Here I sit a few days after Thanksgiving being thankful.
I’m thankful because I am not letting the stress of Black Friday get to me, I am simply re-framing them as fortunate events.
So getting your credit card shut down many times for fraud alerts can be a negative. Imagine the long line behind you and your carts overflowing with Legos, Shopkins and other great finds. The excitement is still there. You’re going through the process in your mind. Everything out by Monday, bag this, special boxes for that. You are getting more excited anticipating all them selling in days and then it happens. You see this isn’t the first time so you always keep a wary eye to the register. You have been here before many times.
What I love about this business is the long distance communications that impact your business and your life if you let them. See when I help others, they magically seem to help me at just the right time. By sowing seeds into others, I have reaped the harvest of their blossom. Yes blossom. I have seen so many people grow into a track. Into a great state of flow. Like they have been preparing for this moment for a long time, veering off every now and then but coming back to center. It is so rewarding to watch. To have even a small part makes me one of the luckiest people in the world. Building others up and helping them recognize their inner talent will take you to places in your heart where I believe you were meant to be. I know that sounds weird, after all I’m just a guy who likes to talk. And I talk a lot!
Staring down at the register, trying to make sure my math was correct. Checking to be sure the discounts I expected came through as expected is a big deal. These are the things that make the difference of marginal profitability versus an incredible fourth quarter. Many things are trying to distract you, especially if you are at a huge Walmart. Even more if you are at a sketchy area Walmart. There seems to be a lot of action every time I’m in one. Always screaming, never enough registers open so people are getting impatient. Someone always doesn’t have enough money to pay their bill. Ok here is a secret. If they have only food and it’s not crazy, I will pay the shortage. Not bragging but it is the least I can do. However if there is home stuff, lamps, mirrors (Walmart sells a lot of mirrors) and other stuff I don’t. If there is a lot of processed stuff, boxes of cardboard pizzas, bags of plastic meatballs, wooden snack bars I will not step up. Does that make me a bad person? Am I trying to be the food police and tell them how to live their life? In my mind no, but I might be biased.
Anyway it happens. You sweat every card swipe. The curse of the immediate. When you time everything to the second, when you organize the variety by barcode, to speed up the transaction. You put the time in before the belt. You are ready and wham. You see it, the cashier sees it, the person(s) behind you see it. If they didn’t the person two people back tells everyone in their outdoor voice. Your credit card was denied. Silence. Sweat starts to form. The crowd murmurs. Whispering but you can hear them. He needs to step aside, I got to be somewhere. He is just a greedy hoarder type who needs to let others get stuff too. Who does he think he is.
That stuff hurts. It hurts even more when you flip your card over. The sighs get deeper as they know what you are going to do. You reach for your phone and dial the numbers one by one. A few times I have dialed the wrong number. The pressure is pretty high in these scenarios. If you haven’t experienced it, you will. Just wait. Someday you will get to achieve this moment. The blow by blow pain of it all. And it is painful. Spirits that where at an all time high, deflate like a blow up Santa when you pull the plug. It really is like a buzz kill. You know that guy who walks into a room and seems to suck the life out of it. It’s happening to you right now.
When you know others are staring you down with out looking, the hold music doesn’t help. It’s usually the Bee Gees or an 1980’s classic that you want to start singing. But you know the crowd will get angrier. You can sway a little if you pretend it’s a frustrating hip move rather than the natural wiggle that comes from a Gloria Estafan classic. You know the rhythm will get you when you do that conga beat. You know how to shake it to the beat. Beat. Anyway you get my point, it’s tough under pressure to hold it together while you say the last four of the card for the third time. You want to prove to the line. That’s their official name now “The Line”. That’s how you will refer to them when you talk to a real person if they ever come on. That wait seems like forever, the seconds tick by real slow. The sighs grow deeper. People start to shuffle to other lines and say again in their saltiest outdoor voice, there’s that guy whose credit card failed. Why can’t people pay their bills. What do you expect, he looks kind of scruffy, probably lives in his van. Always happens to me, that guy seems to be everywhere these days. Why can’t people just get a job!
While I might be coming across as a bit dramatic, we have all had these thoughts about others. Why do we seem to revel in the misery of others? Why do we rubberneck when a fight breaks out, why do we look down on our fellow man when their world seems in an upheaval? Is it to feel better about ourselves? Feel better about the things you (I) have done wrong in my life so they look trivial. The things I have said or unsaid that you know weren’t right! That dirty look, that scowl that forms when you fly off the handle? That finger that comes up out of nowhere seemingly on its own when you get cut off in traffic? Why do we not see the good in others every time?
Why don’t we think of the kids that dad has to go home and disappoint because he spent his money on cigarettes instead if milk because he is addicted?
Why can I pass by the people holding cardboard signs at the intersection without wondering what greatness they could have achieved. Given a second, third, fourth chance to do it over again?
Why can’t I realize the language spewing out of the screaming woman is just a product of her environment where she had no choice but to be? Maybe she was abused, neglected or just plain abandoned by everyone? Maybe I should not be judging and just care?
Maybe I need to do for the least so they too can get some of the best?
But at this moment, I am thinking of my troubles, yes my credit card was flagged for possible fraud for the third time tonight. I have to make a call and it gets fixed. You see I have the money, I can just use a debit card. I have the money and I am only thinking if myself at this moment. Is that where my head should be?
Did I earn the right to be so negative, all about me?
It’s time to remember how blessed we are. It’s time to put it in perspective, it’s so much better than it could be.
You see the guy in the wheelchair would trade his troubles for mine in that second. The lady whose kids are screaming they are hungry because they are actually hungry would love to have this be their biggest issue right now. The cashier earning $9.00 an hour to out up with big shots like me, would love to be able to afford just one Hatchimal for their child at home. You see if you were back in the line behind me you would see a man whose worst case scenario is walking out of the store empty handed. Big deal.
Change your perspective, re-frame your situation. Look at that as a moment to be thankful. If I left the store with nothing, I had a car to get into. I had a coat to protect me from the cold winter starting to show itself. I have a car three quarters full and have so much more than so many.
For me I can breathe, I can walk, I can see, I can talk, I can drive to a warm home with loved ones waiting for me. I can re-frame that challenge that I just had as a letdown. Not a game-ender and for that I am thankful.
I am thankful for so much and even if I fail I am thankful I hit the chance to try.
Re-framing what is going on this time of year can make some of the pain lesson. It might not go away but it can give you solace even for a moment.
Best wishes to you and peace in your life!