And you thought a post office was just a post office, and a library was just a library? Not here in Lenox and not in Lee, where they’re something a whole lot more:
“Budinoffs” are my code word for something extraordinary or special, so outstanding that you would do a lot not to lose it, or be away from it. Or them. Before we leave the Berkshires at the end of the month, I want to salute the current “Budinoffs” in our lives, in Lenox and in Lee, who make it hard to say goodbye.
The original Budinoffs who inspired my code word were two brothers who owned a pharmacy in Great Neck, Long Island. Their faces lit up when you walked in, every time. They remembered your family and what was going on with them, they answered endless questions, they waited with patience on lengthy decisions about cosmetics and other frivols. It was more than simply good service. You felt good just going into the store, cheered up in times of illness (it was, after all, a pharmacy), it was a happy place. Like visiting a friend.
The Budinoff pharmacy was such a comfortable haven that — no kidding! — it was one of the negative factors in moving two towns over. We would look at each other and say, how can we leave Budinoffs? Because, you see, it was irreplaceable. Not that there weren’t other good pharmacies: but theirs was a personality. To us they were a person, a beloved person, and the thought of leaving was painful. Forty-four years ago, and I still remember.
After that we lived for 34 years in suburban Roslyn, and when we left for a rural life in the Berkshires, there were no Budinoffs to sorrow for. No wonder we never looked back!
But now we’re embarking on another new adventure, traveling east over the mountains to Northampton, and this time there are two Budinoffs we leave behind, two beloved “persons,” irreplaceable.
The Lenox Post Office is the strong beating heart of the local community, and that’s because of Karen, Donna, Dionne, and Ed. Each has her or his own personality, but they share certain attributes: No lines are too long for any of them to lose patience, no problem so big they can’t solve it. No patron so rude (and they can be, I’ve seen it) that they are anything but courteous. Their cheerfulness, patience, genuine interest, cooperativeness, neighborliness, good will, and “can-do” spirit are quiet things, but vital ones for the long haul. Collectively they make up a personal “Budinoff,” and the four of them are irreplaceable in our hearts. We tell people that the Lenox Post Office is the best one in the world, and I know they think we’re kidding. But we’re not. Guys, thank you!
The other Budinoff we reluctantly leave behind is a trio in the Lee Library. There are other staff members, but because of hours and circumstance, these three are the face of the library for us. Pat, José, and “Joey” (Josephine): we say goodbye with sorrow and plan to come back as often as possible. It’s no accident that the same adjectives describe the Lee Trio as the Lenox Quartet: cheerfulness, patience, genuine interest, cooperativeness, neighborliness, good will and a “can-do” spirit. To the three of you, for service above and way way beyond, thanks for everything.
A post office, a library — what so often is a faceless corporate entity can, because of extraordinary individuals, be much, much more. Can be a personality, can be a beloved person. Can make it tough to say goodbye and move on.
I’ll bet that every one of you, although you surely have a different word for it, have had “Budinoffs” in your life. If you feel so moved, I invite you to use the comments box to pay tribute to them —