Yesterday was what I've decided to call a Service Day. Service Days are those days NOT filled with money but with opportunities to be of service emotionally in someone's day.
I spoke to two 90-something-year-olds, three 88-year-olds, a woman whose neighborhood was apparently being buzzed by a police helicopter, a man who agonized for 40 minutes about whether or not to buy a pair of $69 jeans that looked like they were already 10-years-worn-and-torn-during-painting-jobs, and a couple from California who I think I talked into moving to Cincinnati.
Oh! And a woman who, it turns out, is the mother-in-law of my cousin's business partner.
I am increasingly convinced that I have this job just so I can write a book.
I mean, who can make this stuff up???
Oh! And I found out that I am now (what a difference a day makes) one of the top 5 sellers of the entire FLOOR. So that includes all of the people who've been there forever. Even I am impressed with me. (I did not, in fact, get even a pen out of that fact, but my supervisor told me, "People are talking about you." Awesome! I hope what they're saying is, "Let's waive the 6 month waiting period for her to move forward!" I so want to be part of training others to do what I do.
AAAAND, the Corporate FILM CREW came out and was doing some filming on the floor on Thursday and Friday, and I started thinking about how to get myself some work with them as an actor...or a grip... But I digress...)
Arguably my fave call of yesterday was the marvelous African-American woman who did not at first respond when I answered the phone. Per company policy, I repeated my name, the name of the store, and asked if I could help. After a third time, I heard a voice from afar, "Ooh! Oh! Hello! Hello!" and she came rushing to the phone. "Yes, I'm looking for..." and we commenced the seeking of some item from the store. But then she interrupted herself, saying, "UH-oh. UH-oh!!! UH-OH!!!!! WHAT? What's he - UH-oh!"
She didn't sound distraught. She sounded amazed. But I had to ask. You know I did.
"Are you alright, ma'am?" I wanted to know what was going on!
"UH-oh!!! I - oh my...! They's helicopters...!"
Now, I read tones of voice exceptionally well, so I could tell that she was not in danger, thankfully, but was in fact having a Gladys Kravitz moment (think Bewitched): peering through the window at the drama outside and rather enjoying the excitement of it all.
What she said, though, that forced me to - literally - slap my hands across my mouth so I wouldn't laugh out loud, was when she said, "UH-oh! UH-OH!........"
"WHERE'S MY DAMN BINOCULARS!!!!!!"
Whoever that woman is, I am passionately in love with her.
I also spoke with one of the 88-year-old women who is so damn good at computers, and generally saucy, I thought I was talking to my future self.
And I spoke with another 80-something woman who was trying to buy something for her grandchild who just got pregnant. We were looking and looking for the right sleep set for her - and when I thought we were chugging along quite famously, she hilariously - and without any rancor - said, "You know, this really is getting quite boring, isn't it?"
And then there was the couple from California. The man is fully disabled, and has one of those gravelly, slightly Southern voices that for some reason (probably Hollywood's fault) makes you think of truckers, and the woman sounded like a New Yorker. They were looking for something simple: a pair of shoes.
(Simple? HA! This is CHRISTMAS, baby!)
This lovely California couple is traveling around, looking for another house (as well as a pair of shoes for her). I thought maybe they were wealthy and were looking for an extra home in another part of California; but it turned out to be a bit more than that.
It took us a little while to find a pair of shoes that would work for them, and they started to - unnecessarily - apologize for "being a pain". They SO weren't painful - really nice people, and really sweet with each other. I reassured them that being a pain would have included them being really rude or something, and that it was a pleasure to help them, which it was.
They were enchanted by that simple kindness - which is what happens when someone doesn't have a lot of warmth and kindness in their environment: it just doesn't take a whole lot for them to feel cared about - and they started to tell me just a little bit about what's up with them.
They started to reveal their unhappiness with some of the same things that made me unhappy out in Cali, notably the cost of living. They also said they're really REALLY tired of the "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality (I and my friends of course didn't really have that particular problem...). So, after a while it became clearer that they were looking for a place to land OUTSIDE of California. Their third complaint wasn't a complaint so much as a sort of song of yearning. They just wanted to be happier with their existence!
(You want existential conversations at work? Call 1-800-LORI.)
So I said - hey, it'd been a long day and I was tiiiiiiiired - "You should move to Cincinnati." I told them that I've met a number of New Yorkers who want to move here after they've visited. "Now, you wouldn't ever expect that a New Yorker would want to move to the midwest, right?" They were like, "Yeah! Right!" and I could hear in their tone that they were hooked on this story already. So I went on, "But what's drawing them is that there's quality of life here. I paid $1,200 for rent out there, which doubled in one year after I left. I'm paying $475 right now." [Okay, so that was unfair. Tell any Californian - or Bostonian, or New Yorker - that you're paying $475 for rent, and that heat is included, and you're going to cause a swoon.]
"We have a great arts scene here, too."
They jumped in with, "Ooh, we love the arts!" And then, sounding like kids with their faces pressed against the candy store window, they plaintively asked, "Are people NICE there???"
I so got that. It's why I hung out in Livermore when I lived in the Bay Area: it was one place where I could depend on strangers talking to me with connection and warmth when I spoke to them.
I said gently, "Oh, definitely. It's kinda our thing."
So, call me The Cincinnati Ambassador.
Why did I do that? Heck if I know. I think MAYBE it had something to do with octogenarians, helicopters, people talking to me for 40 minutes over $69 jeans and then just saying "oh well never mind I'll just wait", and a Service Day that kept the financial ego in check.
The Cali couple is going to email me at work if they decide to visit Cincy. I'm going to text the daughter of my cousin's business partner, and freak her out by telling her I spoke to her mother yesterday (if I EVER get my replacement phone - another story entirely), and I'm thinking of doing a six-day work week for the next two weeks to get the most money out of the season that I can.
Plus of course I need to convert more outsiders to Cincinnatians.
And I probably need to score me some binoculars.
Do you like the idea of breaking those social "should's" that have held you back for too long? Do you like the idea of successfully changing your modes of communication, your business structures, your self-image, and to your quality of life?
Lori Kirstein, Founder
The Goodbye Good Girl™ Project LLC
The Feminine Face of Business
Cincinnati, OH 45205
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