Monday, July 25, 2011


Caitlin Kelly’s memoir, Malled tells the story of her adventures in retail sales after an esteemed writing career. It appeared, and probably felt like a real step down for her, at first. It was very different from her writing job. She was used to a more professional environment. She was used to getting much more respect from her superiors as well as customers. This had to be especially frustrating as she was older than many of her co-workers, not to mention bosses.

Many such bosses felt the need to make certain that it was known who was in control. One day she worked 6 hours without a break [fortunately, labor laws have changed]. She was caught by her younger superior grabbing a bite of apple.

Angie was walking past the lockers when she saw me.

“Are you on your break?” she asked sarcastically. We both knew I wasn’t.

I couldn’t believe she cared that much. No customer could see me. I was taking perhaps thirty seconds away from my official duties. Why did this even matter?

I said nothing but felt humiliated and small as she walked away, her point made. She never mentioned it again. She didn’t have to. She’d flexed her managerial muscle.


Who hasn’t experienced this? Someone [rightly or wrongly] asserting their authority over us can make us feel about 2 inches tall. My book, Reptiles on Caffeine, is chock-full of stories like this.

Some might say this is a legitimate managerial technique. She obviously wasn’t on her break. But Kelly was one of the better employees of the store. That might have been taken into consideration, as well as her long hours that day.

As Michael W. Dean, author of A User’s Manual for the Human Existence, says, “For many it’s easier to be clever and cut someone down instead of being positive.” I have found this to be true in all of my retail service gigs. Heck, I know it to be true in myself. It’s frustrating dealing with people who just don’t seem to get it, and sarcasm seems like a good release as well as an effective way to deal with the situation.

But it’s toxic and will do more damage than good.

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c. 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pursue your passion, and the rest will fall into place…

"Be careful what you set your heart upon, for it surely shall be yours." Napoleon Hill

My friend, Mary was thinking of starting a business. She’s wanted to start an art supply store/gallery for local artists for as long as I can remember. She’s an artist, but not much of a business person [as is common].

Just a cursory glance at all the stress that is involved in running a business from my own research was enough to deter me from anything like that. For me, the coolness would pale in comparison to all of the work and responsibility. But Mary has dreamed about this for years. She finally decided to make a go of it.

She jumped right in. It was hard! But Mary had such a vision and drive for this, though, that she almost thrived on the difficulties. She outsourced the things that she wasn’t good at; accounting, marketing, and everything that goes into business planning/execution. Even the phone system, for goodness’ sake!

She knew she needed a multi-functioning phone system, one with stationary and mobile capabilities. She knew she needed a receptionist, but couldn’t afford to pay for one. She need a fax machine, web hosting, PBX, voicemail; enough to make anyone’s head spin.

When she found out that she could combine all of her phone needs with one awesome company, even a receptionist, for goodness’ sake! Ring Central made her tasks a lot easier.

I have found that when you have a vision and a passion for something, small stressors don’t seem to matter as much. They might still be frustrating, but
you roll with things easier because you know they are a part of your ultimate plan.

By setting goals and living in the moment, we can experience this. Of course we won't be passionate about all of our goals, but it will reveal and pave the way to our true passion.


Friday, July 1, 2011

The Anti-George?

The Seinfeld episode, George Does the Opposite is one of my favorites. Essentially, George thinks to himself, what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working, so from now on I’ll do the opposite. “I’ll become the Anti-George!”

A beautiful woman walks in the diner. He normally would think to himself, wow, she’s so out of my league. I could never talk to her. So he doesn’t, reinforcing his belief that she won’t talk to him.

But the anti-George walks confidently up to her, tells her with pride how he doesn’t have a job and lives with his parents. When he asks her out, she finds his openness so refreshing that she accepts.

Of course it’s meant to be funny, but I believe he might be on to something there. How often do I expect some change or innovation in my life, but keep embracing my old habits?

I am in the process of becoming the anti-Brooke, with regard to my lazy tendencies.
I often stress that there is not enough time in the day to write all I want to write. But then I muse to myself, how much time do I spend on Facebook, or on Sporcle? [my new nerdy hobby]. I’m making an effort to do the opposite of what I am naturally inclined to do, and work towards my goals.

I’ve really started to disdain the clutter in my apartment. If I continue to tippy-toe around the piles, nothing will change. I vow to make a proactive effort to purge and clean. If anything, just to have a more serene environment.

My new habits will be reinforced by success. If they’re not, perhaps it’s time to rethink them.

c. 2011
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