- We don’t open until later.
- We don’t open on Public Holidays.
- We don’t accept Masterdinersamericanexpressvisa card. And the till doesn’t have change. Exact money or go away.
- No dogs allowed.
- No children allowed.
- No coaches.
- No split bills.
- No thongs or singlets.
- No seat without a reservation.
- No reservations.
- No seats.
- No parking on the verge.
- No parking in staff bays.
- No parking.
” I don’t know what it is about the people in this town, Maurice. We open a world-class art gallery and poetry slam café at the edge of an outer suburb on a main trucking road and they just refuse to come. I mean, we have artefacts and avocados, for Christ’s sake. What more do they want? Philistines, the lot of ’em…”
If you find a shopkeeper who will refuse to sell you something on the basis that it is not right for you, you have a gem.
These people may be hard to find – but if you enter into conversation with them over a regular basis -and if it is a genuine and respectful exchange…you can find a whole new world of intelligent help out there.
I talk regularly to the family who run our local post office agency – and to the lady and the chap who run the Asian food store in the shopping centre. I talk to the man who runs the bottle shop, and to the lady who is teller at my local bank. The result is I get told how to cook well with the Asian ingredients, when to change my deposits for good interest rates, and how to send postal items safely at low cost.
Occasionally the bottle shop man warns me off a dud or mentions a good deal. I am always repaid for listening.
Moral: Your local retailers are human beings who appreciate being treated as such and who will make your life better if you recognise the fact.
If you would like to read about ” boosters “, I can suggest no finer book than ” Babbit ” by Sinclair Lewis. It may seem a little dated to some, but then anti-American propaganda never really gets old if you find the right readership. You may be just the fellow traveller who would appreciate it. Paperback versions are readily available, and Dear Old Sinc does get some good lines in there.
I am reminded of it when I get responses via email to these columns. A fair few of them seem to suggest that I can make a fortune by following their formulae for search engine success and/or marketing. I suspect that few of them really have read what I wrote – that this column is not selling anything – nor buying it either.
It almost seems as though they have turned the old saying back to front and are urging me to stick my business in everyone else’s nose…
Fine, if I was trying to market a feel-good book on how to feel good or a successful program on how to be successful…but I am actually operating a personal pillbox from which I can mow down my enemies. When I run out of enemies I mow down friends. Hey, the machine gun bullets are not fussy…
If you have had the misfortune to be attacked and destroyed by this weblog column consider yourself lucky – when you lie down and bleed you will not attract further fire. It is only the heroic that get another fusillade.
Far worse off is the person who I praise. When you put people on a pedestal they are visible to more batteries and will attract heavier ordnance. The spotlight of fame is a merciless one.
And not just any traffic – congested rush-hour jam traffic with drivers honking and swearing and the occasional sound of bumpers crumpling. Nothin’ says lovin’ like a road-rage fist fight on the footpath. Sound good? Lookin’ forward to it?
Or how about a steady even stream of cars – occasionally stopping to wave to you as you water the new front lawn. No noise. No smells. No crashes. A little less exciting, but ultimately easier on the nerves.
Well, these two choices are what you get when you start to do a weblog column and the thing is picked up by blogging promoters – the people who want to sell you either themselves or some formula that allows search engines to find you when you go to the bathroom. Kind of like electronic cocker spaniels – presumably they sit at the door, whining and scratching.
My email inbox is full of these at present – people who ” like” some particular post but only as an opportunity to wedge their feet in the door and sell encyclopaedias. I pay the courtesy to each of these email contact of looking at their weblogs – at least once – but I select only a few to follow upon a further basis. These are written by people who are amusing, sensible, or who share my hobbies.
Getting more readers is exhilarating but at my age I can get sparkling lights in front of my eyes standing up quickly. I value praise from people I value…but not from glad-handers and boosters.
I can get that from the Indian call centres…
No, I’m not talking about today and the All Bran. Your digestive tract is none of my concern. I’m talking about your career and your past successes. Things that you may legitimately cherish.
But a hint: Cherish them to yourself, in private. You’ll do far better in the social scene if you keep up to date with what is going on and don’t hearken to or harp upon the past. Others may know of your history and celebrate it, but as soon as you join in the praise of you there is a danger that they will fall silent. And eventually so will you, in shame.
It will go even worse for you if you come and cry your decline. It may be real, and if so people will perceive it. You need not tell it like a tragic opera.
I was reminded of this at a trade fair where I met several former practitioners of professional photography who have settled into a pattern of retailing their past business history and bewailing their current retirement and/or failures. I feel for them, but if they continue to tell of the woes of getting old I am tempted to feel for a sharp knife to cure that problem.
It was exactly the same for me after my retirement from dentistry – now when I meet an old colleague I try to celebrate our hard-won escape from the profession and I do not go on as if I pine for it. In truth, I do not, and am pleasantly surprised to find that most of my old classmates are of a similar mind.
I find I can bore people wonderfully with new topics and do not need to use the old ammunition. Most of it was duds anyway.
I ask myself this a couple of hours before attending a fashion parade – this one organised as part of the publicity and foo faw associated with a commercial trade expo. The basic event is promulgated by the local camera shop I used to work for, and I am going along to get material for the weblog column I write for them.
I think it will be a theatrical event designed to give the wannabees the thrill of seeing themselves as pro photographers. In the real thing there are pro photographers looking to give themselves the trill of getting paid. I have no idea from whence the thrill is meant to come for the models who stride the catwalk.
I have been mean to these model ladies and gentlemen before by referring to them as the slim, grim, and dim…but maybe I should be prepared to turn round and look at the audience as well. Why are they there? I can’t believe that they have any intention of buying the clothes on parade – either for themselves or for other people. They are forbidden by law from buying the girls and boys who walk the catwalk…though they may be rented occasionally. The only people there who have some hope of getting a benefit are the photographers and the owner of the venue.
Well, wish me luck. I’ll be the chap in the back with the reporter camera and the notebook hoping that there will be a fight or animal attack. And snacks. At least I know what I want…
Addendum: It was great. There was beer and snacks and rescue greyhounds in pyjamas. Also a crowd of camera people snapping away like mad. When I left early to write for my deadline they were still going great guns. But the business of snapping fashion sounds like a hard grind for a meal ticket.
And they do not come…
Some people think this indicates failure – I’m of the opinion that it’s genius. Because in the end they might miss out but you still have a major piece of real estate in a good part of town.
Lots of times you do something that is intended to wow the crowd and get them to flock in and make you rich. And lots of times there is no wowing, flocking, or riches as a result. If you are in prison for debt at the end of the game it is not such a good time, but anything else is fine. If people do not appreciate your vision, at least you do. And in the end self-approval weighs more than external praise. Consider: self loathing is the saddest of conditions and one that it takes years of psychotherapy to treat. If you don’t ever go there, you are far better off.
Also, the flocking. A visit from a friend is delightful. A visit from a group of friends is less so, but can be fine if the coffee and cake hold out. And if they go away eventually. A visit from a flock of strangers wanting entertainment, food, and toilet facilities is a nightmare…particularly if you consider that any group of ten people or more is just one peeve away from a riot. That old saying that you can’t please everyone kicks in savagely after the crowd get past the ten mark.
Best practice is to aim to do something that pleases yourself. Do it openly and let others observe, if they wish. Be nice – answer polite questions. Tidy up after yourself when you are through. With a bit of luck your happiness will attract others who wish to share the emotion.
Be wary, though. Happiness also attracts those who might wish it ended.