People like feel-good stories, and many will welcome the chance to be a part of one whenever possible.

Of course I know that Taco Bell instance was a one-time thing and would never happen again in a million years. But we called the right person at the right place at the right time and did something most didn’t – we asked. And let me tell you, those were the best nachos I ever tasted.

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