the little old lady from pasadena.

evening full of unexpected events at work.

like this one old lady–you know the little old lady from pasadena? well, her.
she comes in wanting a certain product that we no longer carry in the store.
catalog/internet only.
apparently, she had been thinking of this perfect gift–of which she needed two–for the past year. and now, a year later, she decides she wants to purchase it. if this lady had come last year when she was thinking about it, i think we still would have carried it. but now, a full year and two discontinued sale seasons later, it is nowhere in the system…
except online.
she did not want to order it online so she opted to make another selection.

i showed her platters, picking up every one since her feeble arms could not hold them. i told her where each was made, the material from which it was made, and the price. she still couldn’t let go of her original selection…nothing else was quite right.
i tried to walk away a few times, leaving her to make her own selection, but she continued to reel me in.
high maintenance doesn’t quite describe her.
i finally broke away, leaving her alone to wander about the store in search of another perfect gift.

later, as i was on the phone handling yet another customer service issue, i saw her in the front talking to paul in the cookware section. i assumed she made a selection because a few moments later paul declared he needed to go downstairs to get some cookware.
a decision had been reached…finally.

i was still on the phone when he came to ring her up, stating she needed them both wrapped and a gift receipt for both.
as if we hadn’t helped her enough–the past hour at least…
as if we hadn’t endured her being a royal pain enough–trying our best to make her happy…
as if we had nothing better to do than for each of us to wait on her–as if she was the only customer…

paul tried printing the gift receipt but some malfunction occurred so i stepped in, only making it worse. i got on the phone with store support, trying to figure out why the computer was having issues. the little old lady looked at me–as paul is tying the bow on her package–and asked if i could tie the bow on any faster.
oh no she didn’t…
why yes, she did.

i looked at her, as i’m on hold, trying to help her with something else, and replied, “no. i am already on the phone helping you with something else, trying to get the computer to print your gift receipt. paul is doing exactly what you’ve asked him to do and i’m going to let him finish it.”
i couldn’t believe it…she had just spent the last hour+ with at least one of us walking around her, trying to please her, and she now has the audacity to imply that paul–who has been nothing but helpful to her–is being slow?

ironic as it may seem, paul ran out of ribbon and had to venture to the stock room for more. she looked at me as if she had just been abandoned. i explained–again, what paul had just said to her–that he ran out of ribbon to finish her package and had to go get some more.
her impatience continued to grow.
i continued to wait on my turn in the queue for store support.
as paul finished the final bow, i printed out her second gift receipt. she did not act gracious in the least as she prepared to leave…almost leaving the gift receipts i had just printed at the counter. as she fumbled around in her purse, that until now had been tightly clutched underneath her armpit, i thought of how helpful paul and i had been, contrasted with how she had been nothing but a pain in the rear-end…in attitude and neediness.

as she turned to go, i noticed that she had left something behind. i looked a little closer and noticed that she had left two pamphlets at the cash register…one for me and another for paul.
are you kidding me?
i knew it by sight.
i could not believe it.
this little old lady had left behind a track entitled “the incomparable christ.”
i was astounded, actually. had she not realized what a ________ (fill-in-the-blank with a few choice words) she had been and now she is attempting to give us something? does she think she has earned the right to be heard…or that we would even listen to anything she has to say after the way she treated either of us?

i looked at it, crumpled it up, and threw it in the trashcan…in disbelief, in shock, and in offense.
this lady and i probably ascribe to similar beliefs but the way in which we live them out couldn’t be more opposite. does she really think that her words–or the words of another–actually weigh more than her actions?

maybe this little old lady should try proselytizing somewhere else–somewhere where she might find people more receptive to her “i’m-the-center-of-the-universe, please me now, my way right away, please do everything for me because i can do nothing for myself, i’m going to treat you with absolutely no respect or value, what do you mean you don’t have what i want” self.

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an ability.

Love is not a feeling, Mr. Burns. It’s an ability. ~Marty Barasco, Dan in Real Life.

it was the second time i’ve seen this movie and for the second time, i am struck by this declaration. love as an ability…what does that mean? is love innate…or must it require work? in pondering over this statement, i think i might have to agree. an ability does not have to be one that comes natural to us, but one that is refined within us. it takes effort, it takes talent, it takes the decision to make it work.

love as an ability.
love as an action.
love as an act of the will.
love as determination.
love as power or capacity within ourselves.

we must choose to love…it doesn’t always come natural–or rarely does it.
we must choose to bestow love towards another…even when we feel they do not deserve it.
we must choose to lavish love on another…especially when they’ve hurt or betrayed us.
we must choose to love…when it’s not easy, our feelings do not dictate it, or we feel like we have nothing to give.

an ability? maybe.
all i know is that it is more–far more–than simply some feeling that comes and goes, that changes direction, that leaves one ambiguous, and uncertain. love is an action that requires our choice, our determination, our willingness to be vulnerable, and our willingness to accept others as they are.

rise above it.

Knowing how to stay calm, confident, focused and optimistic when the pressure is on is an important skill for a PGA player and for a top sales person.”
–Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., performance lecturer

louis once told me that you must rise above it–rise above the situation. that sometimes it literally takes you getting above the situation to see past, or over, it. when he used to work for disney, he said the manager would physically stand on the furniture in order
to see above the crowd,
to see above the chaos,
to see beyond the situation at hand.

it offered new perspective,
it offered new insight,
and it offered seeing the bigger picture.

these words rang true today as a lady began yelling at one of the sales associates. i was on my break but had come down to the sales floor for something when i began helping our new manager find something for a customer. there were a lot of people, a lot of things going on around the cash registers. that’s when i saw it…or heard it.
i heard the angry voice of a customer yelling–yes, yelling–at margaret, mild-mannered, old-enough-to-be-my-mother, caring, loving, and so kind margaret. the one you would never expect to be getting reamed by some lady who apparently didn’t like the company policy that was explained to her.
i could tell it wasn’t pretty…by the voice, by the look of another sales associate, and by the shocked look on margaret’s face. i got louis’ attention with my eyes and nodded in margaret’s direction…as i was on the phone, or two phone calls.
long story short but the interaction exploded, leaving with the lady vowing a customer complaint…her oldest son threatening margaret that they weren’t finished with her yet. craziness, actually.

margaret handled it like a champ. she moved on and didn’t say another word about the situation…whereas the others involved couldn’t help but talk about it. as she clocked out to leave, she told louis that they were allowing this customer to have too much power because they were still talking about it. she said it just wasn’t worth it.

giving someone too much power by continuing to talk about it.
giving someone too much power by failing to get over the situation.
giving someone too much power by allowing it to affect you, your mood, your perspective, your outlook.

today, margaret taught me how to rise above it, how not to let the small things in life affect the bigger things, and how not to give someone too much power–someone who doesn’t deserve it.

i’m grateful for the lesson margaret taught me today…i just hope that next time i can handle it with as much grace, dignity, perspective, strength, and power as margaret.

acceptance.

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you don’t need to change their minds about people’s disabilities, you need to change their minds about themselves. for years, i didn’t want to except who i was.
~professor padrow, music within.

we must accept who we are…in order to love ourselves, in order to see ourselves as we truly are.
we must accept who we are…in order to see our limitations for what they are and their potential.
we must accept who we are…in order to change people’s minds about how they view us.

it is a story of how those with disabilities are viewed–their limitations, their opportunities (or lack thereof).
it is a story of self-acceptance, self-actualization, self-empowerment.
and it is a story of making a difference.

the differences that you make that are the ones of lasting importance are the little differences that you make in the lives of another person.
~ron livingston, playing the character richard pimentel, who makes a difference for those with disabilities both like and unlike his own, in music within.

we never know what might come.
we never know what might be accomplished.
we never know what opportunities lie before us.
we never know the little differences that can be made.
we never know the lasting impression…or the lasting impact made.

wisdom in unlikely places.

i did it.
i went to see it.
i checked it out to see what all the hype was about.
MV5BMTQxNTY5MDg3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzMxNDc1MQ@@._V1._CR0,0,433,433_SS100_…even though i’ve never seen one episode of the television show,
didn’t know the storyline or the plot,
or really could care less about seeing the movie, actually.
josh, lydia, and i spent 3 hours of our day off–all of us having the same day off–at the movies.

the movie involves numerous sexual exploits of the characters, a given.
the movie consists of fashion at its finest–at least touted as such.
the movie centers on relationships–the relationships of 4 female friends and the males in their lives.
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some parts of the movie are totally outside the confines of normality–or at least, mine.
while some parts had me crying at the reality of the situation–or at least as it parallels my own.
and surprisingly, i found wisdom in the most unlikely places…in sex and the city.

you can’t stop being who you are because you’re afraid. ~carrie bradshaw.

even if it means wearing a bird in your hair…on your wedding day. MV5BMjE3NDUxODA4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDE0NDk3._V1._CR0,0,274,274_SS80_
or if it means walking away from a relationships where you no longer feel free to be yourself.

we were perfectly happy before we decided to live happily ever after.
~carrie bradshaw in reference to her life with “big” before deciding to get married.

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so many times i find myself becoming discontent with my life the more i try to fit into other’s perceptions or expectations of myself…rather than living life as it comes.
it is often when i try to be someone i’m not,
taking control of my life,
ordering my life in the way i had envisioned it to be,
allowing others to dictate my life according to their perceptions,
and trying to live my own fairy tale,
that i mess up the happiness i have.

maybe some labels are best left in the closet….maybe when we label, we see past the person.
~the voice of carrie bradshaw as the movie comes to a close (possible paraphrase of the quote, if not the exact words).

sometimes we allow labels to define others.
sometimes others allow labels to define us.
sometimes labels serve to validate our perceptions–whether faulty or accurate–of both ourselves and others. at least for me, i have been challenged to think about the labels i apply to others–
why,
their necessity,
and to what gain
–as well as the labels i apply to myself.

good wisdom…
in surprising places.