Today, I hung up on the CEO of a major consulting, branding, marketing, capital advisory firm who had called after reading my blog.
It was an accident.
This is what happens when you swim in uncharted waters. You are so used to swimming alone, you don't even recognize a life saver when it's thrown right in front of you.
The outpouring of support after my initial blog post has been tremendous, I don't even know where to start. Park Slope Parents? The woman who left me cash with the stipulation that I only spend it on food? (Hello, Whole Foods!) My former customers who wrote to me just to say thanks? The woman who left a gift from Little Things, another local shop, for my daughter? I would like to thank each person individually, and send Christmas presents to all of those who shared their struggles with me. I am fortunate, and nothing makes you count your blessings more than when you are faced with those less fortunate.
I mean, who the hell am I?
I am someone who is so used to telemarketers calling me that when the first one called today, I allowed him to keep trying to sell me something because he was so good. I've had shitty jobs before. I had a boss who stood over me with a stopwatch clocking how long I could keep people on the phone. Telemarketing is miserable work, and I figured if he stayed on the phone, it would look good to his boss. It was an easy bone to throw. And unlike what he said, (repeatedly) "Karen, ya gotta spend money to make money," I hoped I helped his bottom line by spending nothing but time.
So, when someone called with a real offer of help at the end of the day, I threw a punch. "So," I sneered after I heard banking something or other and assumed it was another sales pitch, "Are you gonna give me money? " I mean I actually laughed, thinking how absurd the timing was. Are boiler rooms calling me because they know I"m vulnerable?
At that very moment, customers started coming in, and I thought back to what a fellow retailer had told me that morning about Verizon sending 30 "shoppers" to his store to film a commercial. He was still collecting royalties. I was so happy for him, and thought maybe that's what all this was... that this guy on the phone was part of my big "Bar Rescue" moment! I knew I wore deodorant for a reason today! My family watches that show together, and I've been scolded for interrupting it with my whiney lamentations of "Why can't Jon Taffer rescue my shop?" Was this it? I was ready!
Thankfully, this person, (like all of you I imagine want to remain anonymous) persevered. He talked to me. His confident voice was a clear beacon in the fog of my head. He told me how his wife showed him the article. How he was a neighbor. He wasn't selling me anything. He was offering me help. Like so many of you offering your services right now, I was stunned. Hearing all of your voices of support and encouragement has made me stronger. Retail can be a lonely job. There are no "attaboys" at the end of the day. Or year. Your time out of the corporate world can leave you feeling alienated from everyone else; and you forget.
You forget you are not alone.
You forget you have a valuable service.
You forget that some people want to give. And you forget how to receive.
But, like I teach my kids, you never forget to say thank you.
You can see my progress on my (free) website as I go forward with your support.