By Ryan Barre, Contributor
Throughout the past 15 years, the McDaniel Bookstore has been what every college wants from a bookstore. McDaniel doesn’t have the biggest bookstore with the most books, nor does it have the largest selection of apparel; however, the service it has provided is unmatched by most other schools thanks to manager Kyle Meloche.
Meloche, born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, has been working at the McDaniel Bookstore since 1992. He began as a student worker that year and after graduating from Western Maryland College with a degree in art history and graphic design in 1994, came back to McDaniel to work at the bookstore full time.
In 1993 Meloche met his wife, Amy, while both were students. They tied the knot in 1997 and more recently gave birth to their first child. Meloche and his wife currently live in Westminster with their 2 ? year-old daughter, Emma, and spend as much time together as possible when he’s not working.
Many people feel that Meloche is genuinely one of the nicest and most caring people working at McDaniel.
“He never fails to greet a customer with a smile and he always seems to be in a good mood,” said senior Dave Grimaldi.
Foreign language professor Dr. Mohamed Esa said that Kyle has a “unique skill.”
“I’ve never seen him lose his temper and he is always polite,” Esa said.
However, just being nice and smiling a lot is not what makes Meloche an unsung hero. It is the tasks that he performs day in and day out, semester after semester that go above and beyond the requirements of a bookstore manager. Almost every member of the student body and faculty that has interacted with Meloche has seen him go out of his way to meet their needs.
“Kyle is more than just a bookstore manager…we depend on him as faculty,” said Donna Evergates, history professor. “He understands what we need and is very sensitive to our needs.”
One thing that everyone agrees makes Meloche so valuable is the knowledge he has in so many areas. One could expect a bookstore manager to know a fair amount about different books in his store but Meloche’s knowledge goes way beyond books. His knowledge of the school’s curriculum is overwhelming, which allows him to help with any problem someone has, regardless of whether they are student or faculty.
“Don’t underestimate him. He knows a lot about the classes here,” said Grimaldi. “He knows what teachers are hard and what classes to take which has helped me when picking classes.”
Senior Dylan Judah said, “If I need a book, I don’t even have to know the name of it. I just tell him the teacher or class and he automatically brings me the book somehow.”
Past faculty members have encountered problems with books for their classes and Meloche has fixed them in an instant. After receiving a book for one of his courses, Esa went to Kyle a day after the semester started and asked if he could get a different book to sell to the students instead of the one he originally wanted.
“Of course he said ‘Sure.’ That and ‘no problem’ are his two main responses when I need something,” said Esa.
Evergates added, “If we have a last-minute request for a book, he gets it over night.”
It’s clear that Meloche loves his job as well as the people and environment at McDaniel. He supports the school in any way that he can and has made contributions that extend far beyond academics.
“I sponsor a lot of events on campus such as German-American Day, and Kyle always supports these events when I ask him to,” Esa said.
Although many people see him as an “unsung hero,” Meloche does not see it that way.
“I am just working hard and doing my job,” Meloche said. “I don’t understand how people can think that of me, especially when I am selling them $150 textbooks.”
In his earlier years at the bookstore, one of the students he knew as a customer invited Kyle to his wedding which he said “hit the spot.” He isn’t sure why he was invited but he was glad that he was.
Despite his somewhat modest approach, Meloche always appreciates recognition. Although he has not been previously recognized by the school, he is grateful for the customer service awards from Barnes and Noble and past stories written about him.
He works approximately 55 hours a week including some Saturdays, limiting time for the hobbies he loves such as fishing and going to the micro-brewery with his friends, yet he never complains. He has been offered multiple positions at regular retail stores but believes that’s not for him.
Every year at Homecoming, between six and eight students come back and say, “Hey, it’s the bookstore guy,” which Meloche highlighted as his best individual experience working at McDaniel. “It just makes me feel good that they remember me,” he added.
Many unsung heroes like Meloche don’t get the public recognition they deserve, but that does not mean they are unappreciated. Esa has known Kyle since he was in school and would love to see him recognized for what he does.
“I don’t know if there are awards to give to staff, but if there are he would be at the top of my list,” said Esa.