We never know when life is going to mete out the next lesson it deems we need to learn but I have learned certain signs that precipitate serious learning in my life.
One of those ways always begins with Gimalle, my lovely wife, beginning a sentence with these words.
“We need …”
The lesson I was taught the first time I heard those words was that “we” does not include me and that “need” does not mean “have to have,” it means “want.”
The second lesson was that “want” means right now, immediately, let’s go, move it.
Last week’s lesson began one nanosecond after I had settled comfortably into the Lazy Boy, positioned all the life sustaining necessities required for serious TV watching exactly where they could be reached with least expenditure of energy and pressed the “Play Movie” button on the remote.
“We need a duvet.”
I immediately leaped to obey the commands hidden deep within that statement; turned off the movie, placed Lazy Boy back in an upright position for landing and returned everything else to its rightful place in the kitchen.
Moments later we were in the car hurtling towards the first of every place in the city that sells duvets.
The first store we entered was one of those places that sell everything that one could possibly need for a home.
Naturally, the duvet section was strategically placed at the furthest point from the entrance necessitating a microscopic exploratory tour of the dinnerware, pots and pans, trinkets, gargoyles, lawn ornaments, candles, pet supplies and shower curtain sections of the store. We finally arrived, some 23 hours later or so it seemed, at the part of the store marked Sleepware.
And there it was, exactly what we set out to find, a huge display of things in very large plastic bags, tucked neatly next to each other and beneath a sign proclaiming “Down Filled Duvets.”
I remember breathing a huge sigh of relief thinking Iwas so close to having a Lazy Boy back in my future.
Right about that moment I noticed a display of equal size, off to the right underneath a sign declaring “Synthetic Duvets.”
This immediately brought questions to mind that must be answered before decisions can be made, and we immediately went in search of anyone who looked as if they might actually work there.
We finally found one, a young woman wearing a uniform shirt and a button inquiring “How may I help you today?” We immediately blocked all openings in order to prevent her from escaping and asked the obvious question. “What is the difference between a down filled duvet and a synthetic duvet?”
She stared us for a moment in order to ensure that we were in fact asking a serious question and not simply wasting her valuable time and then told us that she had no idea and that she would go and ask the manager.
We dutifully returned to the duvet section and waited for her to get back to us. A few minutes later she returned with this explanation which, I swear, is transcribed here verbatim. “My manager says that the difference between a down filled duvet and a synthetic one is that a down filled duvet is filled with down and a synthetic one is filled with synthetics. Do you have any other questions?”
A few questions did indeed come to mind however I chose not to ask them. Gimalle and I decided that it would be unfair of us to expect any additional form of assistance from staff in the store considering how much help they had already given us and we headed off to another store in search of our new duvet.
Here we encountered a large selection duvets right next to an equally large section marked “Comforters.”
Of course we needed to learn the difference between the two. Fortunately for us a young lady appeared in front of us, perhaps having not realized there were customers in the aisle she had turned into. We posed the question to her.
Her answer was enlightening. She told us that a duvet was filled with down and that a comforter was not.
Being the type of person I am, you know, the kind who likes to spoil things for everyone, I pointed to a sign in the comforter section that said “down filled comforters?”
She took the piece of gum she was chewing out of her mouth, placed it on the tip of her finger, stared thoughtfully at it for a few moments, turned and gave me the look one usually reserves for the village idiot, shrugged her shoulders, said “beats me,” turned and walked away.
Off to store number three.
It was at this store that we received the most enlightening piece of information of all. Here is where a highly trained and professional employee informed us that it was all a matter of semantics. She explained that if you are just ordinary folks, like, you know, most people, you know, then you, like, call it a comforter.
But if you think you are like better than everyone else, you know, like pretentious, you know, then you like call it a duvet.
We had set out earlier that day to buy duvet and so in that moment we chose to be pretentious and we bought one. We had simply had enough of being like most people, you know.
Life is truly wonderful and full of surprises, and when you least expect it, it teaches you yet another lesson. And so I learned a few other things that I had not known before.
To all you males out there I would like to ask these two questions:
- Are you aware that your bed has a skirt?
- Do you have any idea what a sham is?
If you answer yes to either of these questions then I know of three stores that are sincerely interested in hiring you.
There is a point to this story and I’m sure you are all wishing I would get to it. The point is this: we have talked many times about how we only ever do one thing; we do what is important to us in the moment.
So why is it that it is important enough for businesses to spend vast sums of money on advertising in order to lure us to their premises and yet it is not important enough to invest the time and effort necessary to train their staff to give us an enjoyable shopping experience when we get there.
Why is it important to spend huge amounts of money on inventory and seemingly unimportant to educate the very people they hire to help them dispose of that inventory.
The lesson is this: when we promise others an experience, we need to deliver on that promise.
There’s a name for it if we don’t.
It’s called skirting the truth.
That’s really what those two words like mean, you know.
Till we read again.
P.S. The number of emails I have received since publishing my book Life Sinks or Soars – the choice is yours passed the 700 mark this week. It is humbling. If you would like to order your copy please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here and Self Connection will ship one out to you today.