Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Five cents, please...

My given name is Stacey, but clearly the name Lucy would be more fitting. I am surrounded by books and candy, but really I need a little can that people can deposit change in to and perhaps a couple of bottles of something strong to drink behind me.

My desk area at work is sort of like a bar. People come in to shop or drop their kids off for classes and at any given time I am bound to have people surrounding me with their tales of woe. "Am I teaching enough?" "Did I chose the right curriculum?" "Should I put them back in traditional school?" "How do you make fettuccine Alfredo?" "How do you get such smokin' hot highlights?" And those are the MILD topics. I relish those days where these are the toughest questions. Other days I am faced with things like "Someone is spreading gossip that my child is having sex!" "Did you know my husband had an affair?" "Why do you let students attend classes here who dress like whores?" I mean, THESE days just about do me in!

The unwritten rule of customer service is that it is not all about selling someone a product and ringing it up. It is really 'relationship' service. People come in here and they don't want to just shop, they want to TALK. Because we are a small business, we can grant that need. The thing is, however, we are not really trained to answer all of life's big questions! We can only do the best that we can. I know that's all that I can do. For example, last week I had a mom in here who has been coming in here for almost two years. She talks to me about the SAME EXACT THING each week - is her son getting enough work, does she need to give him more schoolwork, does he need to be involved in more activities (he's a 7th grader in all high school classes - he's a brilliant boy) - I mean my ears are usually ready to bleed by the time she leaves. Her latest dilemma to add itself to her roster is that they don't share the same friends! GASP! This just about threw me over the ledge. I mean, my kids are friends with people that I don't particularly have anything in common with their parents. And that's okay. I am friends with people who have kids that my kids don't like. And that's okay, too! So I'm listening to this woman trudge on and on through her weekly diatribe and I looked her right in the eye and with great sincerity I said to her, "You have to realize that you and your son are NOT one person." I thought it was pretty sound advice. I was feeling pretty good. It was a life lesson that I had to learn when my son was her son's age. And do you know what happened??

She BURST in to tears! In two years, she's never cried! And in one moment where I thought that I was at my level best, I made the woman cry! I still don't know if my comment hurt her feelings or if she realized that the statement was true!

There is a great Peanuts comic strip that I have at home. Charlie Brown is sitting at Lucy's 'therapy' counter and he is complaining about life, how he doesn't fit in, it's unfair, blah, blah, blah. So she takes him away from the desk and up on to a hill and points out the world around them. "Do you see this world? As far as you know it's the only world out there?" To which he replies "Yes". The last frame has her screaming at him "WELL LIVE IN IT THEN!!!"

Oh, to be Lucy for just one day!

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