Earlier this week I arranged to meet a client for coffee in a part of the city I seldom frequent.
As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed a “For Lease” sign in the window of what had been a large flooring store.
When my friend arrived I asked him if the store had relocated to another part of the city and he told me that “No, they went out of business. Another victim of the recession.”
In answering my question he made two separate but distinct statements. “They went out of business,” and “another victim of the recession” and I began to wonder as to whether those two statements were, in any way, connected.
The first statement is irrefutable; they did go out of business. The reason given is questionable and I have personal experience that suggests that perhaps the recession played no part in the demise of this business.
The story began one evening many months ago.
Gimalle was sitting in our living room when I happened to walk by and noticed that look on her face.
That look. I know it only too well. It’s a look I live in constant fear of because it is a look I have seen before and I know what it means.
It means that life as I know it is being put on hold until this particular itch has been scratched and that for the foreseeable future my evenings and weekends will be spent in search of the essential itch removal product.
That look. It is that blank laser focus, tunnel vision gaze that all husbands would be wise to fear. It is the look that says “I’m going into reno mode and if you’re wise you’ll stay out of my way until I issue further instructions.
That look is always followed first by a statement, “I’m think of (putting in new flooring, painting the living room, ripping out the old bathroom and replacing it, getting a new kitchen, getting rid of this old furniture we bought last year and buying new stuff – the actual content here is irrelevant, the damage about to be inflicted upon you is constant), and then a question, “What do you think?”
The first time I heard that question I assumed it was asked sincerely and immediately launched into what I thought was a brilliantly constructed presentation explaining why the one we had at the time was perfectly good for another twenty years.
I have since learned that there is only one answer to that question and, if you’re a male, you may wisely choose to memorize it. The prudent answer is simply, “You’re right. I agree.”
So that night, like a trained actor, I delivered the above lines with passion, perfection and sincerity which culminated in our visiting the store mentioned above some two months later.
In the preceding two months our evenings and weekends had been filled with the joy of visiting similar stores all over the city but, unfortunately, we had been unable to find the perfect product that we (Gimalle) had our (her) hearts (heart) set on.
We were equally disappointed at our lack of success in finding the perfect product, although for two very different reasons.
Our (Gimalle’s) attention had been drawn to this store by a full page ad they had placed in both of our city’s daily newspapers which featured what appeared to be exactly what we (Gimalle) were (was) looking for.
So off we went.
We were the only customers in the store and after some time perusing, Gimalle found exactly what we (you know what goes here) had spent the past few months looking for and so we looked around for a sales person. The only employee in sight was a young woman seated behind what appeared to be a reception desk.
She saw us looking at her and pointed to the telephone handset she was holding to her ear to indicate that she was not available to assist us as she was committed to her phone conversation.
We walked up to the desk and patiently waited while she explained to Emma that she had broken up with Luke because “he’s like stupid, you know, and it’s like he doesn’t like know what he’s doing and like he never wants to do anything and he’s like sooooo boring and he’s like such a loser.”
By the time she finally hung up the phone I was as mad at Luke as she was. She looked over at us and said “Yes.”
Now I don’t know if this is just me but yes is not a greeting and my level of irritation rises the moment any service provider greets me with that word.
Gimalle began asking a question about the product in the store. The young lady immediately held her hand up in the universal Stop position and explained that she was not in sales but would call upstairs and get one of the salespeople to help us.
We went back to the far end of the store to wait for the sales person.
A moment later our young friend called out to us from the other end of the store to inform us that the one sales person was on his coffee break and the other would come down and help us as soon as she finished the “important” proposal she was working on.
Clearly we were far less important than the proposal.
We asked to see the manager but unfortunately he too was tied up, helping the sales lady complete the proposal.
My understanding is that businesses exist in order to make money. Money is usually made when customers hand it over in exchange for goods or services.
This business, in order to bring us into their store, spent a great deal of money, which presumably they got from previous customers, to lure us into their premises.
We showed up with money (Gimalle apparently has lots of it, I have none) and they had what we wanted and they still didn’t get our money because they forgot that we are not just customers seeking goods or services, we are people seeking decency and civility.
And I’m sure we weren’t the only customers they treated this way who walked out of their store and gave the money we had brought to give them, to one of their competitors.
So I don’t know if they went out of business because of the recession of if they went out of business because they forgot something very important.
What they forgot is that there is only one type of business in the whole world. Regardless of what we do, what we offer or what we sell, we are all in the same business every day of our lives.
It’s called the people business. Remember it. Or you too may become a victim of the recession.
Till we read again.
P.S. The first printing of my book “Life Sinks or Soars – the choice is your” is sold out. I will have more books available shortly. Rael