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A Retail Standoff

She knew the gift wrap ladies were swamped. It’s Christmas. Your wrapped presents are going to take time to get back in your hands. And during December you deal with the delay like the rest of us by drinking, popping a Xanax or eating chocolate chip cookies. 

Wiping the cookie crumbs from my mouth, I stood there in line, patiently.  Really, I wasn’t in much of a hurry and was sort of watching the wrapper ladies scurry back and forth.  They were scurrying.  Trust me. “This gentleman needs two shirt boxes!”  “On the way!”  “This lady would like some extra tissue.”  “It would be my pleasure.  Happy Holidays!”  The air was full of yes and not no.

Until it wasn’t.  You should have seen her.  She was dressed so cool that I didn’t want to like her.  Her two perfect boys with their perfect hair were behaving, so, well, perfectly.  This woman seemed to have it all together. 

Until she didn’t.  She made the mistake of doing that one thing you don’t do to scurrying gift wrappers that work in shades of black and white.  She asked for the gray and it devastated them.  See, she was in a hurry to get to an event that night and was taking this rather large Cuisinart as a gift.  I told you she was cool. 

Must get a Cuisinart to cuise things.

She sets the box on top of the counter and waits.  And waits.  And finally someone stops handing out gift boxes to help her.  She asks very sweetly, “Would you have time to wrap this?” 

“I’m sorry.  Not til tomorrow.”  Tomorrow doesn’t work very well when you have a party to go to and a gift to take and two little boys that do perfect very well but couldn’t possibly keep up the jig much longer.

“Well, then could I pay for the cost of wrapping style number um, maybe…five and perhaps you could give me the paper and the ribbon and I’ll do it myself?”  You know how you raise your voice at the end of the question just a bit too much to keep things light and airy.  Yes, like that.

“I’m sorry.  We can’t.”  Very black and white.  Very not gray if not gray were a Pantone color. The customer looked to the rest of us in line dumbfounded.  Someone else would have stamped their Orange County heels and yelled, “Get your manager now or I’m calling Bravo to come film this!”  The sweet customer was not moving her Cuisinart and the head wrapper lady had a death grip on her grosgrain ribbon.  It was a retail standoff.

Are you missing opportunities to say yes?  Are you stuck in the black and white space of no because that’s all you know?  I challenge you to look, to just peek, maybe even duck your head to the right a bit and see what’s outside the box.  It might not be a Cuisinart to cuise things but it could be the gift of service wrapped in gorgeous shades of gray. 

Here’s hoping your December is full of yes and not no.  And if you happen to see that lady invite her to my next dinner party, won’t you?  Maybe she gives out espresso machines, too.

Follow Cole on Twitter. Or at PreMiddleAge.

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