Peper column Mr. Eddie

Mr. Eddie greets one of the visitors to Roper Hospital's Medical Office Building. Warren Peper/Provided

He’s known simply as Mr. Eddie. He grew up on Charleston’s East Side and will tell you he drives a spotless Dodge truck.

His job? Technically he’s the parking attendant for Roper Hospital’s Medical Office Building at 125 Doughty St. But his mission and his commitment goes way beyond that seemingly mundane task.

Every morning, Monday through Friday, patients arrive in Mr. Eddie’s parking lot nervous and unsure about what they may learn when they enter the doctor’s office. The first person they encounter, though, is Eddie Jameson, who is essentially there to see that the patient’s car is properly parked. But the 60-year-old provides a much greater service than that.

Always upbeat, it’s Mr. Eddie who offers hope and puts each patient at ease as he greets them — often by name.

“They don’t know if they have diabetes, or might need amputation. Some are about to learn they have cancer. I just love people ... and I want to help.”

Those are Mr. Eddie’s words on why he performs his job as he does.

According to the people who are on the receiving end of Mr. Eddie’s kindness, he’s the same guy, every day. If Mr. Eddie’s got his own problems, nobody knows — he’s too busy making sure every person who drives into his parking lot is treated like family.

The apple and the tree

If you push Mr. Eddie on explaining his reasons for taking such a personal, proactive approach to his job, you get this response: “It’s in my heart. You gotta be careful how you treat people, you don’t know when you’re entertaining angels.”

Does hearing that make you feel awful about criticizing or pointing out the worst in people?

Eddie Jameson clearly got something from somebody that many others didn’t. He credits his caring capabilities to his mother, who died in 1997.

“I never could understand how she got along with everybody,” he says matter-of-factly.

She did, though, and so does Mr. Eddie.

“I woke up this morning, that’s a blessing, that’s therapy for me,” beams Mr. Eddie.

When the next car pulls into his lot, he quickly passes that energy and sincerity to the patient and everyone else in the vehicle.

Mr. Eddie also remembers names, dates, the relatives and seems to know every doctor that patient might be going to see. He also admits that he’s become so attached that he’s attended a few funerals.

I don’t know many parking attendants who feel obliged to pay their respects. The thing is, family members seem uplifted by Mr. Eddie’s thoughtful presence.

Validate your parking?

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Eddie Jameson is known all around the Roper parking lot, and people know him for all the right reasons. In addition to his customers, he also knows the hematologists, oncologists and administrators inside that building.

Mr. Eddie is the ultimate customer service representative. Nobody told him to be that way, he just is.

During some recent 90 degree days, that blacktop parking lot was a rather uncomfortable setting in which to be pleasant.

“ ‘Lawd, it’s hot,” Mr. Eddie recently observed.

But when asked why he exhibits such an outgoing, welcoming spirit, he replied simply, “Ain’t nobody coming here ‘cause they don’t have anything else to do.”

Jameson understands he’s the first and last person the patient sees. They might get some bad news in between, but he’s trying to make their arrival and departure less stressful.

On this Labor Day that celebrates the worker, it’s hard not to respect somebody who cares that much about his job and the impact it can have on others. Our culture isn’t geared to look for the good in people anymore, but it’s on full display in Mr. Eddie’s parking lot. And nobody deserves a ‘Mr.’ in front of his name more than he does.

Reach Warren Peper at peperwarren@gmail.com.

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