Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yard Sale

Last week I helped a family that was refurnishing their home. They bought a crap load of furniture and totally made our day. And the weird thing is . . . they were really nice. They didn't make crazy demands or yell at me just because they could. They didn't bitch about our selection and ask me why we didn't have what we don't have. The whole family made thoughtful comments and observations; it felt like we were having a conversation about their needs instead of the usual crap of customers wanting me to shake the product around to make it look alive, only to have them reject it, as I knew they would.

At a job where I am likely to hear eye-roll inducing comments such as "If everyone had a chair like this, there would be no war," it is a constant struggle to say positive. Every transaction feels frivolous. So many self-indulgent customers shopping for shit they don't need because they are bored. Sometimes I feel like part of the problem; our "customer service" enables them to keep up the crappy attitudes and use shopping as stress relief. I quell the thoughts that tell me I am a hypocrite and a fraud.

Defeated and struggling, I decided to escape to the cookbooks. I was thumbing through of the the Barefoot Contessa books that my co-workers are always raving about and read several of the introductions. The party book really got to me. Basically, I can sum it up with "eat simply, eat well, love your friends and family." Of course there were gorgeous pics of set tables and all the accessories that make them lovely, but after glancing through half the book, I really did want to have a party and invite all my favorite people.

My job does not directly help people. Everyday I must decide whether I will let the petty grievances consume me or whether I will rise above it and make something special out of every moment. Working with good customers builds community; working with bad ones builds patience. There is an art to entertaining. Can we not appreciate a beautiful table, decorated to delight the senses for an evening? And the ritual of celebration, with colors, shapes, and objects, that for better or worse, become engraved in our memories? I am so lucky to live how and where I do. It just happens that possessions play a large part of it.

And so goes the battle between thoughless consumerism and tangible object appreciation . . .

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