My friend, Kathy, sent a text that said she'd given notice to the high-end, innovative gadgetry company for which we'd worked. I left last September and for the following month, was on a roller coaster ride with Dad until he went Home on October 15th. I couldn't have foreseen the events, but I thank God for the time we had with him.
Kathy arrived in the company before Christmas one year at a very difficult time in her own life. Her husband was terminally ill. Her store was about one half hour away, but we exchanged information now and then since we both held the same positions in our stores. Her husband went Home later that spring.
I was excited about her new job. It sounded like the right fit, and we went to my favorite Greek restaurant to celebrate. While we waited for our dinners, I mentioned one of the many things I learned as a result of working at the company where we met.
A lot of the products in the store involved wires, something that, in my life, only men handled. In time, I learned where they went and why, and I felt empowered. "I learned how to run and connect the damned wires for myself," I said. "For the first time in my life it wasn't somebody else doing it."
Kathy laughed. "I never knew how to use electronics before this job either," she said. It became second nature for her. "After a while, I thought, Wow, you don't know how to operate an iPad? That's terrible." We both felt good about what we'd learned.
Customer service was always most important in retail, but most customers don't realize the difference they make over the holidays when they keep a sense of humor or show kindness while they interact in a store, especially with an associate or manager who is experiencing loss or who is undergoing a trial as Kathy was that first holiday season when her husband was ill.
Within the crescendo of noise and busyness of Christmas in retail, there were profound moments of express kindness when it felt in some way that God was present.
I had been writing life scripts for people I love and one that included my career. None of it had gone according to plan for, well, years. I was in a state of malaise when a man walked into our store to purchase a gift for his wife, something to sooth a painful condition in her feet. I showed him a few of our products and remarked that it was wonderful that he cared so much about her feet. He said she was a wonderful wife and he just wanted to make her feel better. He purchased the heated foot spa and left the store with a bounce in his step and returned fifteen minutes later with the foot spa and his wife.
"I'm so embarrassed," he said.
"She's got one already," he replied. His wife smiled. "Well, honey, that's what you get for spending your gift card on me. You should have been spending it on yourself." My jaw dropped.
"Can I ask you a personal question?" I asked.
The wife smiled. "Sure."
"Are you married long?"
"Twenty-eight years. Why do you ask?"
"You're just so kind and thoughtful to each other, so I thought that--"
Her face grew serious, her tone deepened. "We've been through hell and back."
That made a lot more sense and was more comforting than if she'd said they were made for each other. And as I thought about it, from Thanksgiving through New Years Day there'd always been more than one profound, gratuitous moment like that, something that stuck. It's the time of year when losses are felt deepest, but so are the finds.
Yesterday, I drove my husband, Greg, to the train station and then drove to the supermarket. While I shopped, I discovered my eyeglasses were missing. This is never good.
"Say a prayer to St. Anthony," Dad always said. I thought it was odd when I was a kid, yet it worked. Once he said his prayer and found my missing cross wrapped around the top of the garbage bag inside the garbage pail that was outside.
My missing eyeglasses was a little more complicated. After I rifled through my bag, my pockets and the car, I concluded they were on the ground at the train station. And where I had gotten out of the car was the populated drop-off area. They were no doubt crushed into small particles in the parking lot sometime during rush hour. Angry at myself for my carelessness, a big baby rant was coming on. I did NOT want to buy another pair of prescription eyeglasses, but now that I had also needed them for distance, I couldn't blow it off either.
I drove back to the train station to the drop off area. A security vehicle was parked in the exact spot where Greg got out. I pulled over, stepped out of my vehicle and spotted my eyeglasses sticking up. I ran and picked them up. There was no broken glass, not even a scratch. Wow.
Thanks, Dad. Thanks, St. Anthony.
As I count my blessings, I'd like to say thank you for stopping in and reading, for the emails you send, or the comments you make on Moonitude!
Peace, love and joy to you and yours throughout this holiday season and always!