By Anthony Kimbrough
Mark Twain said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” Granted, Twain made the statement a century ago, but I just can’t agree with the latter part.
Given society and its TV commercials today, naked or half-naked people must have considerable influence. (Seen a lady advertising something on television lately wearing a turtleneck?)
As for “clothes making the man,” I tend to agree. What people wear does matter, especially in the corporate world. And that’s the very reason that the phenomenon we call “casual day” generates considerable discussion.
Around our office, we do casual day on payday. But casual days have created confusion – and some pretty hilarious do’s and don’ts – for corporate America. As companies jump on the casual-look bandwagon, employers and employees clash about appropriate attire. (Admittedly, I’m a bit old-fashioned, but if I can see your underwear while asking you something at work, that’s probably too casual.)
One recent survey noted that many people believe casual days have lowered the standard of workplace dress. Whether that’s good or bad, I’ll leave for debate another day. But this I do believe: American society has become far too casual. What we wear and where we wear it, how we talk, where we talk with cell phones, how we respect houses of worship, and on and on.
Even modern technology and its near-instant electronic communication add to this casualness. We simply don’t respect much anymore and, therefore, approach too many things too casually.
In our business – protecting people and possessions through insurance – there’s one communication we strive to never handle casually. Hopefully no one ever hears a Farm Bureau Insurance agent or employee tell a life insurance beneficiary, “The check’s in the mail.” Though one of the more difficult things an agent does, delivering a check after a loved one’s death is the best reminder of why we do what we do.
“Insuring your new home or automobile, that’s tangible,” explains Neal Townsend, chief marketing officer for Farm Bureau Insurance. “But the most important thing we sell is life insurance, for the intangible. Life insurance is an expression of how much you love your family, and it’s the one product we sell where we know there will be a claim, someday.”
Over a recent seven-month period, Union County agent Paul Smith delivered seven life settlement checks.
“Each situation has its own personal story,” says the 24-year agent. “The one I really remember is where a lady died with cancer who had lived next door to us. We had her husband insured, but not her. She started working and they bought her a policy.
“I remember her saying, ‘Oh, that’s too much,’ about the amount of insurance she ended up buying,” Smith recalls. “About five years later, when she died and her husband came in and I reminded him of the policy amount, he said, ‘Oh, is that all?’ Her hospital bills were more than the proceeds.
“That really struck me – on the front end, it may seem like too much, but on the back end, it always seems like so little.”
It’s the one payday you never want to have, but one for which you should prepare adequately. A Farm Bureau agent can help you do that. And he or she understands there’s absolutely nothing casual about it.