Gettysburg Gifts: Courtney Schaeffer

Written by Tony Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari , Tony Mussari &
Bill Gaydos

One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others. Lewis Carol

I met Courtney Schaeffer three hours before the screening ofGraphic Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg. To be very honest it was a very stressful time. Kitch and I were anxious about just about everything from the safety of people driving to the screening to the way people would react to the documentary.

One of our biggest concerns was timing. We had a limited window in the theater, and many things to accomplish during that time.

Obviously we were concerned about the atmosphere, the look and the feel of the event. We had great cooperation from a number of people including theater manager Dan Spence.

But as always is the case there was one loose end.


All of our screenings are gratitude events. Yes, the documentary is important, but for us, saying thank you to the people who helped us produce it is equally important. We are gratitude people, and we make no apology for that.

Kitch and I spent a considerable amount of time during the two weeks prior to the screening talking about our gratitude gifts. Once we decided what we thought was appropriate, it took several days and the cooperation of many people to create these gifts.

On the day of the screening we had another problem. How could we get 25 gifts from the hotel into the theater before our guests arrived? We were invited to a private meeting at 4 p.m. to discuss the program. The premiere would begin at precisely 5 p.m., and our guests were scheduled to arrive between 4:30 p.m. and 4:45p.m.

I decided to visit the theater sometime after 2 p.m. to ask forIcs_3038 help. That’s when I met Courtney Schaeffer.

Courtney is young enough to be my granddaughter, but mature in all the ways that matter. She began working at The Gateway Theater six years ago. Today she is an assistant manager.

She is respectful and welcoming. When you talk with her she is focused on the conversation. She is not distracted. She is a good listener, and an excellent problem-solver.

When you are with Courtney, the human connection is genuine. No stroking, no manipulation, there is a fundamental goodness about this young woman, and you get the impression she wants to help you.

She has mastered the art of customer service. Her first question consisted of five magical words:

How can I help you?

Her actions affirmed and spoke louder than her words:

C& K_3026 “I think there is a place where we can put the gifts, and I will help you get them into Auditorium 2, before your guests arrive.”

She calmed my fears, and she worked with me to find a solution. She understands that little things and attention to details are important.

Together we checked out two locked rooms, and Courtney volunteered to clear off a desk in the room we selected to guarantee the safety of the framed pictures.

Because of Courtney’s willingness to inconvenience OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA herself and her willingness to give a guest much more than he had a reason to expect, everything went smoothly.

For more than 40 years I have been studying, practicing and teaching the principles of customer service. Courtney Schaeffer is not yet 20 years old, and she has mastered the art of customer service.

She exemplifies Jeff Bezos’ philosophy:

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.

In my opinion, Courtney Schaeffer is a shining example of what America is all about on its best day. She did her job. She did it well. She did it with dignity and class in a way that helped to make the evening a success. In her work and the way she treats people, she models the values represented by the Medal of Honor

She lives the words of Albert Einstein:

Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.

She is a Gettysburg gift.

Thank you Courtney, Kitch I will never forget your kindness and your help.

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